What’s old is new again when it comes to the literal last steps of last-mile delivery. It’s not the buggy whip, but it is the return of the home “milk door” with 21st century features and functions.
Common in the first half of the last century, the milk door was a spot built into the exterior of a house for the delivery of bottled milk from local dairies. Now, with home delivery surging in the wake of the pandemic and ever-evolving convenience trends, a California company has launched a compartment called the Fresh Portal to keep foods fresh between home delivery and customer pickup.
Installed in the exterior wall of a home or office, the stainless steel cabinet holds four full-sized paper grocery bags. Once activated, the unit sends a one-time access code to the person making the delivery. When the delivery person closes the door, the packages are sterilized with a disinfection light, assuaging homeowner concerns about sanitation in the COVID-19 era. Homeowners can control the Fresh Portal from an app on their smart device, which also enables them to monitor activity when items are dropped off at the location.
The invention addresses quality issues in the very last part of last-mile delivery, according to Jeremy High, founder and CEO of Fresh Portal. “Now we have the technology to create temperature-controlled delivery units with digital security. Your medicine can stay cool, or your pizza can stay hot in a sealed unit no one can touch without a unique passcode,” he explained.
The units will be available to home builders and will be featured at the International Builders Show in early 2022.