A smart lock startup is aiming to address the growing problem of porch piracy by securing ecommerce deliveries through barcode scanning by parcel carriers.
BoxLock, which launched in early July, went live on Prime Day and is available exclusively for Prime members, for the time being. Other natural channels include home improvement chains and electronics sellers.
It’s the brainchild of founder Brad Ruffkess, who came up with the concept after experiencing firsthand the limitations of home security cameras as theft deterrents.
“As I was moving from my condo to my house I came to the realization that I was going to have to protect the 100 deliveries a year I was getting,” said Ruffkess, who lives in Atlanta. “So, I installed cameras to keep an eye on things. The next day I watched a guy walk up and steal two things off my porch. Cameras do a good job seeing but not necessarily protecting deliveries.”
Ruffkess, who worked on marketing and brand initiatives for Coca-Cola, worked with San Francisco design consultancy Propelland on creating the prototype for BoxLock and began testing it earlier this year in a few select Atlanta ZIP codes.
The carrier-agnostic system lets a delivery driver scan the barcode, open the lock and deposit the package in the customer’s storage unit, with encryption technology protecting customer data. The BoxLock only opens after confirming the package is out for delivery and addressed to the homeowner, preventing the use of fake or even old labels addressed to the homeowner.
Ruffkess said BoxLock not only reduces porch theft but also gets drivers on their way faster, creating efficiency for carriers, reduces chargebacks for merchants and can drive greater customer loyalty.
“It will make drivers’ routes more reliable, saving time and reducing re-deliveries,” he said. “When they walk up and ring the bell, they might be waiting 30 seconds or two minutes with no idea if someone’s coming. Now they can scan and drop the package and be on their way in under 20 seconds.”
While outdoor storage units are not exactly a fixture of residential areas, Ruffkess is banking on consumers warming to the idea, given the increasing volume of ecommerce deliveries and the fact that about one in five American homeowners have been victims of porch piracy.
“Increasingly they’ll want some way to protect those deliveries,” he said. “Over time the front porch will evolve to receive deliveries. We’re working with different container manufacturer partners so people can find a solution that fits the decor of their home, that’s not overly utilitarian and doesn’t take away from the home’s curb appeal.”
For instance, Ruffkess said he has two planters in front of his home, one of which is actually a container for deliveries with a BoxLock. He’s also working with residential development firms on the concept of integrated containers that are part of the design of new construction vs. being an add-on item.
Compared to Amazon Key – which gives drivers access to a home or the trunk of a car via smart locks in markets where Prime Now is available – BoxLock isn’t limited by geography or seller.
As far as rerouting options like office deliveries and pickup lockers or locations, Ruffkess said the former can involve items being lost or misdirected in a large company, while some might find the latter inconvenient.
“There are 20 million U.S. residents in high rises and multi-family dwellings that could potentially get deliveries to a locker, but another 75 million in single-family homes or small businesses,” he said.