Amazon parcel pick-up lockers first arrived on the scene in 2011 at select 7-Eleven store in Seattle.
Since then, they have shown up at thousands of 7-Eleven stores nationwide and the company expanded their presence in some international markets. Also, one of the first changes Amazon made at most Whole Foods Markets was to install pick-up lockers.
Logistics companies have entered the race to install parcel lockers from DHL installing over 3,400 Packstation parcel lockers in Germany to UPS’ expanding its nationwide UPS Access Point program to include parcel lockers.
READ MORE: Four Benefits Of Parcel Lockers For Delivery
Parcel lockers are turning up everywhere from convenience stores to the London Underground, but so far they have mostly served logistics operations to provide a secure pick-up, and in some cases, shipping point.
Delivery Lockers for Food
Apex Supply Chain Technologies is changing this now with a brand new product the company introduced at the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago.
The new Flow-Thru™ Locker Solution resembles a parcel locker but is aimed at food service and restaurants that wish to provide faster pick-up solutions to their customers.
The unprecedented popularity of mobile order and pay apps and online ordering has increased the demand for in-store order pick-up.
Pymnts.com claims that mobile order and pay programs are available at about 57 percent of Quick Service Restaurant (QSQ) locations across North America since Starbucks launched the first QSR mobile order and pay app less than five years ago.
By 2020 mobile order-ahead will become a $38 billion industry at QSRs, according to a report by BI Intelligence.
This explosive growth has created an array of line-related issues that are frustrating QSRs as much as their customers. Most QSRs have not updated their operations or employee workflow to handle the spike in orders.
As a result, order pick-up service is inefficient, requiring multiple employee touches. And order ahead customers are often unsure of how to pick up their order.
This combines with dine-in customer traffic and results in congestion and line anxiety. Customers can have a negative experience and potential customers may avoid the store altogether upon noticing the line.
“Consumer technology is driving the most profound shift in customer behavior that restaurants and foodservice brands have ever seen. Our solution offers a fast, effective way to handle the additional traffic from order ahead programs in a way that doesn’t create more work for employees and eliminates customer frustrations.”
Kent Savage, Apex founder & CEO
Using the Apex Flow-Thru Locker Solution, employees have more time to assist dine-in customers since they don’t have to interact with order ahead customers.
The two-sided lockers load from the rear, ensuring workflows aren’t interrupted while providing a well-defined pick-up area for customers. An easy-to-use order bump bar and status monitor makes order processing fast and efficient.
The system also integrates with POS systems, kitchen display systems (KDS), and mobile apps making it easy for foodservice operators to integrate the system with existing infrastructure.
eCommerce Only Restaurants?
While these lockers are being marketed as complementary to existing QSRs, it is very conceivable that in not such a distant future we may see some new kind of restaurants that only are pick-up locations with kitchen operations.
Especially in high-density urban areas with high rents, eCommerce only restaurants could be a solution to offer freshly made food-to-go.
The expansion of eCommerce into industries that before were not really part of the online commerce landscape is continuing as mobile becomes the access point to much of how shoppers now purchase goods.
Why call a restaurant when one can just install a mobile app and have the entire menu available and easily order and customize food choices. The whole order is paid for by credit, debit, or a digital wallet such as PayPal and in minutes ready for pick-up or delivery.
Convenience always wins. It’s what has made eCommerce popular and continues to allow it to grow at exceptional rates.
Small business restaurants will have to embrace these technologies as shoppers become more accustomed to using them. From on-demand delivery to take-out lockers, the new dining future is here today.
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