Dubai: Emirates Post Group (EPG) is set to install automated and unmanned ‘e-lockers’ at kiosks located in newly developed parts of the UAE where post offices are not available in a bid to boost e-commerce.

Ebrahim Bin Karam, Chief Commercial Officer at Emirates Post, said that EPG is introducing the new measures in response to strong demand for ‘last mile delivery’ from e-commerce companies.

EPG has purchased five outdoor kiosks from an Austrian company for between Dh60,000 and Dh70,000 each as a pilot project and has another 20 kiosks on order. Right now, each kiosk has 38 lockers of different sizes. In the future, kiosks will offer lockers of 70 different sizes.

The kiosks will be rolled out in crowded neighbourhoods and close to shopping malls, such as in JBR and Arabian Ranches, to name a few.

In the next one-and-a-half years, Bin Karam said that more than 100 e-lockers are going to be installed across the country, starting at Mena Seyahi (tourist office) in Abu Dhabi and at Spinneys in Umm Suqeim.

“We have partnered with DHL, UPS, African e-commerce logistics company Mara Express and e-commerce portal Namshi, whereby these companies will use our lockers to deliver shipments. Anyone can use the e-lockers as long as they sign a deal with Emirates Post,” Jeremy M. Skyrme, Executive Director of Sales at Emirates Post Group, told Gulf News.

He said that 20 lockers will be installed this year, starting in Abu Dhabi and subsequently opening in Dubai and other emirates. Operations will begin in two weeks.

Customers who choose to use the service can have consignments delivered to their doorstep or pick it up from one of EPG’s 120 retail outlets.

“The group has the infrastructure to support e-commerce as we are the regulator for the courier industry in the country. Over 60 per cent of the UAE population is online compared to 45 per cent in China but volumes from China in general, have registered a five-fold increase over the past 18 months,” Skyrme said.

Emirates Post receives 11,000 shipments per day into the UAE, including letters and e-commerce packages.

Skyrme said that EPG will earn Dh5 on every shipment through the kiosk.

Bin Karam said that EPG is fully equipped to meet the “emerging demands” of an expanding e-commerce segment.

As there has been a huge increase in volumes of inbound parcels, he said, “we are focusing on ‘innovative last mile delivery’ solutions for e-commerce players.”

Moreover, he said that e-commerce exports from the UAE to GCC countries are increasing rapidly, with e-commerce companies sending huge volumes to Saudi Arabia on a daily basis.

The e-commerce delivery market in the UAE is valued at around half a billion dirhams and is expected to reach Dh2.5 billion in the next three years.

EPG is also shortlisting retailers and e-commerce companies, as part of an e-commerce project that will offer select range of electronic products, flowers and other items through the website, and customers will be able to order them online and have them delivered through the postal network.

“As part of its innovative services, we will be signing an agreement with retailers and begin selling their products through the portal and delivering them to customers,” Bin Karam said.

  1. Once Emirates Post receives the parcel from the airports, the receiver is informed.
  2. Customers can either choose door-to-door delivery either at home or office, to pick it up from the closest branch or pick it up themselves through the new kiosks.
  3. If they choose the kiosk delivery option, customers will receive an SMS once the locker is loaded and will also receive a security code to unlock the locker to pick up their shipments.
  4. The lockers are loaded at midnight and would be ready to collect from 7:30am.
  5. Once at the kiosk, the customer will enter the code and scan their Emirates ID to open the locker. Another message will be sent to them once the process is done.
  6. If the parcel is not collected from the machine within three days, it is returned to Emirates Post’s main hub.
  7. The kiosk is monitored round-the clock by CCTV.

EPG has also launched the UAE Stamp Shop, an online stamp purchasing service for the benefit of stamp collectors. The service is now available and offers 40 stamps issued between 2012-2016. There’s a huge demand from stamp collectors locally, regionally and internationally.

The stamps are delived by registered post to any part of the world. The EPG Philately Department will keep adding more stamps to the list on a regular basis.

Customers can also personalise their own stamps, he said, based on the occasion, such as Mother’s Day, New Years Day, or Eid Al Adha for example. They can embed their photos on selected stamps online through the portal, pay online and send it to anyone.