French letterboxes get bigger for the boom in home parcel delivery

The inventors were motivated by the fact they realised they were getting fewer letters but more parcels

Olivier de Rodellec with his BoksOne, which is four times larger than a standard letterbox

Frustration over missed parcels has inspired two Frenchmen to reinvent the letterbox with a digital locking system and in a larger size.

“We got the idea in 2016 when we realised that we were getting fewer and fewer letters but more and more parcels, and standard boxes were not adapted,” said Olivier de Rodellec, who developed a solution with consultant Adrien Oksman.

“For me, this meant getting more and more notes about missed parcels from La Poste or going to Point Relay shops, which usually meant hurrying to get there before they closed.”

Their letterbox, BoksOne, is four times larger than a standard mailbox and costs €359.

Each time something is ordered online, a unique code generated by the Boks app can be copied into the delivery information.

This is printed on the parcel label for couriers to read and type into the BoksOne keypad when they drop off the order.

A code can also be activated remotely and relayed to the delivery person if they telephone.

The parcel recipient can then open the BoksOne using the keypad, Bluetooth (via the app), or a traditional key.

They can also invite family members to use it or give temporary access to a neighbour.

It does not need an electric or wifi connection.

Standard French letterboxes, which come with keys issued to La Poste staff and trusted delivery companies, are available from all post offices for €63.

Both cheaper and more expensive models can be found in DIY shops.

Increasingly, however, the 30cm x 30cm x 41cm size is too small for packages as more and more people order online.

The wide availability of keys to unlock them can also cause security problems.

Parisians have complained that thieves help themselves from the rows of boxes found in the entrance of many blocks of flats, for example.

By comparison, the BoksOne measures 70cm x 40cm x 37cm.

There are also larger boxes available for businesses (the ‘Pro’) and flats (the ‘Hub’).

“Businesses need somewhere they can have incoming parcels received easily, and where customers can, if they want, pick up their goods,” said Mr de Rodellec.

“That is where we come in.”

Other companies have also developed postboxes suitable for parcels.

One, from British company Smart Parcel Box, operates by having two compartments.

The delivery is made in the top one and drops into the secure bottom one, which is accessible by key.

Each box has a barcode for delivery staff to scan as proof of delivery and prices start from €122 for a model slightly smaller than the BoksOne.

There is also a larger model from Boks – looking a bit like the Amazon Hub Lockers popular in the UK and US, which La Poste has branded to use in some of its post offices.

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