Lockers provide a convenient way for consumers to pick up online orders in stores, without waiting in line at a customer service desk. But it’s just one of the growing number of use cases emerging for automated lockers in retail locations.

Georgianna W. Oliver, founder, Package Concierge

Georgianna W. Oliver, founder, Package Concierge

Today’s discerning consumers distinguish less and less between the digital and physical stores, hence the ubiquitous term omnichannel. Traditional brick-and-mortar locations must continue to evolve, accommodating tech-savvy consumers by providing the conveniences they demand, and must help facilitate in-store experiences for engagement. All indications are buy online, pick up in store, or BOPIS, is an answer.

The Kibo 2018 Consumer Trends Study shows nearly 80 percent of shoppers have picked up web orders in a store, and half are willing to remain loyal to brands who offer it. So part of the retail revolution must include accommodating BOPIS. For many retailers, this will include investing in locker solutions that help deliver on fulfillment.

Lockers are an effective tool for managing BOPIS—they are low-maintenance once installed and easy to use for store associates and all customer demographics. However, lockers may not be the answer for all retailers. For example, retailers with oversized merchandise like furniture, or poor inventory visibility, could struggle with lockers and should consider alternate solutions to manage BOPIS fulfillment.

The 24/7 nature of automated lockers allow customers to drop off or pick up items for repair at their convenience.

Additionally, to make the locker ROI viable, the retailer must have reasonable BOPIS order volume utilizing the locker. If the retailer’s BOPIS hasn’t matured and order volume is currently low, in the short-term other solutions might be a better fit.

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Alternatively, automated locker systems are great for overwhelmed customer service desks, retailers who can’t keep up with the growing BOPIS customer demands and stores looking to offer the convenience of 24/7 pick-up for customers.

Retailers who do invest in a locker system need to ensure they are protecting their investment in a dynamic marketplace. That means balancing how they deliver a cohesive and modern shopping experience while also driving revenue in new ways.

Next-level locker usebeyond BOPIS

A large part of the BOPIS strategy is ensuring order fulfillment is a seamless overall experience—enter automated locker systems. So, how do retailers balance that investment and ensure it stands the test of time? Utilize automated lockers to do more jobs and solve more problems!  Package Concierge has developed our top ten list of alternate use cases for automated locker systems in order to help retailers maximize their investment in today’s environment:

1. BOPIS: Use-case #1 for lockers has always been buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), a business imperative for today’s omnichannel retailers. Streamlining the customer pick-up process with automated lockers has been proven to increase satisfaction and often leads to additional in-store purchases while the customer is picking up their order.

2. BORIS: The recently released Appris Retail 2018 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry report shows buy online, return in store (BORIS) grew 38% year over year. Offering a frictionless return mechanism is just as important as a smooth pick-up process for customer satisfaction. Considering that on average 12.9 percent of all purchases are returned, automated lockers can play an important role in streamlining this, often cumbersome, process.

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3. Store-to-store: The use of automated lockers for store-to-store transfers can speed up the process. This relieves pressure from the service desk and allows employees to provide more value-added customer activities while still providing a record of when the transfer took place.

4. Courier Pickup/Delivery: Orders for entire routes can easily be placed in an automated locker for each of the designated couriers (private delivery agents) to retrieve. Utilization of an outdoor locker further enhances the speed with which couriers can retrieve and then deliver items to customers.

5. Repair Drop-off/Pick-up: The 24/7 nature of automated lockers allow customers to drop off or pick up items for repair at their convenience; which is typically outside normal business hours. For example, a customer can drop off their shoes for repair in the locker on their way to work and pick them back up on their way home.

6. Device Management: As stores are becoming increasingly more digital, it means more devices for employee to use and employers to manage. Automated lockers can be utilized for employee device check-out, keeping a record and a still photo from all transactions, increasing device management security.

7. B2B: Similar to Store-to-Store transfers that are within the retailer’s own network, B2B transfers facilitate the exchanges of goods between businesses by improving efficiency for both users. For instance, an automotive parts supplier that needs to send parts throughout the day to various repair stations could have the orders available for those stations, or a courier, to pick-up from an automated locker system.

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8. Ship to Store: BOPIS is the gold standard for customer orders by fulfilling directly from store inventory; but when that’s not available, shipping from the distribution center to the store is the next best thing. Automated lockers can accommodate individual customer orders or batched orders that are broken down at the store. Lockers can also accommodate ship-to-store orders received via a closed distribution network or common carrier deliveries.

9. Reserve and Collect: There are often times when a customer wants to ensure an item is available at the store before they arrive, which allows the customer the opportunity to inspect it before purchasing the item. This is especially common in the clothing industry where a customer has a specific color and size of garment reserved so they know it is available to try on when they arrive.

10. Buy Online Pickup Local (BOPUL) a.k.a. Pickup Dropoff (PUDO) a.k.a. Open Access Ship Point: Whatever you call it, it’s an increasingly popular use-case. Retailers install an open-access ship point locker system at their location that consumers can then use to ship to from any retailer/brand, listing the locker as their ship-to address. For the consumer it offers both convenience and security. Imagine having vacation supplies shipped to a locker location at your vacation destination. For the retailer it drives foot traffic to your store. Win/win.

While it is imperative for retailers to continue to innovate to keep up with the evolving demands of consumers, it is also critical that they look ahead to ensure they are future-proofing their investments. The myriad of use-cases an automated locker system can support proves its power and promise extends far beyond BOPIS.

Package Concierge provides self-service locker systems for retail locations, universities, office buildings and residential buildings.

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