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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all aspects of our lives. From the way we work and educate our children, to how we interact with people and businesses.

We’ve also witnessed the quick adaptation of the retail industry under Stay-at-Home orders, expanding their buy online pickup in store (BOIPS) fulfillment options to include Curbside pickup. And now that quarantine orders are beginning to ease up across the country, it’s time for retail businesses to prepare for the next ‘new normal’ phase.

As Retailers manage through regulated capacity limits for their physical locations, extending capacity via new BOPIS fulfillment options will be a key to providing a great customer experience. For instance, by utilizing automated retail lockers for BOPIS orders, retailers can provide consumers a contactless pick-up option.

Let’s Start by 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.

Retailers today are using automated lockers that are equipped with smart technology and are easily integrated into their existing systems. The technology allows the retailer to monitor the system through a variety of reports, and the consumer to access their compartment with a bar code, making it more efficient for both.

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 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 line, 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 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 stores.

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 store hours. This immediately had an effect on the customer and especially appealed to the nature of the self-serve Gen-Z shoppers

What Does the Automated Retail Locker Process Look Like?

So, what does the BOPIS locker order fulfillment process look like? It’s a simple one that’s convenient for both customers and store associates:

  1. A customer places an order online at the retailer’s e-commerce website.
  2. If the retailer fulfills the order from store inventory, a designated store associate is notified of the order and collects the item(s), placing them inside of an automated retail locker compartment for the customer.
  3. The customer is automatically notified by email and/or text that their order is ready for pick up and they’re given a unique bar code.
  4. The customer arrives to pick up their items from the automated retail locker using their bar code.

This click and collect method makes order fulfillment simple for retailers and convenient for shoppers. Roughly 37% of customers choose to use BOPIS because it allows them to get their items faster.

However, ease and convenience aren’t the only benefits to using retail lockers to fulfill BOPIS orders.

Why Automated Retail Lockers Are Needed Now More than Ever Before

There’s another more pressing concern that BOPIS and automated retail lockers can address: How to provide a contactless pickup in the era of COVID-19.

During this pandemic, automated retail lockers can easily support social distancing and store capacity restrictions, while providing a means of delivery even during reduced store hours. This helps ensure customers can retrieve their essential items and reduce exposure for them and the store associates.

Businesses that can adapt during this trying time will more likely win consumers hearts, and ultimately wallets, by providing shoppers with safe alternatives to retrieve their everyday essentials.

Automated Retail Lockers Can Do More than Order Fulfillment

But the value of automated lockers for retailers go 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.

To read more on how you can future-proof your business to face the current new normal, as well as shifting consumer purchasing trends by using it for more than just order fulfillment, check out this blog for other use cases of automated retail lockers.

Interested in exploring how automated retail lockers can transform your BOPIS/curbside order fulfillment process? Let Package Concierge guide you through the process of selecting the best automated retail locker system for your specific needs. Click here to learn more today!

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