Packstation is a service run by DHL Parcel Germany, a business unit of Deutsche Post's Mail division, in Germany. It provides automated booths for self-service collection of parcels and oversize letters as well as self-service dispatch of parcels 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Packstation started as a pilot project in 2001 and was quickly expanded. In November 2011 there were 2500 Packstation machines in Germany. Only ordinary parcels and letters delivered by Deutsche Post can be delivered to Packstations. Moreover, Deutsche Post allows its subsidiary DHL Express Germany to insert a limited number of express parcels.
A major market for Packstation is the increasing number of single people, especially students and time-poor professionals, who purchase products online but are not normally at home at daytime to accept deliveries, or who do not have the time to deposit parcels at the post office during normal opening hours.   As of September 2011 there were 2,000,000 registered Packstation customers in Germany according to Deutsche Post.
Deutsche Post planned to set up a total of 2,400 Packstations in Germany by 2009. Its aim is that eventually no customer should need to travel more than 10 minutes to reach a Packstation.   The manufacturer of the Packstation is the Austrian company KEBA.
- 1 Operation
- 2 Packstation for businesses
- 3 A few difficulties of using a Packstation
- 4 Similar systems
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Using Packstations is free of charge both for private and business customers, however prior registration through the web portal Paket.de  is required for collection of parcels.
Each customer obtains a magnetic stripe card ("Goldcard") and PIN that can be used to identify the customer at Packstation machines and post offices. Previously, it was possible to use the Packstation by entering the customer number and the PIN. This was changed in 2011 in order to increase security as said by DHL, usage of the Goldcard is mandatory now. On 29 October 2012, a mandatory mTAN was introduced, this is transmitted solely in the SMS notification. Each mTAN is valid only for one opening procedure (which may entitle to open several booths if the recipient has received numerous shipments), hereby replacing the PIN.
The addressing system used for Packstations is slightly different from standard mail. A customer who wishes to pick up a delivery at a Packstation must specify its address according to the following scheme:
Max Mustermann 12345678 Packstation 123 12345 Berlin
where "Max Mustermann" is the name of the recipient, "12345678" is the customer/recipient number, "Packstation 123" is the Packstation machine registered identification, and "12345 Berlin" is the traditional postal code and city for the location of the Packstation.
The customer number is permanently assigned to a recipient. Number and location of a Packstation can be looked up online prior to receiving a delivery.
A customer is not tied to a particular Packstation, but is free to choose a different one for each delivery.
Delivery and Collection
If a parcel or letter is addressed to a Packstation, it is delivered directly to the specified booth. If the destination is full, the parcel is diverted to the nearest booth with free compartments or to the nearest post office. It is also diverted to the post office if it is too large to fit into the compartments.
As soon as the parcel arrives at the Packstation, the customer is notified by SMS and email. He or she then has seven business days to collect the package. The customer logs in with their Goldcard and mTAN, and retrieves the parcel.
Customers without Packstation cards
Parcels addressed to a house number (instead of a customer number) are diverted to a Packstation if the recipient is not available to sign for the delivery. In those instances, the recipient receives a green card with a bar code and address of the Packstation. The recipient then goes to the Packstation at his convenience, holds the bar code under the scanner, and follows the simple instructions on the screen. The locker with the parcel then opens automatically and the recipient retrieves the parcel. Delivery in this manner does not require advance registration.
To send a parcel from a Packstation, the customer must first buy a package stamp at a post office, online or directly at a Packstation booth.
The client logs in with his/her Goldcard and PIN and scans the bar code on the package stamp. After the parcel size is specified, a compartment opens where the parcel can be placed. The maximum size for parcels is 60 × 35 × 35 cm.
Packstation for businesses
Since January 2004, DHL has offered in-house Packstations for large businesses (with more than 3000 employees). This service is especially attractive for businesses whose employees frequently receive private parcels at their work address. The Packstation can be a compromise solution that still allows employees to receive parcels without straining the company's resources. The first business to set up a Packstation in-house was SAP in Walldorf (number 801 and 803). Unlike public Packstations, the location of in-house Packstations is not published on the internet. BASF, Siemens, T-Mobile, and T-Online have also set up Packstations on their premises.
Packstation for Technicians
Public Packstations are often used by businesses to deliver spare parts to service technicians working in the field, or on the way to the customer.
A few difficulties of using a Packstation
Wheelchair users might have trouble using the Packstations, because some of the compartments are too high for wheelchair access.
The user of a Packstation must agree to give up his/her right to decline acceptance of a delivery, when registering for the service. A traditional parcel delivery to a home address or for collection at a post office can be rejected by the customer if visible damage has occurred to the packaging, or if it is an unwanted delivery. However, Packstation customers have the option of filing a complaint with the nearest post office.
The Austrian Postal Service introduced a virtually identical service called Post.24-Station in November 2006. The booths are manufactured by the same company that makes the Packstations, KEBA. In Vienna, Stations have been erected in supermarkets, petrol stations, and post offices that can easily be reached by public transport.
A company called Smartpost, run by the Finnish company Itella runs a network of self-service parcel terminals in Finland and Estonia. The terminals are located in shopping centres and other public premises. They enable clients to send and receive parcels and pay for them at the collection point. There is a terminal for every Estonian in a range of a 15-minute drive. In Finland the parcel terminals were introduced in 2011, thus the network being quite small yet, but quickly growing. The parcel terminals and the software running the system are manufactured in Estonia by Cleveron.
Also Latvian company PostService runs a network of 39 self-service parcel terminals in Latvia, called Mana pasta stacija (My Post Station). Terminals are located in 27 largest cities and towns of Latvia. The terminals are constructed and manufactured in Latvia by company Post Service itself.
Polish company InPost Sp. z o.o. runs a network of over 350 self-service parcel terminals in Poland called "Paczkomaty 24/7". Terminals are located in shopping centres car parks and gas stations. The terminals enable clients to send and receive parcels.
Canadian company BufferBox, which was acquired by Google in November 2012, operates a similar system in Ontario.
- Kirchhoff, Petra (2008-04-17). "Die Packstation kann immer" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine.
- Alex Steffen (2008-01-21). "Deutsche Post's Packstation". Worldchanging. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- "Packstation Reaches 2 Mio Customer Mark".
- "Post stellt mehr Paket-Automaten auf – Konzern will Packstationen flächendeckend einführen – Bis Ende 2009 sind rund 2400 Standorte geplant" (in German). Die Welt. 2007-09-12.
- "Post stellt viele Packautomaten auf – Stationen sollen in zehn Minuten erreichbar sein" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 2007-09-12.
- "Packstation erhöht Sicherheits-Standards". DHL Packstation Newsletter. DHL. 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- "Pasta stacija - your delivery service".
- "Paczkomaty InPost".
- "Paczkomaty InPost".