Automated Post Office Marks The Rise Of Robotic Retail


Swapbox kiosks around San Francisco allow users to send and receive packages during convenient hours of the day

Simone Spilka
  • 4 august 2014

The introduction of FedEx solved the lag time for postage with same-day shipping across the States. However, the 9-5 time frame associated with shipping packages or receiving deliveries caused major inconvenience for customers using the service. Now, thanks to Swapbox, a startup by Y Combinator alumni Neel Murthy, large lockers installed across the Bay Area have positive implications for consumers who are unavailable during post office hours.

Swapbox is an automated post office where customers can send and receive packages safety and conveniently from kiosks. Users drop off their item to the local Swapbox machine, chose a shipping speed, and enter in a delivery address. The company can also professionally package items and deliver them with a trusted carrier. The specific tracking system ensures shipments arrive safely to its destination. The product, in competition with Amazon’s Locker program and Google’s Bufferbox, eliminates shipping lines and disgruntled packaging.

On the receiving end, online shoppers across all e-commerce platforms can use their local Swapbox address at checkout to pick up their package after hours. The user simply receives a notification that their package has arrived, and are prompted to pick them up at their requested location using a unique PIN. Swapbox users have 24 hours to pick up their package before they are prompted with new options; currently, it averages four hours from the user’s initial notification to their in-person pickup. The service eliminates missing deliveries for customers who cannot compete against work hours to be home for day time drop-offs.

Sensibly, Swapbox functions as a PO Box that exists across multiple, convenient locations. The startup, designed in San Francisco, has installed the lockers in scattered locations around the city including markets, laundromats, gas stations, 7-11s, and cafes.

Swapbox is surprisingly affordable, ranging from just $1.99 per delivery to $14.99 per month for unlimited deliveries. Each shipping option offers a test round for free and the value of anytime pick up.

Swapbox’s existence as an automated system marks the beginning trends of robotic retail.


[h/t] TechCrunch


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