Wednesday February 08, 2023
18-01-23

Interview – OOHPod founder unveils big growth ambitions

John Tuohy at an OOHPod locker
John Tuohy at an OOHPod locker

Irish parcel locker firm OOHPod has ambitious plans to expand its carrier-neutral solutions outside of its home markets of Northern Ireland and Ireland and into the UK, Europe and beyond, founder and CEO John Tuohy told CEP-Research exclusively following news that UPS will close down his former company Parcel Motel at the end of this month.

OOHPod offers parcel lockers which are open to all carriers, consumers and merchants to use. The company was founded in late 2021 and today has 30 live locations in Ireland and Northern Ireland, with plans to add an additional 80 throughout 2023.

International enquiries

“We have already reached an agreement with Lidl in Ireland and Northern Ireland to place parcel lockers at all its stores,” explained Tuohy. “We are also looking to expand into mainland UK, and we’ve registered our trademark worldwide. We have already had several international enquiries from around Europe and from Latin America. We are progressing these now.”

Tuohy highlighted how the closure of Parcel Motel at the end of this month could offer OOHPod several growth opportunities. “The closure of Parcel Motel and subsequent removal of its lockers means that there will be several available sites that are already prepared for a parcel locker,” he explained. “We are hopeful that we can quickly backfill the Parcel Motel locations with OOHPods.”  

The Parcel Motel story

Tuohy founded Parcel Motel in 2012 as part of the Nightline Logistics Group. The brand grew to be hugely popular in Ireland, with lockers located at supermarkets, 24-hour shops and petrol stations across the country. In 2017 UPS acquired Nightline and Parcel Motel in a deal which was reportedly worth €30 million.

Although the Parcel Motel brand was much loved in Ireland, Tuohy was not surprised by UPS’s decision to close the network at the end of this month. “The parcel machines are around 10 years old now,” he said. “UPS needed to make a decision on whether to continue investing in the network and buy new lockers, or to look at alternatives.”

One of those alternatives, according to Tuohy, is outsourcing. “A key trend in the parcel delivery sector currently is to outsource assets,” he commented. “I believe UPS is looking to move to an asset light model for its out-of-home (OOH) delivery solutions. It is very expensive to expand a privately-owned, exclusive use parcel locker network like Parcel Motel.”

Open networks

Although some carriers have made big investments in privately-owned locker networks, such as those in the Nordics, the Baltics and in Germany, Tuohy believes that the parcels market will move toward a carrier-neutral approach in the future, one which OOHPod is specifically designed to serve.

“I believe that the fact that the OOHPods are open for all to use is what is attracting the international enquiries,” Tuohy noted. “Retail stores can use them for click and collect orders, for example. Or big carriers like UPS can use them for deliveries, and local people, such as those selling on C2C platforms like Vinted and Depop, can drop off and collect parcels in a low cost and low emission way.”

UPS is already using OOHPods in Northern Ireland as part of its Access Point network. “We only went live with that in December,” said Tuohy. “We expect that relationship to expand into Ireland when they open Access Point as part of their service there.”

Quick and easy

As the lockers are carrier-agnostic, couriers don’t “sign up” to use them. Instead, consumers and small businesses register online and include a payment method. They then receive an eight digital OOH ID. When ordering something online for delivery, users simple enter their name, their OOH ID and the address of their chosen OOHPod location. Once the order has gone through, the consumer then receives an access code which they enter to collect the parcel at the locker.

“It doesn’t require IT integration and takes about 30 seconds to place a parcel or collect a parcel at the locker,” Tuohy added. “It just requires cooperation from the couriers. They just come along and key in the OOH ID and place the parcels in the lockers.”

Tuohy noted that couriers have been “really cooperative” so far. “An Post couriers, for example, have been using the lockers with no issues at all,” he added.

Shared investment costs

The carrier-agnostic nature of the OOHPods also means that the cost of development can be shared, according to Tuohy. “We have two approaches when it comes to the locations for the lockers,” he said. “The first is public locations, such as petrol stations, transport hubs and convenience stores.

“The second is private locations, such as privately-owned residential developments, particularly apartment buildings, which is a strong area of interest for us. In these locations, the owners of the private residential developments are paying for the parcel lockers as a benefit for their resident. This really helps with the capital investment costs,” Tuohy added.

He also noted that as the OOHPods use a standardised system for set up and operations, unlike other locker solutions on the market, the cost of installation is low. “The lockers and how they work are the same regardless of whether they are located in an apartment building or at a petrol station,” Tuohy concluded.

SourceOOHPod, CEP-Research
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