The use of Buy Online Pick-up In Store (BOPIS), otherwise known as click and collect, has been growing significantly during the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shoppers, concerned about their health, are preferring not to hang around in stores for longer than they need to.
But BOPIS was a trend that was growing even before COVID, and brands and retailers believe it’s here to stay even when the pandemic is behind us. According to a survey by Zebra, 86 percent of retailers “agree BOPIS will become the default delivery method.”
So what’s in it for logistics firms?
It’s easy to understand how BOPIS benefits retailers. Processing and fulfilling orders through a click and collect counter or an automated on-premise locker system provides them with a cheaper option than traditional shopping methods. It also eliminates delivery costs.
It’s also clear how BOPIS benefits the customers. Their chosen items can be purchased from the comfort of home and then collected without the same wait or cost they would experience with delivery.
But, cut out the middleman and surely the logistics firms will be missing out? In one sense, that’s true. With BOPIS, logistics firms aren’t making all those labour-intensive and costly deliveries from house-to-house, but it would be wrong to overlook the exciting new opportunity that’s opening up for logistics firms with the introduction of automated lockers.
The new way forward
Retail delivery can be a thankless task with all the associated cost and wasted expense. With up to 53% of the total delivery cost spent on the notorious last mile, you can understand the appeal of automated lockers for logistics companies.
31% of shoppers expected to miss at least one delivery in 2020 that would require redelivery attempts or depot collection. Even worse, a worrying 20% have experienced lost or stolen parcels in the last 12 months.
If a courier can deposit parcels for 20 different customers in a centralised automated locker location, they will have saved the time and money spent on 19 delivery trips. Automated lockers have emerged as the effective and long-term solution to the last-mile delivery challenges. Better still, they can increase the efficiency and improve the customer experience for logistics companies.
So how do automated lockers work?
An automated locker solution allows couriers to deposit packages directly into the compartments. The compartments can be designed in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations to suit all the different packages that are likely to be handled.
For as long as the current pandemic lasts, collection times can be individually set to support social distancing and reduce crowd-forming queues. You can even include a quarantine period for the package so that it remains in the locker for a specified period to further reduce the risk of infection. The lockers are easily wiped down with anti-bacterial and anti-viral cleaners. All this not only helps businesses prioritise the health and safety of their customers but also their delivery people.
To enable them to collect their order, shoppers are sent an email or SMS with a pick-up time and a QR code, barcode or randomised entry code. Screens can be programmed with messages to remind shoppers about social distancing and the use of QR or barcodes ensure that the recipient doesn’t even have to touch the screen. They simply present their smartphone to the reader and their locker door will open automatically.
No turning back
Among retailers who are not yet using lockers, 66% said they appreciate how lockers improve the customer experience.
In terms of BOPIS, automated lockers require the least labour and provide the most flexibility for all parties involved. For those who use lockers, there’s no turning back. Half of them plan to significantly increase the use of their existing lockers and a third are likely to add more lockers within 18 months.
Automated lockers are the answer the key concerns currently faced by logistics companies as they look to streamline cost. Most logistic companies are well aware of this, which explains why you may well have already encountered, or even used, one of the Amazon and DHL Lockers.
While re-shaping the marketplace in ways that are only just beginning to emerge, these new technologies are enabling greater efficiency and more collaborative operating models,
Collaborative? Considering the space and cost limitations, we don’t believe it makes sense for many logistics companies to have their own automated locker solutions, particularly the smaller players.
But what would make perfect sense is a group of logistics firms working together with a shared centralised locker location that would soon become well-known in the local area. A place away from the hustle and the bustle of the high street, where parking is plentiful and parcel pick-ups can be effortless.
That sounds like a very workable idea. It also sounds like the future.
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.