Parcel lockers

Deploy parcel lockers in combination with a campus or city hub and make sure the employees have a choice


Context and relevance

RU and HAN have piloted the value of introducing on-campus parcel lockers. At RU they were placed in the Elinor Ostrom building at the end of May 2021 and at HAN in August 2021, first at Kapittelweg 33 and more recently at Laan van Scheuten 10. The parcel lockers contain about 30 individual lockers that can be opened electronically with a code (figures 1a and 1b). If employees or students on the Heijendaal campus order parcels, the delivery company can open a locker, leave the parcel, and close the locker again. Parcel recipients then receive a delivery notification (e-mail and/or SMS) containing a code to open the locker.

Figures 1a and 1b: The parcel locker in the RU Elinor Ostromge building, approximately 1.90 meter high. Instructions for use are found on the locker.


The aim of the pilots was to reduce the number of on campus delivery movements while increasing staff and student service levels. The applicability and value of the lockers was investigated by two HAN graduates.


Research question

Two pilot studies were conducted regarding the deployment of parcel lockers on Heijendaal Campus. The first (Mentink, 2021), was run prior to the placement of RU parcel lockers, with the main research question:

“What are recipients’ expectations regarding changes in the delivery process, acceptance, costs, and the added value of providing a parcel locker on campus Heijendaal?”

As an extension, a follow-up pilot study was conducted once the parcel lockers had been placed at RU and HAN (De Valk, 2021). Here, the research question was, “In what way can parcel lockers be used to increase sustainability, liveability, and service levels on campus Heijendaal in relation to the costs?”

Research approach

For both studies, experts were interviewed and the scientific literature was consulted. Surveys were then conducted among those who ordered business-related materials. For the initial RU study, 14 people responded; the numbers for the second study were 13 (RU) and 16(HAN).


The initial pilot surveys showed that prior to the introduction of parcel lockers, respondents were satisfied with the way they received and could track & trace business parcels. Nevertheless, participants expected their satisfaction to increase with deliveries via the parcel locker and the associated Track & Trace system. However, their expectations were not fulfilled, as satisfaction levels remained about the same. Worth noting is that the majority of respondents had stated they were willing to invest time in collecting parcels from the parcel locker. This may be an important issue when determining the ideal location of parcel lockers; respondents suggested placing one parcel locker per faculty or building and on the general daily route to or from their work. they mentioned locations like the entrance, the reception, near lifts, at the bicycle parking facility, or at the entrance hall. Moreover, respondents expected that locating parcel lockers where currently no pick-up point is available would have an even greater positive effect on service levels.

Impact on goals living lab

Sustainability and liveability
Major steps in reducing CO2 emissions and transport movements can only be achieved if all parcels are bundled and delivered via a hub. For this, it is important that those parcels or deliveries that do not fit in the parcel locker are delivered using traditional routes. Therefore, the deployment of parcel lockers should be viewed in conjunction with the use of a campus and/or city hub where deliveries are bundled and pre-sorted according to size.

A quantitative cost analysis was not a focus of either study. As a result, the extent to which investment costs financially outweigh efficiency for employees or delivery services is not known. However, respondents expected that the benefit of investing in parcel lockers would primarily be the user-experience, not necessarily financial.

In relation to the costs, it is advisable to only deploy parcel lockers for campus employees in the first instance. To promote their benefits, ideas for their extended use such as issuing IT resources should be considered. Finally, to increase service, the parcel lockers could also be used for employees’ private deliveries.

Service level
Earlier studies on the use of parcel lockers show that recipients value their use in four different ways: functional, social, emotional, or financial value (Vakulenko, 2018). Elements of the first three aspects – relative to a traditional mode of delivery (without a parcel locker) – also emerged in both Heijendaal campus studies (Mentink 2021; De Valk 2021).

First, with regard to function, participants attach value to the location of the parcel locker, wider time windows for picking up parcels, not having to wait in queues at the Campus store or depend on postal rounds, or to the efficiency of the system in a more general sense. Second, Vakulenko (2018) noted that the social aspect (less human interaction) was appreciated by some participants and not by others. Third, the pilots reported both positive and negative emotional appreciation. Some respondents found the parcel lockers a convenient concept, while others were unsatisfied with the parcel locker delivery service or felt that it resulted in extra work.

Conclusions, recommendations and follow-up research

To conclusively assess the impact of a parcel locker more parcels need to be delivered via the parcel locker. The more parcels that are handled via a parcel locker, the quicker it will become clear what savings can be achieved, both in terms of direct costs, as well as their indirect effects on kilometres driven and sustainability. Moreover, it is important to view the deployment of parcel lockers in the context of a campus and/or city hub. Deliveries can be further bundled at a hub, as well as being pre-sorted by size or other characteristics that determine whether an order is appropriate for delivery via a parcel locker.

The literature and Campus Heijendaal studies have shown that it is desirable to let employees choose whether or not to use parcel lockers. This choice seems paradoxical in relation to the above, but this is what will promote positive emotional and social experiences and reduce negative experiences.

Finally, when locating parcel lockers, it is important to consider a number of issues. In the studies, the majority of participants mentioned a walk of up to four minutes as acceptable, and we note that it is advisable to place parcel lockers on an employee’s daily route to their workplace. Moreover, employee service levels can be increased by placing lockers where currently no delivery service is available.