Welcome to My Parcel Box

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Welcome to My Parcel Box, a project I have been itching to finish for some years now. It all started when I brought my first product to market, called a Brizebox. There is no such thing as a perfect design, and everything can be improved upon, especially if it is the first iteration of a product. This is also true for Brizebox and the product rapidly evolved. Originally, I had only conceived a product with a door on the front of the unit. It wasn’t until someone in Australia asked me to produce them with the option of a door on the rear, that this evolution started to take place. Then, our stock levels doubled as we had units with doors on the front, and units with doors on the rear. I overcame this problem by coming up with the idea of a switchable door, which could be on the front or rear, combined with a blank panel to plug the opposing hole. So obvious once I had come to think of it, but it wasn’t so obvious before that point. This is how products evolve; slowly, and over time.

Another idea which came to me quite early on was to have a unit with a flat roof, which could be built into a wall. I had no idea how popular this concept would become, and it was a real eye-opener to see how keen people were to customise their parcel boxes to uniquely suit their property. Now, many sales came from people wanting a Built-In unit. However, the idea which surprised me the most was the Extra-Large parcel box. My original thought for designing a very large parcel box was more as a publicity stunt, than anything else. I thought people would laugh at such a large unit and would not want something that big outside their homes. I thought we may sell a few commercially to office buildings, but nothing more than that. I had so little faith in the concept that I didn’t even design a Built-In version because I thought I’d be wasting my time. Imagine my surprise when, not only did they start selling, but one day someone rang me and asked for an Extra-Large, Built-In version. I made a few in the next production run, and we were off! 70% of sales now came in for the Extra-Large parcel boxes!

However, the Brizebox product was still not right and there were aspects of the design which were holding us back. There were three main problems which irked me.

The first problem was the way Brizebox was designed with a curved roof. Being a curved roof, it had to be welded in place, and this is a slow labour-intensive process. I wanted a product which could easily be mass-produced, and this was never going to happen with so much welding. Additionally, welding is harmful, not only for the environment, but also for the operator. This had to change.

  • To avoid welding, we simply used pop-rivets instead. It did mean we could no longer use a curved roof, but we think our pitched roof looks great, and is a breath of fresh air.

This led onto the second problem, which is rust. Brizeboxes are made of galvanised steel, but where the product is welded, the weld must be ground down to give a smooth finish, which removes the galvanised coating and exposes the mild steel underneath, which is vulnerable to corrosion. I was never happy to put my name to a product which may start to rust within a couple of years. I wanted a product which would last a long time, and one I could be proud of. This had to change too.

  • The rusting issue was easily resolved by doing away with galvanised steel and using Aluzinc instead. Aluzinc is the material used for metal roofs, such as on farm buildings and warehouses etc. The reason it is used in these environments is because it is non-corrosive, so it allows roofs to stay in good repair for a very
    long time, without rusting, no matter what the weather. If it’s good enough for industrial roofs, why not for parcel boxes too?

The third problem was the success of the Extra-Large unit. The problem was, the Extra-Large unit was too big and heavy for a single courier to carry by themselves, so it had to be loaded onto a pallet and delivered by a freight forwarder. This is expensive. It gets even more expensive the further away the customer is. This prevented expansion. The cost to ship a unit from the UK to Europe was prohibitively expensive, so the European market was not available to us. This situation was amplified in the US. North America is a vast territory, ripe for the parcel box market, but its scale made it prohibitive for shipping Extra-Large parcel boxes around. If we wanted to grow, things had to change.

  • The solution was to design a modular system, which enabled us to split the parcel box in half. By splitting the unit in two, this halved the size and weight of the Extra-Large boxes, enabling them to be sent through the normal courier network, at a greatly reduced cost. Simple, but genius! The modular design led onto other clever ideas being hatched. One of these ideas was to flat pack the lower section of the parcel box. By implementing flat packing, we were able to fit 50% more units into a container, as well as reducing warehouse costs. Two birds with one stone! Other strokes of genius were to have modular roofs i.e., the flat-roof, garden-roof and pitched-roof, and the addition of Pickup boxes and Cool boxes. The Pickup box and Cool box had not been done before, but all great innovations must start somewhere. We just planted the seed, to see whether it would grow.

Thank you for reading. More instalments coming along very soon!

Brian Willcox.