Working in cooperation with PostNord – the combined postal services of Denmark and Sweden – Zalando is testing the use of private residences as pick-up and drop-off locations for its parcels. The program allows people who, for whatever reason – self-employment, retirement, etc. – are often at home during the day to supplement their income, while allowing the German online retailer and PostNord to limit the length of their last-mile deliveries.

The test is making use of 50 residences in the Danish cities of Aarhus and Copenhagen. In December 2018, Zalando tested a different system, called Smart Door Technology, with Belgium's mail carrier, bpost. In that case, the delivery person would ring an installed “smart doorbell” at the house of the parcel's recipient. This would trigger a smartphone, which the recipient could use to open the door to his or her house remotely, thanks to a “smart doorlock.” A majority of the residents who took part trusted the system enough to want to pursue its use. Zalando is based in Berlin.

Zalando and other e-tailers are already using drop-off points at all kinds of locations, including laundries, for their packages. As previously reported, Amazon has been experimenting with drones to help ensure same-day deliveries. In any case, with the ongoing growth of e-commerce, deliveries of online purchases have become a growing concern. Alibaba, Amazon, and JD.com, which have been investing heavily in new delivery systems, account for around 40 percent of online purchases globally.

According to a McKinsey study highlighting the rate of parcel penetration in 17 markets, the Chinese rank first for online shopping worldwide with each customer receiving more than 70 packages in the year 2017, followed by Germans with 24 packages per person.

The U.K. ranked third in 2017 with 22 packages per year and the U.S. fourth with 21, followed by Austria with 14, the Netherlands with 12, Switzerland and Belgium with 9, and Singapore and Sweden with 6. The report predicts that parcels delivered in this manner will reach parity by volume with ordinary mail by 2025. Their compound annual growth rate has increased from 2 percent in the years between 2000 and 2005 to 11 percent between 2015 and 2020.

The report illustrates the opportunities, risks and the competition in the online market, coming to the conclusion that parcel logistics – from pick-up to delivery – is steadily becoming the most crucial driver of growth. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of all e-commerce purchases are delivered via networks rather than picked up in a store.