Smart lockers are changing the way retail shopping is done. Every day, more retailers are recognizing the benefits associated with integrating smart lockers into their in-store pickup services. Smart parcel lockers enhance convenience for customers, giving them the flexibility to choose when they pick up a package, and the comfort of knowing their packages are secure no matter what.
In this article, we’ll break down exactly what smart lockers are and what problems they seek to address. We’ll also look at some of the benefits associated with utilizing smart retail parcel lockers, both from the retailer and customer perspective. Gaining a better understanding of how smart lockers work and what role they play in a retail environment will provide insight into how this locker technology is revolutionizing retail shopping.
Smart Lockers Explained
A smart locker is a storage solution that has integrated technology allowing it to automate package notification and distribution. Once a package is entered into a smart locker system, the recipient is automatically notified that their package is ready for pickup and provided access instructions. Access instructions generally take the form of an order number or barcode that they can scan. Once they arrive at the locker location, the user enters their verification information. Once the verification information is entered correctly the door to the correct locker will open and the customer will be able to retrieve the package.
Why Choose a Smart Locker?
There are a number of reasons why retailers might choose to use a smart locker system. Smart locker systems do a lot, in the sense that they automate a variety of functions that would typically be carried out by one or more people. This improves efficiency and drives down costs. Retailers that use smart locker systems save in more than one area of their operations.
For example, smart lockers reduce labor costs associated with buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) services. Once a store associate retrieves an order and enters it into the locker system, they can return to other tasks. In contrast, a typical BOPIS in retail service involves a staff member at each end of the transaction.
Retailers also save on last mile shipping costs. Using a smart locker system to offer a buy online, pick-up in locker (BOPIL) service allows retailers to leverage the stock of their store and the logistics network that supports it to fulfill an order. Shipping cost savings are maximized, while at the same time the consumer benefits by having access to order fulfillment that is faster than most expedited shipping services. Read more about BOPIS vs BOPIL services in our related blog post.
Of course, offering in-store pickup options of all types is beneficial to retail stores. Consumer demand for pickup services is clearly there, as demonstrated by the nearly 20% increase in-store pickup for shopping during the 2018 holiday season. Consider the importance of in-store pickup services for the online retailer Best Buy, for which store pickup accounts for the shipping option of 40% of its online sales. Many shoppers at Best Buy and elsewhere like the value and convenience that online shopping offers, but if given a choice, will choose to pick up their product in a store.
Customers who choose in-store pickup also do so out of security concerns for their purchase. Package thefts are becoming increasingly commonplace, even as a greater proportion of our shopping is done online. Retailers are beginning to use smart lockers to provide a secure portal through which their customers can retrieve their orders while they continue to benefit from faster order fulfillment.
One advantage of smart lockers is that they streamline the order pickup process. Locker systems aren’t intended to replace BOPIS services or delivery but are instead used to create an easy and efficient pickup process. This ease and efficiency extend to both staff and customers. Staff can quickly enter orders into the system without having to go through the extra step of notifying the customer. In the same vein, the staff member won’t have to be involved in the final order handoff to the customer.
The use of smart lockers in retail environments, including grocery retail, offers significant advantages for both consumers and retailers. Customers appreciate smart lockers because the entire process is automated from end-to-end; they can click and collect. The customer doesn’t have to interact with a staff member or wait in line to retrieve their order for package pickup. This allows a customer to quickly stop into a retail location to retrieve their package at a time when it’s convenient for them, creating greater customer satisfaction overall.
For retailers, the best part about a smart locker system is the data they provide. A smart locker system provides real-time analytics of the final stage of your order fulfillment. This gives retailers access to data on a scale that simply can’t be matched by standard BOPIS services. At the same time, intelligent locker systems integrate easily with existing software and applications, ensuring that retailers can quickly and easily augment their in-store pickup with smart locker capabilities.
Lastly, smart lockers are an effective way to improve convenience for customers. Customers have shown that they have a strong desire for in-store pickup options, and smart lockers allow retailers to offer this service while improving the efficiency of their in-store pickup options.