Solving logistics issues in major cities is an expensive and complicated headache for India’s e-commerce companies. Next month, online shoppers in Delhi might get deliverance in the form of kiosks in major subway stations that will let them pick up packages at their own convenience.
According to NDTV, ten Delhi Metro stations will be fitted with the terminals, which will also allow customers to make debit or credit card payments. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation hasn’t disclosed what companies will participate in the program, but India’s largest e-commerce platforms—Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon—have already spent millions of dollars to build their networks and invest in logistics startups.
Last-mile logistics—or shipments between locals distribution centers and consumers—are key, since traffic is bad in many Indian cities, addresses are difficult to find, and deliveries have to be made on time to avoid costly return trips. Making it simple for consumers to pick up orders reduces the amount of trips delivery personnel have to make every day and ensures that shoppers don’t have to wait around at home for their package. One startup taking a similar approach is Qikpod, which has raised $9 million to solve those problems with smart lockers in heavily trafficked areas in India’s 10 biggest cities. Its concept is similar to the Delhi Metro station terminals, but the latter will be staffed, according to NDTV, which may make it harder to scale up.