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 What is a Smart Locker? – Full guide

What is a Smart Locker? – Full guide

João Lopes

Founder & COO at Bloq.it

If you’re on top of the e-commerce and logistics industry, you’ve probably have heard a lot about them lately, so what is a smart locker?

It’s a growing trend, that is giving a new life to the locker industry – an industry that saw little innovation during the past few decades.

Not long ago, whenever someone talked about lockers, the first thought would be about gym or school lockers.

The vast majority of people would only use them in those scenarios. So in what way did the Locker change?

Nowadays, things are quite different – with the rise of e-commerce since the late 90’s, and the tremendous growth of parcel deliveries as a consequence, logistics companies started wondering how they could reduce the cost of last-mile deliveries.

Among many other technologies that were envisioned, the use of lockers has a deposit point for parcels was an obvious one.

And powered by our technological capabilities – the smart locker was born.

But despite what many might think, the use-cases of the smart locker go beyond being a bigger and more intelligent mailbox for parcels.

Although this use-case brought smart lockers to the spotlight, they do many more things nowadays.


To know what is a Smart Locker, we must first ask what is a Smart Locker capable of?
And in order to answer that he will answer to what is a smart locker used for today:


#1 – Parcel Delivery Smart Locker (Logistics)

To understand what is a Smart Locker, it’s key to know their most frequent use-case today: Parcel Delivery.

Like mentioned before, the use of smart lockers for parcel delivery (parcel lockers) is by far it’s most popular use case today.

There’s a clear incentive for logistic companies to use them: it saves them a lot of money – up to 53% of the total delivery cost is on the last mile.

By using smart lockers, couriers can deliver multiple packages in the same place, which means, they don’t need to deliver them door-to-door.

If a courier has 10 parcels to deposit in a smart locker, that means he saved the time and money spent on 9 different trips.

And most logistic companies are well aware of this: making it easy to realize why there’s Amazon and DHL Lockers, and why a lot of national post companies are trying to create their own smart locker networks.

There are also major net positives for final users, since they have a safe and private option to send their parcels too, knowing, that there won’t be any missed deliveries or similar issues.

Even the environment wins! Smart Lockers are a great way to make e-commerce deliveries more sustainable, by reducing the total number of trips performed by a courier, the CO2 emission associated goes down heavily!

Everybody wins when Parcel Lockers are widely adopted, truly makes you wonder what is a smart locker able to achieve more.

what is a smart locker deliveries
A Bloq.it Smart Locker being used for Parcel Delivery in the Netherlands

#2 – Click & Collect Smart Locker

Another consequence of the rise of e-commerce was that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers saw a decline in sales.

This created a need to adapt to the current landscape, most of them did so by creating their own online stores – so users could now buy trusted items from their stores, online.

But there were still at a loss with new online stores, who could sell through the same channels, but didn’t have to support high maintenance and staff costs to keep physical stores running.

Knowing this, a new concept was born: Click & Collect, and the idea is simple: users buy their items on the online platform, and then pick it up inside one of the physical stores.

This way companies can cut delivery fees while increasing their foot traffic and upsell potential.

For the user: no delivery cost, getting the item in two hours or less, and a nice trip to your favorite mall!

After realizing the time spent keeping this system running manually, managing it and always having staff ready to handle customers.

The lack of satisfaction that consumers will face if either of the previous steps fails.

A new use case for the smart locker was born: the Click & Collect Smart Locker.

Well, the point of this locker is very straightforward, when a consumer goes to the store, instead of interacting with a staff member to retrieve his item, he will have an access or QR code that when put on the smart locker will open a door, where his item is stored.

The question arises: what is Smart Locker better at versus a typical Click & Collect manual point?

It fits in the retail trend of automating processes and removing human interaction, which allows to cut costs on this operation.

