I'm wondering.. It sounds exactly like what the german post service offers. You order something, it get's delivered to some automated station where you can pick up the package at any time..
Is this not common in other countries?
Nope. The common option in the US and Canada is to get DHL or its equivalent to come to your door and deliver it. The problem comes when you are not home and they require a signature. In this case they usually attempt again. If none of the attempts work, they store it in their warehouses for a bit, and if no one comes and picks it up, it's returned to sender.
Speaking of which, why don't someone just sell boxes for peoples homes? You know, some reasonable size container that you can only put things into but not take out of. Wouldn't that eliminate that reason for BufferBox? I think the only use case remaining would be in urban areas where space is at a premium.
EDIT (in response to leddt since I can't reply): if you ask UPS to leave the packages without signing, will they refuse to do this even if they are placing it in a secure place?
I've been thinking that this could be an interesting idea, especially when you consider that the Webvan model now seems to be becoming a reality. A larger size delivery box for everything from dry cleaning to packages, maybe with a refrigerated portion for groceries. Maybe with some kind of access control so they couldn't be targeted by thieves, with codes that could expire?
The Austrian postal service does something like this. People can install boxes on their homes that will be used to deliver packets. I believe for a single household it is quite expensive though, but probably useful for larger buildings that could share a box.
(They are also starting to put up automatic stations, like the German postal service does.)
That's the normal procedure in germany as well.
But the "package station" offer is also available, plus if you have one nearby sometimes they send it there instead of the next post office. Unfortunately they closed my "package station"..
In Sweden, the Swedish Post partners with thousands of grocery stores and corner shops and similar that act as package stations.
So when I order something, the default is that I get an SMS notification when I can pick it up at my local grocery store whenever I want, not that someone tries to deliver it to me while I'm not at home.
In the Netherlands, most package delivery companies, including TNT Post, will attempt (after you're discovered to not be home) to deliver to the neighbors. After another attempt at your home, you have go pick it up at their office.
TNT Post has "offices" located in many local stores so that's pretty easy.
There's no automated service, but you can have the post office hold any package for you for a week or so. These guys look like they're going after the online retailer distribution market though, similar to Amazon's upcoming "lockers" platform.