Southeast Asian VC firm East Ventures has made an undisclosed seed investment in Jakarta-based PopBox, an Indonesian startup that produces automated parcel lockers for ‘last mile‘ e-commerce deliveries and is founded by Adrian Lim and Greta Bunawan.
The capital from the seed round is expected to finance expansion of its locker network in Indonesia and the addition of more more product features. ‘Last mile’ delivery is a term used in logistics to describe the delivery of items to consumers, via transport from a hub to a final destination.
With the growth in e-commerce activities in ASEAN markets, the last leg of delivery, where it ends up at the consumer’s home or business, has become challenging, since most consumers are away from home when deliveries are made.
The rise of unattended deliveries has become a significant issue among delivery companies like UPS, FedEx and DHL, with solutions like drone delivery being evaluated in China by Alibaba Group.
PopBox’s solution is a clone of Amazon Locker, with a physical locker for packages to land in after last mile delivery. The locker provides a self-service delivery location to pick up and return packages.
“We took the ‘home’ out of ‘home delivery’ in order to make it even more convenient for customers and merchants alike. By placing artistically-designed PopBox lockers at popular locations throughout Jakarta, customers get to pick up their delivery faster and at lower cost compared to having it delivered to their home, when they may not be around to receive it”, Lim said in a statement to Singapore-based startup community platform Tech in Asia.
Given the specific challenges faced by customers in ranging for deliveries, with courier services mostly making delivery rounds in batches, customers often need to wait for a parcel to arrive and sign for it.
A lack of receipt will result in the courier returning the package to the post office, where retrieval can prove frustrating to customers.
Combined with delivery challenges caused by Jakarta traffic and the inefficiencies faced in negotiating security checkpoints and dealing with rejected parcels, PopBox aims to provide a solution rendering the delivery process more efficient for both merchants and customers.
PopBox works by having shoppers select PopBox as a pickup option via a partnered site where shoppers have purchased their wares. On confirmation, a code will be sent to the shopper’s phone, which can then be scanned at a PopBox terminal to access the package. PopBox has stated that it has already established several partnerships with e-commerce retailers but has not publicly named them.
Revenue is generated from charging customers subscription fees and per use fees, which vary with the volume transacted. Income is also generated from revenue sharing with courier companies.
Lim’s outlook on the prospects for PopBox are highly optimistic. He said, “With a bit of luck, and once we reach our full rollout potential, our revenue should be in the range of tens of millions US dollars per annum.”
PopBox lockers are currently located at key points within Jakarta: Baywalk Mall, Grand Slipi Tower, Kalibata City Square and East Ventures Hive. They are open 24/7, according to official statements from PopBox.
On a regional basis, PopBox is expected to directly compete with the PopStation service offered by SingPost, which is engaged in the same service as PopBox but has no presence in Indonesia at present.
Commenting on the investment, Willson Cuaca, managing partner of East Ventures, said, “We believe this is a segment that is currently still underinvested and the timing is right for PopBox to be added to Indonesia’s ecommerce ecosystem.”