As Omnichannel retailers continue to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace, many are looking to improve their buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) order fulfillment methods.
Escalated by the pandemic, BOPIS and Curbside Pickup both gained enormous strength from consumers looking for contactless solutions. Retailers have managed this increase by extending capacity via new BOPIS Fulfillment options, like automated retail lockers, as a key to providing a great customer experience and improving their BOPIS fulfillment efficiency.
Those that have integrated automated solutions like retail lockers early on are finding they are able to extend their normal store hours, improve their overall ROI, and increase customer satisfaction simply by adding this secure BOPIS fulfillment method.
Defining Automated Retail Lockers
Automated Retail Lockers allow shoppers, at their convenience, to pick up their online orders from a secure location, instead of paying for shipping and waiting days for the order to be shipped to their home.
These lockers aren’t the typical old-school parcel lockers found at transportation centers that require the user to have a key. At their core, these smart lockers provide secure storage for orders which the consumer retrieves using a provided bar code from their smart phone.
These self-serve automated lockers are equipped with smart technology and are easily integrated into existing retailer ecosystems. The technology allows the retailer to monitor the locker system through an online portal which provides real-time system health, a variety of reports, and images/video of each interaction with the smart locker.
To install a bank of smart retail lockers, the location simply needs to be prepped with a level floor and have access to electrical and internet connections.
BOPIS Orders and Automated Retail Lockers
A BOPIS order (some say BOPUS) isn’t a new concept. In fact, you’ve likely done it more than a few times yourself. The birth of BOPIS, or click and collect, came from retailers who were overwhelmed with managing both in-store customers and pickup orders simultaneously and were looking for ways to take advantage of this increased business while improving both efficiency and customer satisfaction.
As BOPIS order volume increased, the process was problematic for store operations and store associates as the fulfillment process is time and touch intensive. It’s not so great for customers either who would have to wait at a service desk, often in long lines, for the associate to look up and confirm their order and identity, and then search for the collected order in a mass of other collected orders.
The solution to speed up this process, take up a smaller footprint within the retail location, and reduce headaches for both the store associate and customer, became the adoption of alternate fulfillment methods like automated retail locker systems often placed outside of brick-and-mortar store locations.
This allowed the customer to ensure their item was in stock prior to arriving at the store so it would be available right away for pick up at their convenience – without having to wait in line or even visit during regular store hours. This BOPIS fulfillment method immediately influenced customers and especially appealed to the nature of the self-serve GenZ shoppers.
It also had an immediate impact on store associates who now had a way to easily and securely organize and track BOPIS orders, allowing employees to pivot to other value-added business and customer needs.
What Does the Automated Retail Locker Process Look Like?
So, what does the BOPIS order fulfillment process look like using automated retail lockers? It’s a simple one that’s convenient for both customers and store associates alike – taking mere seconds to drop off and pick up an order:
- A customer places an order online at the retailer’s e-commerce website.
- If the retailer fulfills the order from store inventory, a designated store associate is notified of the order and collects the ordered item(s), placing the completed order inside of an automated retail locker compartment for the customer.
- The customer is automatically notified by email and/or text that their order is ready for pick up at the automated retail locker location and are given a unique bar code.
- The customer arrives to pick up their items from the automated retail locker by scanning their provided bar code.
This click and collect method makes order fulfillment simple for retailers and convenient for shoppers. The use of secure automated retail lockers streamlines BOPIS order fulfillment while also providing a full chain of custody for each order. By automating the process, it reduces the chance of a lost or stolen order, provides on-time deliveries in a time of worker shortages, and is a secure, contactless way to transfer goods 24/7 when the locker is installed outside.
However, security, ease, and convenience aren’t the only benefits to using retail lockers for BOPIS order fulfillment.
Automated Retail Lockers Can Do More than Order Fulfillment
The value of automated lockers for retailers goes beyond BOPIS, offering a range of alternative uses that enhance retailers’ in-store marketing and operations. These automated retail lockers can benefit both retailers and consumers by:
- Enhancing retailers’ ability to make store-to-store merchandise transfers efficiently;
- Allowing ship-to-store orders to be fulfilled, which ultimately draws more shoppers to a brick-and-mortar location; and
- Functioning in a specific market and providing its eCommerce customers an easy option for reducing shipping costs, picking up orders and returning merchandise.
As a fixture within the retail environment, a bank of installed retail lockers can also serve as a brand billboard for the retail customer, highlighting not only the convenient BOPIS fulfillment method, but certain brand attributes and images as well. When placed outside the retail location, the automated retail locker installation can serve as a beacon to the entrance, or additional branded signage in the parking lot.
Interested in exploring how automated retail lockers can transform your BOPIS/curbside order fulfillment process? Let Package Concierge® help guide you through the process of selecting the best automated retail locker system for your specific needs. Click here to learn how you can further bridge the gap in your order fulfillment process by introducing automated retail lockers!