Smart lockers are automated systems that allow for secure storage and pick up. This can mean someone safely storing their phone while it charges, or being able to pick up the keys to your rental car after hours; smart lockers serve many different purposes across lots of different industries.
The basics are the same as with traditional lockers but without the limitation of having a physical key. This allows businesses to securely place items in the locker, and remotely allow access to the correct customers through a QR code.
How Does a Smart Locker Work?
One of the great things about smart lockers is that you’re in control of how they work. They can be managed remotely, and set up to best serve your business’s needs.
However you set up your smart lockers though, the principle remains the same:
- A customer orders something and they receive a code of some kind (invoice number, QR code, pick up code)
- The business picks the order and places the item in the locker
- The customer arrives at the locker and inputs their unique code
- The locker that corresponds with the order number opens and the customer collects their product.
- If the product needs to be returned, then the customer puts their order number in, and an empty locker opens ready to take back the product.
The customisability of smart lockers means this process can be adapted for any company that sells a physical product, offering tangible benefits to both the business and the customer.
What Industries Can Benefit from Smart Lockers?
Grocery/ Home Shopping
During the Coronavirus lockdown, we’ve all been encouraged to make use of online delivery and click and collect services. When you can find a slot to make use of these services, they work well, but smart lockers can help fine-tune the process.
Click and collect still requires people to be there to hand over your order, and this limits the number of people that can collect at one time.
With a smart locker though, you can place the food in the lockers, and allow people to collect simply by scanning their QR code. There’s even the option to have refrigerated lockers, meaning cold items are kept cool right up until the customer collects them.
This reduces the wait time for the customer because they don’t have to wait while someone fetches their food, and helps the business expand their capacity to fulfil orders.
Tradesmen are constantly picking up parts they need for the job and this can cut into their working day. Smart lockers allow you to streamline the customer journey, meaning your customers can get back to the job more quickly.
Say one of your customers has an early plumbing job the next day and is missing a part.
As soon as they order online, you can put the part in your automated locker, and your customer can pick it up at any time of the day or night whether you’re open or not.
Rather than going to a store near where the job is and waiting for them to open, your customer continues to buy from you because they know you offer convenience.
Tourism and Hospitality
These are two industries that have suffered terribly because of Coronavirus, but they will open up eventually, even if they’re forced to operate a little differently.
Self-service lockers present a good opportunity for businesses to change the way they operate, and get back to profitability, just like in the following examples.
- Smart lockers allow for convenient storage of luggage without human intervention. This means hotels can offer secure luggage storage without taking staff away from other important jobs.
- Restaurants can easily switch to self-service by placing food in hot and cold lockers. When the food is ready, it’s placed into the correct locker, and the customer receives a notification that their food is ready. This reduces the need for waiters and helps to limit the amount of human contact.
Smart lockers are popular in a medical setting, where security and ease of use put contrasting strains on processes.
Pharmacy dispensaries need to ensure that people are getting the right drugs, but doctors and patients need easy access to those prescriptions. A smart locker offers the perfect balance of both.
Scripts can be processed as normal by a pharmacist, but instead of doctors and patients having to wait in line to pick up the prescription, they can access it from a secure locker with a computer-generated code
This ensures efficiency without compromising on security.
People are ordering more and more things online, and that means more and more packages being sent every day. We all want convenience when we have something delivered to us, which generally means picking it up on our doorsteps. When high-value items are involved and people aren’t at home, this isn’t always possible though.
People don’t want high-value deliveries being left at their door, but at the same time, they don’t want to have to wait in line at a store to pick it up. Smart lockers provide a perfect answer which balances security with convenience.
Undelivered packages can be placed into smart lockers and a notification sent to the recipients allowing them to access the lockers at any time.
So often when you rent a car, it’s right after you’ve got off a long flight and you just want to get to where you’re going. The last thing you want to see is the inevitable long line that awaits you as you pick up the keys.
Smart lockers can make a massive difference to this process by allowing customers to sign important documents and securely access their key without having to talk to a customer service representative.
This can be done in a matter of seconds, meaning people get on with their journey quicker, and have a more enjoyable experience.
What are the Benefits of Smart Lockers?
Improved Customer Satisfaction
There will always be people who want to deal face to face with a human, but there are also lots of people who value convenience and speed of service over everything else.
Smart lockers allow you to please both sets of customers.
For those customers who crave convenience, an automated locker allows people secure access to their products, simply by scanning a QR. This frees up your customer service representatives to deal with those customers who still want human interaction.
It means lines of people waiting to pick up their products can become a thing of the past, and your customers are going to walk away satisfied, with even greater brand loyalty.
Better Use of Resources
Having an automated locker to take care of tasks such as delivering spare parts frees your staff up to take care of the aspects that require a human touch.
Whereas you might normally have two people taking orders and picking parts, with a smart locker, the order is taken care of electronically, meaning one person can pick the parts, and the other person can be reassigned to other tasks that help grow the business.
This has huge implications for the efficiency of your business and allows you to get more out of your employees.
Return on Investment
We like to say that machines don’t ask for anything in return for their hard work (except for a little bit of electricity.)
Your smart locker is there working for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and although they require an upfront investment, they quickly earn that money back.
We’ve put together a helpful ROI calculator to demonstrate exactly how much a self-service locker could save you over time, and the numbers are impressive.
It’s no use investing money in “cool” technology if it doesn’t return on your investment, but smart lockers start to do this from day one.
Are Smart Lockers Still Safe with COVID-19
People are naturally asking questions about the safety of self-service kiosks during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Meridian offers lots of solutions that make smart lockers a safe option for businesses in these times.
The big advantage with smart lockers is that there’s no human contact needed, meaning two of the most common forms of transmission - respiratory and aerosol are not a factor.
This leaves surface transmission, which is possible, given people will be touching the screens and lockers, however, there are a number of technologies that make the risks negligible:
- Facial recognition technology means customers don’t have to touch a screen.
- Auto pop lockers mean the door is wide open once the customer’s code is accepted, limiting contact.
- UVC integrations have proven to be extremely effective at killing the Coronavirus.
- Antimicrobial coatings stop virus particles settling on screens and suppress the growth of harmful bacteria.
When you add all these measures to the social distancing rules such as wearing masks in public places, then the risks of smart lockers should be no higher than with a regular face-to-face service.
Smart lockers offer a huge amount of flexibility to modern companies and can help drive business growth.
In the current climate, where there is a lot of uncertainty around how businesses will re-open with COVID-19 still being a major factor, smart solutions such as automated lockers can play a big part.
The adaptability of smart lockers means they can work in a wide range of industries, helping to increase customer satisfaction, make better use of resources, and quickly earn a return on investment.
At Meridian, we specialise in customisable solutions that are built to fit your business needs, so get in contact to find out how smart lockers can make a difference to your company.