Through a patented system of smart lock technology, the locker boxes were made available to customers round the clock. All they had to do was deposit the laundry, make payment, track the status of it using a mobile app, then retrieve it once they are ready.
But Box24’s Founder and CEO Bond Thaiyanurak did not stop at laundry. He believed his locker box technology could, potentially, serve any sector that required last mile logistics solutions.
So in the past year in its domestic Thai market, Box24 has expanded into other horizontals by partnering with businesses, launching other services under the umbrella of the Box24 brand.
For e-commerce delivery, Box24 partnered with two leading Thai retail chains — Tesco and BigC to launch a service called ShopBox24. For parcel delivery, it partnered with delivery company Kerry Express to deploy MoveBox24. It will also be deploying personal storage services with Kerry this year.
But locker box solutions are not exactly a novel value proposition. Regionally, there are already a plethora of existing locker box solutions such as SingPost’s POPStation, or Indonesia’s PopBox. So how does Box24 differentiate itself?
The advantage of building hardware in-house
“First off, we are cost competitive,” says Thaiyanurak, in an interview with e27.”We have a very different business model from other players — we are selling the lockers.”
He claims that Box24’s lockers cost US$5,000 per piece, which is seven times cheaper than that of PopStation.
Thaiyanurak explains that most companies like SingPost and Popbox outsource the construction of locker boxes to suppliers overseas, then ship it over.
The high cost of shipping bulking goods overseas, as well as the margin suppliers charge (at least 30 per cent, he says) on top of the manufacturing fees drives up costs which is in turn, passed down to the consumer.
For Box24, it bypasses this sore point by manufacturing locker boxes in-house in each respective markets.
“We produce the lockers in Singapore at the same cost as we do in Thailand. This is because we source [materials] from the local steel shop then go to Mustafa (a popular shopping mall) to buy the computer screens and just merge them together to build the electronic lockers. Our make-up is totally different [from the competitors],” says Thaiyanurak.
“We want to own the technology because in that way, we can be flexible and adapt to our customers’ needs much more quickly. Our tech is very scalable,” he adds.
Box24 consists of a team of 15 people. Some work on the app, others are mechanical engineers who work on the physical lockers.
“Some people think we’re in the laundry business. Some think we’re in e-commerce. But the fact is: we’re a HaaS (Hardware-as-a-Service) startup that focusses on building a logistic infrastructure to create greater customer engagement and economic value for our business partners,” says Thaiyanurak.
Box24 also stands out with its “Flexi-door” technology, which allows multiple small doors to be merged into one bigger door in order to store goods of different sizes.
Box24 is now present in 70 locations in Bangkok and plans to expand that figure to 120 this year. It will also grow the number of lockers in Singapore to 50, up from five.
It will also be expanding into two new regional markets — Malaysia and India. It plans to launch 50 lockers in Malaysia, while in India, it has signed an MOU with a partner to begin operations in Q2 2017.
Currently, Thaiyanurak is in talks to sign partnerships with other e-commerce portals include Lazada.
Aside from that he is focussing deploying the locker boxes in as many locations as possible.
“As a a HaaS company. I’m not worried about the tech at all. The key challenge here is moving fast in the physical world. We need to pre-empt and take the good location before others [competitors] take it,'” he concludes.
Image Credit: Box24