The gopost parcel lockers appear all but ready for live customer tests. Viewing one in person clearly showed to me how a customer thinking of using a gopost would interact and how it would work for both able and disabled individualsm, as well as adults of a full range of heights.
What a Customer First Sees
A customer interested in using gopost will have no trouble finding it. The bright red and blue colors make it stand out, just like Redbox and Blockbuster kiosks do. The use of color focuses the consumers attention right where they have to go, the center console. Given that it is both bright red and stands out a few inches from the lockers themselves, it is impossible to miss.
The Center Console
The center console appears to have four components. In the top-center there is a security camera similar to what exists at ATM’s. Clearly, this is how the Postal Service will ensure that the user of gopost is the authorized user and if not, they will have an image of the perpetrator.
Below the camera is a LCD screen that, more than likely, is a touch screen similar to what is commonly used on ATM’s today. A touch screen would be needed if a person was to type in a shipment tracking number rather than scanning a barcode as noted below.
gopost has a receipt slot for printing receipts. Clearly a receipt provides customers added confidence when they tender a parcel to gopost . It is unclear if receipts would be printed when a parcel is received. Demonstrations of similar parcel lockers in Europe suggest that no receipt will be printed when receiving a parcel.
Finally, in the lower-left side of the console there is a laser scanner, similar to what is found in self-checkout lines at a supermarket. This scanner clearly would be capable of scanning a printed barcode. It is unclear if the scanning is needed for shipping or receiving parcels, as receiving parcels may only involve typing a tracking number. It is unclear if the scanner could also scan a barcode image on a smart phone.
What cannot be seen from the console is whether there are any mobile telecommunications capabilities that would allow a person to send a signal from their mobile to open a locker. My sense is that this capability does not exist, as it does not exist in similar lockers elsewhere.
The gopost center console differs from DHL’s packstation, as it does not have a credit card slot for either identification or the purchase of shipping services. gopost differs from Amazon’s installation, as it has the laser scanner and Amazon’s design does not.
What the Screen Currently Shows.
As gopost is not yet live, the screen shows a placeholder. The placeholder uses the same gopost logo with the “pick up – ship out – get going” trademarked tag line. While the website introduced the the theme of the likely advertising campaign, ”Say hello to gopost, say goodbye to missed packages,” the gopost touchscreen adds a second advertising slogan, “The new place for 24/7 shipping and receiving.”
Size and Capabilities and Location Considerations
The original drawings posted on this site made gopost seem incredibly huge. However, up close gopost clearly has human dimensions. The large lockers at the top are 4 feet, two inches above ground, a height that most people taller than 5’2″ should have no trouble reaching. For people that are shorter, gopost has two large lockers that are 23 inches above the ground.
The standard installations have a total of 80 lockers, in three sizes.
- 34 small – approximately 18″ deep by 12″ wide by 3 1/2″ tall
- 32 medium- approximately 18″ deep by 12″ wide by 8 1/2″ tall
- 14 large – approximately 18″ deep by 12″ wide by 19″ tall
The gopost parcel lockers differ from designed used by DHL and Amazon, as only the Postal Service design has handles. Both gopost and DHL’s packstation use unnumbered lockers and Amazon uses lockers with numbers. By not having numbered lockers, it is clear that once the existence of a package is identified, a locker will pop open. The use of unnumbered lockers has now been tested in a couple thousand sites world wide, so not having numbered lockers should not pose a problem.
With these three sizes, it would seem that the Postal Service would be able to handle a wide range of small parcels. If the security is tight enough, one can imagine the Postal Service handling some small electronics that shippers have preferred using other carriers up till now. Shippers that currently ship with the Postal Service, or use FedEx SmartPost, Equiship, UPS Surepost, or DHL Global Mail should all note the size of these lockers when they decide what size boxes they use.
The current configuration is a little under 21 feet wide and 4 feet deep including the awning on top. For indoor installation, where an awning may not be needed or wanted, the depth is just under 2 feet. Both the left and right sets of parcel lockers are 115″ and the center console is 20″ feet deep. The front of gopost is 7’2″and the front of the canopy is 7’6″, so all but a few NBA centers will have no problem fitting under the canopy and using gopost.
The design is modular, which would allow the Postal Service to design smaller and larger goposts as demand adjusts. Besides the red center console, there are right and left center locker modules, and right and left outer modules. This suggests that gopost can be expanded if needed and smaller ones can be designed for use in smaller communities and rural areas.
As the installation at the South Arlington Post Office shows, the standard configuration would fit easily either outside a drug store, grocery store or one of the large convenience store/gas stations. It is also easy to imagine putting them inside shopping malls as there is usually a lot of wall space where one could be placed, without impacting shop windows.
Looking at the gopost up close, there appear to be three considerations in deciding where it could be located.
- The location must have sufficient space behind the gopost unit to allow for ventilation. Walking around the back of gopost , it is impossible not to notice the fan noise, as effort is made to dissipate heat generated by the electronics in the center console.
- The location must have access to electricity. This should not be a problem.
- The location must have internet access, either through a mobile-based or wired connection to the Internet. It was unclear from looking at the sites which type of connection was used in these installations. For locations near Post Offices both hard wire and wireless connections are options. For stand-alone location, the Postal Service may need an internet connection through a telecommunications carrier.
The Postal Service appears to have done a good job in designing their version of the parcel locker. gopost is visibly attractive. It is large, but the choice of contrasting colors has the effect of making it look less massive than it probably is. The design should help advance acceptance of the concept.
The design appears well suited for installation in many types of locations. Obviously, security and maintenance issues may affect where gopost is located. Clearly, in higher security risk locations, indoor placement would be preferred.
The major maintenance concern relates to gopost’s need for ventilation. When placed close to a wall, the 20″ gap between the back of gopost and a wall can act like a trap for leaves and debris. The Postal Service may need to have wings designed to block the area behind goPost when it is installed close to a wall. The other ventilation-related concern relates to ensuring that air vents have some form of a screen on the inside to prevent unwanted material being blown or dropped inside.
Overall, the project team that got this rolling should get some pats on the back from upper management for the visual design. The next step is seeing how well it works in live tests. Let’s hope it succeeds as gopost could become a key component in ensuring the Postal Service’s survival..