Smart lockers offer employees and customers a reliable way to deliver, accept, and return a wide variety of items. The automated, self-serve technology behind these lockers prioritizes user safety while flawlessly securing the movement of goods from one location to another.
Let’s take a look at how this contactless solution improves safety, security, and efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Smart lockers expedite the transfer of items from warehouses to keep stores safely stocked. Here are some of the benefits for delivery personnel:
As each shipment arrives, employees at the retail site receive notifications. They can then move the items along to store shelves or keep them secured inside the lockers. In this way, smart lockers help retail stores transition into transportation hubs and keep more of their inventory close.
With oversized and refrigerated compartments available, smart lockers are especially useful for items you wouldn’t want to leave sitting around on a warehouse shelf or in the back of a retail store, such as:
The last stage of the journey often involves handing off products to the customer, but doing so while maintaining a safe physical distance can be a challenge. That’s why buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) has rapidly gained popularity this year. It’s a contactless way for stores to keep their doors open and continue transferring inventory to customers.
And smart lockers give BOPIS a boost. Instead of picking up items at a customer service desk or using curbside pickup, customers can retrieve their orders all on their own. They don’t have to interact with a cashier, delivery driver, or other staff members — they don’t even have to touch a kiosk. So they feel safer shopping under restricted circumstances.
How does this benefit retailers?
BOPIS is particularly useful for high-value and perishable items that customers don’t want to risk delivering to the homes. But in many cases, delivery to a residence or business is still the most convenient option. However, since the growth rate of e-commerce is not showing any signs of slowing down, this method is becoming increasingly burdensome for logistics companies and package management staff.
A centralized smart locker system provides a single dropoff location for multiple deliveries, so drivers and property staff don’t have to go door-to-door to complete the chain of custody. This results in fewer stops and reduced delivery times. For example, a pilot test at a 62-floor building found that a common carrier locker system decreased delivery times by 78% and completely eliminated delivery failures.
Smart lockers offer several benefits for customers, too:
As e-commerce sales rise, returns are bound to increase, too. And customers will be looking for a safe, easy way to send orders back to the store or warehouse.
Whether through a hub location or retail store, smart lockers can facilitate the return process for unwanted, flawed, or faulty products:
By returning their orders through smart lockers, customers don’t have to make trips to the post office or interact with staff members at a customer service desk.
Unwanted, damaged, and defective products often need to go back to the warehouse for repair and resale. And smart lockers easily support that transition.
Retailers can use smart lockers to secure returned items and keep them separate until a driver is available to bring them to a warehouse location. It takes just seconds for a customer or retail employee to place the products into a locker and go about their day.
Just like dropoffs, picking up returns is quick and contactless. The automated system keeps drivers informed of when items are ready for pickup. And they can save time by retrieving those returns during their scheduled store delivery trips.
In all these supply chain stages, the automated system tracks every transaction, providing administrators with detailed digital reports in real-time.