Industry

Injap Sia Bets on Return of 'PO Boxes' With MerryMart's New Smart Lockers Venture

The plan is to roll out 5,000 of these Smart Boxes nationwide in the next nine years.
IMAGE MERRYMART
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Ecommerce has seen a surge during the pandemic, with more people ordering things online and having them delivered straight to their doorstep through logistics and delivery platforms. But safety and health concerns have given rise to a need for absolute contactless delivery, not to mention operational efficiency issues on the part of couriers and merchants. 

Edgar “Injap” Sia believes he has the solution to these pain points. Through his MerryMart Consumer Corp, Sia is unveiling a new MBox Smart Locker venture.

How MBox Smart Lockers work

Similar to the old post office or PO boxes, it’s a system of self-service lockers where customers can collect and drop off packages at their convenience “at minimal or no additional cost.” Packages are delivered to MBOX Smart Lockers by accredited couriers and online sellers, eliminating the need for face-to-face contact. As soon as a package arrives, the locker sends a pickup code via SMS/App notification to alert the receiver.

The Smart Box works the other way, too: when a customer wants to send a package, he or she can just drop it off at the nearest MBOX Smart Locker at their convenience. Processing the sending and return of their packages can be done online through the MBOX App, which means they can skip the long queues at courier branches.

MerryMart believes the idea also simplifies the process on the part of the courier and delivery platforms. Instead of making several stops, a courier can deliver multiple parcels to just one secure location, saving time and reducing costs. It also minimizes failed deliveries and helps the environment through the reduction of traffic and carbon emissions. 

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MerryMart, which offers online delivery, will also benefit from the MBOX Smart Locker through pick-up options for customers, which the company hopes will eliminate the bottleneck effect of multiple people waiting to pick up their order at the same time. For example, after a customer places an order and remits payment digitally, he or she will be alerted through the app once the order is ready and they can pick up their order from the Smart Locker at their convenience. No physical interaction between customer and courier takes place.

Photo by MerryMart.

The MBOX Smart Lockers app will be available in both iOS and Android systems and the units to be deployed this year will have built-in UV disinfection.

"This pandemic has seen a record rise in deliveries and has highlighted the need for a contactless efficient green delivery alternative,” Sia says. “But beyond this, we believe that MBOX will improve Filipinos' online purchase experience and give consumers, couriers and merchants a more convenient, efficient, and secure alternative of delivering and receiving packages.”

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New MTech unit 

The MBox Smart Locker venture is the first business unit under MerryMart’s consumer technology portfolio called MTech. According to the company, this subsidiary “will consist of consumer technology companies that may be wholly owned by MerryMart’s consumer technology arm or through joint ventures with strategic partners that will bring long-term operating value to each business unit.”

Typical of Sia’s aggressive and forward-thinking approach to business, a venture under this new unit “must have the potential to eventually become the largest and the most dominant player in its specific consumer technology field.”

The company plans an initial rollout of 100 Smart Lockers this year in high-density cities, MerryMart branches, commercial centers, LGU halls, condominiums, subdivisions and office buildings across Metro Manila. The target is to expand the network to 5,000 MBOX Smart Lockers nationwide by 2030 

“We envision MBOX to soon be a must-have in practically each and every strategic spot in the country,” Sia adds.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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