By Meg Olson
Brothers Robert and David Li’s introduction to Point Roberts was the same as it is for many who choose to visit from Canada. They were picking up a package.
“We buy a lot of things in the states and it’s ridiculous waiting in line,” said Robert. “We wanted to think of some way to remove the inefficiency.”
What they did was start In Out Parcel at 145 Tyee Drive, a building the brothers had purchased in 2013 as an investment property.
After spending too many Saturdays lining up at the border, then standing in line in the rain at a parcel service, then lining up again to return home to Vancouver, “We came up with the idea of opening our own parcel place so at least we didn’t have to wait to pick up a package,” David said. “Line-ups for parcel pickup can be excruciatingly long, especially during weekends and major holidays.”
The problem of long lines plagues all traditional parcel places, David said, because with an employee at a computer terminal locating and retrieving a package and collecting fees, it takes minutes per customer, and there are usually no more than a few terminals at each business. By automating parcel pickup, minutes are shaved to seconds and, with more than 2,000 lockers, In Out Parcel can promise parcel retrieval in 30 seconds or less.
“Everything is automated,” Robert said. “It’s extremely quick. Kind of like a bank machine.”
Clients set up an account, prepay their fees and have parcels shipped to their account number. When the parcel arrives at In Out, the client is sent an email with a pin code. That code will allow them access to the building and to locate and open the locker that contains their parcel. “It’s available 24 hours a day,” Robert said. The business also offers traditional counter service during staffed hours, “for people who like to talk to a person,” but Robert said 90 percent of their volume goes into the lockers.
Robert said in addition to enhancing customer service, they also thought of community impacts when making the decision to automate. “We are offloading a lot of trips to the night, so it impacts traffic,” he said, especially on Saturday, the day that most people can make it during traditional business hours to pick up a package.
To learn more about In Out Parcel and its services, or to sign up, visit inoutparcel.com.