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Circular thinking: how smart lockers can support retail rental schemes

Retailers are increasingly adopting more circular business practices as they look to reduce their impact on the planet. Many multichannel retailers have recently announced product rental ranges, as they add greener services to their armoury.

Decathlon and Jigsaw, for example, are ramping up their rental offerings so consumers can hire goods rather than buy.

Home improvement retailer, B&Q, partnered with industry-leading tool hire company, Speedy Hire, opening concessions in stores.

Department stores Harrods and Selfridges have teamed up with online rental businesses My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr, while Moss Bros and LK Bennett have announced subscription rental partnerships with Caastle.

From an environmental perspective, the idea is that goods can enjoy a longer life when used by more people, with hire services preventing an item from being purchased and used sparingly before it is thrown away by one single owner.

As well as the environment, rental schemes can offer additional benefits to the retailer and consumer too.

Retailers want additional revenue streams and to expand their multichannel offering. Brands are now realising that offering rental alongside retail does not cannibalise, but rather it compliments their existing proposition. Just like the benefits of click & collect (additional footfall and halo-spend), rental schemes may help to attract new audiences and drive additional sales.

Customers on the other hand, demand more (conscious) choices, affordability, and convenience. Rental gives consumers more choice, and the chance to access products which may be out of their price range to purchase.

Expanding your offering to rental can meet all of these if executed well.

Just as the retail industry takes steps to become more sustainable and forward-thinking there is potential for the processes used to facilitate rental schemes to evolve using smart technology.

Look into lockers

Buying online and collecting from a smart retail locker in-store is one of several hot omnichannel trends because it offers an additional (and cheaper) delivery option for the customer. There is no reason that retailers couldn’t use this smart retail technology to facilitate rental orders too.

Any rental customer in store is going to want a different experience to that of a traditional consumer. There are different needs and terms of contract involved that require separate types of service.

As retailers have found with the advent of click & collect and growth in product returns to shops prompted by the rise of online retailing, catering for new consumer journeys in bricks and mortar destinations can cause a headache for store operations.

Be it queues and congestion, or shop staff’s time taken up by those not looking to purchase something new, these problems have only really been smoothed in recent years by the introduction of dedicated lockers for picking up or returning goods.

Parcel Pending by Quadient Smart Retail Pickup Lockers could provide an alternative – and more efficient, affordable – route to rental schemes.

Conveniently placed lockers in or outside stores would give consumers and retailers another – potentially better – solution to support their circular activity. They could be the conduit between the consumer, retailer, and rental partner.

They separate the customers in store so that those who are just collecting orders, can self-serve and retrieve their purchase from a locker in just seven seconds. Those who are browsing the store or require service are able to make use of the staff whose time is now freed up from managing online orders.

Thinking about the future

Although the likes of My Wardrobe HQ, Rent the Runway and Hirestreet have forged ahead in terms of launching and running online hire services for established brands. If retailers want to stay true to omnichannel promises or develop rental offerings in-house in the future, it makes sense to permit consumers to bring back their online orders to stores where possible.

Collecting these items via lockers which require QR codes for access provides a transparent and convenient process for picking up and dropping off rental orders – for both retailer and consumer. (It separates the customers in-store, so those collecting/dropping off orders can do so in a locker, without the need for staff intervention).

Storing and fulfilling rental orders in smart lockers outside a retail store also means consumers can quickly pick up orders if they are in a rush, 24/7.

If you are looking to expand your take-back, rental, or repair services as part of your sustainability strategy, let’s have a chat to see if Parcel Pending by Quadient lockers can play a part in your circularity activity.

Learn more about how retail smart lockers work here.

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