Almost every year, holiday season shopping numbers break the previous year’s record especially when it comes to ecommerce. With such massive volumes of online deliveries, comes the threat of porch piracy.
According to a recent study, almost one in five homeowners in the US have fallen victim to porch piracy, which spikes around the holiday season. Another report by a home security system company listed 10 major cities where residents were most likely to get a package stolen, including Austin, Atlanta, Miami and Salt Lake City.
According to another study, Americans are spending $109 on average to replace stolen items, while shelling out an additional $191 on preventative measures to avoid package theft, such as installing motion lights, buying a doorbell camera, putting up a fence and purchasing an Amazon smart key.
Porch piracy has become so common that ecommerce companies, retailers and logistics providers are deploying all sorts of tools and countermeasures to protect packages.
FedEx, for instance, allows customers receiving expensive items to pick up their packages from one of its retail outlets. Amazon has installed lockers in more than 900 cities and towns across the US to keep packages safe from porch pirates. FedEx and UPS have partnered with retailers to provide safe pickup points for online deliveries. FedEx also offers package pickups and drop-offs to its customers at any of the 8,000 Walgreen’s locations across the US. UPS, in partnership with Michael’s, has rolled out UPS safe Access Points for customers in 1,100 Michael's craft stores.
Tips to Prevent Porch Piracy
The survey highlighted that factors such as the location of the box (easier to steal from the front porch), branded packaging, a descriptive explanation of the contents of the box (fragile), and the size of the box (smaller ones are easier to grab) make packages more appealing to porch pirates.
Online retailers feel that preventing porch piracy is out of their control. However, once packages get stolen, retailers and logistics providers are left with two options - a free replacement of the missing packages or the risk of losing customers.
By taking preemptive measures, businesses can reduce the chances of potential theft and keep their customers happy.
Offer theft insurance: The Shorr survey revealed that 53% of customers would pay more for a product if a retailer or delivery service provider offered theft insurance.
Package the boxes discreetly: In the same survey, 37% of customers agreed to pay more for discreet packaging that hides expensive products or brands from thieves.
Deliver to a secure location: Almost 71% of customers in the Shorr survey said they would be flexible in having packages delivered to a secure address, such as their workplace Post Office, Amazon Locker or UPS store.
While the above options may take some time to fully implement, what approach should businesses follow now to address porch piracy? Here are some tips:
- You can alert shoppers to the growing package theft problem during checkout on your website and suggest preventive measures like flexible delivery times.
- Offer Ship-to-Store delivery options. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can offer customers the option of picking up their orders at your store instead of getting it delivered. Walmart is offering a ship-to-store option. Amazon is tweaking this strategy a little and asking customers to get their orders delivered at any secure locker near their delivery address.
- Offer a package tracking facility to customers. Customers should be able to track their packages so that they can anticipate the delivery time and plan accordingly. You can use route optimization software for sending real-time alerts to customers just before a parcel is left on their doorstep and immediately after it’s delivered. This will help customers make themselves available and prevent theft.
There is no single best solution for protecting packages from thieves. A good tactic for retailers is to allow multiple delivery options for customers. This way, they can choose the option that they feel will best protect their package and also work best for their schedule. From offering store pick up, to having parcels delivered to their work address, allowing customers to choose an option leaves less room for theft. Regardless of how retailers want to tackle the problem, they must stay proactive and work with customers to resolve any issues that arise from missing or stolen packages.
Guest Contributor: Dan Khasis is a technology entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Route4Me, a logistics software company.