DHL Parcel and Volkswagen are the latest delivery company / vehicle manufacturer pairing to stick the boot into parcel delivery.
The companies are launching a joint pilot project in Berlin in which Volkswagen will deploy 50 VW Polos that selected customers can use as mobile addresses for delivery of their DHL parcels.
The cars to be used in the pilot are already fitted with the required equipment for in-car delivery, called "We Deliver". To use the new service, customers register with DHL and enter their boot (that's "trunk" to our American friends) as the delivery location in their customer profile at www.paket.de.
Customers can specify a two-hour time slot between 10 am and 9 pm during which DHL will deliver the parcel. For delivery, the vehicle needs to be parked in a place accessible to the parcel courier.
The DHL parcel courier receives the delivery location information from the DHL Delivery app, which provides vehicle's exact position via GPS. The app also issues a single-use, time-limited code to access the vehicle.
Customers can also leave returns in the car for collection.
In addition to this current pilot project with Volkswagen in Berlin, DHL Parcel continues to offer in-car delivery with Smart in Stuttgart, Cologne, Bonn, as well as Berlin.
Jaguar and toBoot
Earlier this year, UK department store John Lewis teamed up with Jaguar Land Rover to trial delivery to shoppers’ car boots.
The courier receives a GPS location of the car along with the registration number and a one-time code that gives access into the trunk. Customers receive real-time updates to their mobile phone. Once the car is securely locked they receive a photo notification to confirm.
There is a £2 surcharge for delivery via toBoot.
Volvo In-car Delivery is currently available in Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. It's free for all Volvo On Call users - there's no additional delivery surcharge. The delivery company delivers straight to the car.
To use Volvo In-car Delivery, customers must have a Volvo equipped with Volvo On Call, model year 2012 and later, and a valid Volvo On Call subscription.
The service is available with selected retailers. PostNord is a delivery partner. Returns are also available.
Could in-car delivery kickstart a new line in crime? "Porch pirates" are merely opportunistic, unskilled thieves. But stealing parcels from the back of expensive European cars... that would take talent!
Volvo has taken this security threat seriously. When parcels are delivered to the boot, the shipment is concealed using the tonneau cover. Goods that are delivered to the Volvo are also automatically insured.
toBoot provides £10,000 insurance in the event of any damage to the customer's vehicle or belongings in the process of parcel delivery.
For DHL/VW, DHL is liable for any damage the customer's vehicle might sustain during the course of delivery, but it's not immediately obvious if the parcels are insured in the event of theft.
Is in-car delivery for real?
Treating cars as mobile parcel lockers sounds like a good idea, but in-car delivery isn't for everyone. For starters, not everyone owns a car! And some car owners park in secure car parks that can't be accessed by delivery drivers.
Security concerns need to be clearly addressed. Customers are keen on convenience, but don't want to turn their (expensive European) cars into targets for break-and-enter crime.
What is clear is that delivery is becoming increasingly splintered. Technology is enabling more B2C parcel delivery options, which in theory should result in higher rates of first-time delivery success.
The sign that in-car delivery has come of age will be when it is widely adopted by postal operators - not just PostNord!