How automated lockers will change the face of online retail in 2021

1 Mar 2021

The world of retail is changing, but you don’t need to tell that to today’s tech-savvy shoppers who are already well ahead of the game. The lines between traditional bricks-and-mortar and online are rapidly becoming more and more blurred, and omnichannel is already a concept that is well understood.

COVID-19 has inevitably had a major impact on the way we all shop and Buy Online Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS), or click and collect as it is otherwise known, has grown in popularity with the need for social distancing. If you haven’t discovered it yet, with BOPIS the shopper chooses products from the comfort of their own home and can usually pick up their goods without going into the heart of the store, while also avoiding the wait and cost of delivery. 

Automated lockers are the way forward

Adding to the convenience of BOPIS, we now have automated lockers. This innovation will enable businesses to meet the higher parcel delivery, collection and return volumes even when the pandemic is behind us.

Automated lockers also overcome one of the biggest hurdles of online shopping which is that 31% of shoppers expect to miss at least one delivery that will require redelivery attempts or depot collection, this year. They enable customers to both pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) their packages in a time and cost-efficient way.

Everyone wins 

These lockers are good news for the retailer too as they create a streamlined process that is engaging for customers, saves time and cuts costs. Better still, parcel lockers drive additional in-store purchases and increase footfall as customers often stay to browse when coming to retrieve their parcels.

Automated lockers are an effective tool for managing BOPIS—they are low-maintenance once installed and easy to use for shop assistants and customers alike. They are also a great solution 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 can all benefit from automated lockers.

From the e-commerce companies’ point of view, automated lockers can help them make savings on fuel and transportation costs and also enable them to increase the number of deliveries they can make in the same day.

Growth predicted in 2021

To give us an idea how much of an impact automated lockers look set to have in 2021, there was some recent research designed to gauge the opinions of retailers, many of whom have already started to use this solution.

The results were revealing. 83 percent of retailers currently using automated lockers report improved efficiency. 33 percent of users are so convinced of the value of lockers that they plan to install more of them within the next 18 months. Even retailers who aren’t using this solution yet appreciate the value with 66 percent acknowledging. that automated lockers enhance the customer experience.

Cutting down on delivery journeys

As sustainability becomes a business priority and not just a nice-to-have, automated lockers tick the ‘green’ box too as they are guaranteed to cut down on the number of delivery journeys. The last mile of delivery is not just costly in terms of finance, but also in terms of pollution with delivery vans criss-crossing our neighbourhoods day-in day-out.

Automated lockers can help online shopping become more sustainable simply by being a delivery option that leads to substantial carbon emission cuts. 

More new possibilities 

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.

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. A busy customer, for example could drop off a suit that needs to be dry cleaned in the locker on the way to work and then pick it up on their way home.

Another use for automated lockers which is increasing in popularity is within the foyer areas of large residential blocks, big office buildings and university halls of residence. Here, delivery and pick up becomes convenient and secure.

Here to stay

Just like BOPIS, automated lockers are here to stay even when COVID and the need for social distancing are behind us. With their adoption rapidly picking up pace, it seems likely that 2021 could well be the year that automated lockers come of age in mainstream retail.

Find out more about automated lockers

Meridian Digital Solutions have over 25 years of experience working globally with some of the world’s biggest brands to deliver automated kiosk and locker solutions, both in and out of store. 

We can offer you totally bespoke products and software solutions to meet the needs of your logistics business, along with the consultancy and pre-sales expertise to ensure your solution delivers an amazing customer experience, fit for 2021. If you’d like to know more about automated lockers, please just get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help.

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