With the e-commerce flurry taking the world by storm, it was only a matter of time before the criminal element saw an opportunity. And indeed they did, and off went the latest trend of the modern internet age – stealing packages from in front of peoples’ doors! There is no shame (apparently).
And while it may not seem like that big of a deal, in the US it’s estimated that one third of all online shoppers have had at least one theft of a online purchase from their doorstep.
With the ever widening availability of products on offer now, pricey electronics like cell phones are all on offer. But, concerns over theft are logically causing some online consumers to hold back on expensive online purchases, with one US study finding 41 per cent of respondents avoid buying certain items online because they’re afraid the packages will get stolen, with electronics being at the top of the list.
The Internet retailers have not been oblivious to the plight of their customers and have come up with various strategies to address this pernicious porch piracy. Unofficially most retailers – at least in the US – deal with the problem by routinely re-sending products reported as undelivered with few questions asked.
We can’t quite imagine that happening in Asia (where we are based), particularly after the struggle one Belly Acher went through simply trying to get a refund for a product that was ordered and never delivered. That’s a long, long story, but suffice to say the ‘un-named’ e-commerce platform (Cough, cough…Lazada… cough) exhibited horrible customer service and won’t be getting any more orders from him!
The Amazon solution
The US e-commerce giant came up with a few solutions, the first being Amazon Lockers. Located in high-profile neighbourhood locations, you get your code and go collect your package. This of course defeats the whole convenience of home delivery though.
Next up, Amazon Key, which combines a smart lock and security camera that will allow delivery services to place packages just inside your front door. Yes indeed, you read correctly… inside your house. We reckon this requires a rather advanced sense of trust and a quick survey of the Belly Achers gave this option a ‘thumbs down’! It’s also not cheap either for this approved ‘home invasion’, starting at USD 250.
The next one – BoxLock – got our thumbs up approval for its sheer tech coolness! The BoxLock is a smart padlock that will open, allowing the delivery persons to place your order inside, after successfully scanning a package. You supply the box, BoxLock will do all the configuring of the Wifi lock. Sounds cool, but not yet available as its still Kickstarter mode.
The Alibaba solution
And of course, not to be left out, the Asian giant, Alibaba has come up with its own solution to this, apparently cross-cultural problem. Although not yet a shipping product, Alibaba has developed a concept smart locker called the Cainiao Box, akin to Google’s tech solution yet even more high-tech.
The idea is that you’d install this high-tech box outside your home and it unlocks using facial recognition. This seems to us a fine piece of flawed logic – I mean, surely you’re not going to have the same delivery driver everyday… so how is the facial recognition going to work in practice!? We guess it could be loaded up with all the faces of the delivery drivers that could possibly deliver to your area… makes sense (at least until one goes all Mission Impossible with facial impersonation). The box will also be temperature-controlled to keep food deliveries warm or cold.
The booby trap solution
Things just wouldn’t be right around the Belly Ache department if we hadn’t thoroughly investigated this topic. And that we did, turning up some very innovative solutions to this problem.
One particular online shopper got so fed up with thieves making off with car parts and electronics that had been delivered while he was at work, that he came up with a devious plan. Jaireme Barrow told The Washington Post: “I was thinking, how could I scare them and make them drop my package and then never come to my front porch again. And I thought, ‘Getting shot at is scary. That’ll make them think twice.’”
Actually shooting someone (although apparently a common pastime in that particular part of the world) did not sit right with Barrow, but he did reckon that some blanks would probably do just as well. So, he started booby-trapping empty boxes with fishing string and a 12-gauge shotgun blank that would go off when thieves picked up the package he left on his porch. Barrow likened it to, “any alarm system. It’s just a loud noise to deter theft. It just happened to be a 12-gauge blank in this case.”
It worked so well that he now sells The Blank Box online, showing its effectiveness via videos of would-be package thieves screaming, falling off the porch and running away.
If this seems like a problem you need a solution to… well… here’s the link (and we disavow any responsibility for lawsuits relating to said solution!): www.theblankbox.com