Not only that, but final customers prefer this method to typical Click & Collect, in fact, over 97% of the people who have used our Smart Lockers for Click & Collect, stated they preferred this method to typical Click and Collect systems, our users take less than 10 seconds to retrieve their items!

Not only large Brick-and-mortar retailers, but also other retail niches, such as pharmacies are adopting this solution.

what is a smart locker click & collect
A click & collect Smart Locker being used by customers.

#3 – Storage Smart Locker

The most popular, widely used and original purpose of the locker: Storing valuable items securely.

Storage Lockers are used by most people: either at the gym, school or work.

The storage smart locker is the natural upgrade of the original traditional locker.

The main difference compared to traditional lockers is that most of them are autonomous and don’t require the user to have a physical lock.

They also can be monetized easily — by having the user pay for his rental time.

Such lockers can typically be found in train stations, metros, and airports. They allow people to store their items securely for a price.

Smart Lockers used for Smarter Storage can be quite beneficial, besides providing the final user with a better experience: not having to worry about keys and safety.

They also bring value to the facility owners, besides being capable of monetization, they allow to track useful user data, collect valuable logs and are make solving issues such as lost keys much easier to solve.

Bloq.it was originally born as an upgrade to the storage smart locker industry — that had been on standby for years.

With the rise of IoT technologies, connectivity, and smartphones the sky was the limit.

So we asked ourselves: What is a Smart Locker truly capable of?

The result: we envisioned a similar system to E-scooter apps, but for lockers, and thus, we created it – check the Bloq.it app.

Ever since, we realized that Smart Lockers were much more than what we initially assumed, and we’ve expanded our technology to fit any potential use-case.

what is a smart locker storage
Smart Lockers can also offer better user experiences for typical item storage


#4 – Services Smart Locker

A Smart Locker allows for items to be exchanged, without the need to meet in person.

The software and interfaces associated with the smart locker might also allow for operations like authentication, payments, billing, among others.

Knowing this, it’s easy to start seeing use-cases amongst all sorts of service-related industries.

To put it in a simple way: What is a Smart Locker for services? A Smart Locker that substitutes or optimizes the human component of a service.


Think of laundries: whenever you have to drop-off, or pick-up your clothes, you need to interact with the clerk, who usually, just stands there, waiting for the next client to pass by.

Now imagine a Smart Locker, controlled by a mobile interface (or similar) where you can open a door, select the number of pieces, drop the dirty clothes, and leave.


Once the service has been completed, you get notified again, and you pick-up your items.

The entire process fully autonomous and available 24/7.


For the laundry operator? No need to have staff on premise, and a more efficient logistic operation associated with the service.

And Laundries are just an example, there’s hundreds of similar services that can fully automated.

what is a smart locker for laudnries
Self-service laundries can greatly benefit from having a Smart Locker system

#5 – Peer-to-peer Exchange Smart Locker

Online marketplaces have grown a lot in popularity, alongside e-commerce.

Websites like eBay, Craigslist, or OLX have dominated different countries in this segment, and we’re now seeing new players such as Facebook, entering the C2C marketplace space.

It’s now a common thing to sell old items that we no longer need for a discounted price to other people – it’s a win-win for sellers and buyers.

It’s a very convenient practice… to a certain extent.

Since not all is roses, people using these platforms have long faced what seems like an unfixable problem: having to meet in person to exchange items.

And let’s face it… meeting at 3 p.m. on a weekday to get that item at 10% of its original practice might not always be worth it.

The concept is simple – users can exchange items with each other without having to meet in person.

You deposit your item, tell our app who should receive it – we notify the person, so they can pick it up. No more excuses!

This is also a great way to exchange objects while keeping social distance during lockdown periods. Since they allow for contactless exchanges.

We believe this will allow people to free up time, and allow them to have a more convenient time using 2nd-hand and similar marketplaces.

what is a smart locker bloqit
Our founder, João, portraying a Click&Collect customer

So what is a Smart Locker after all?

After exploring a list of different use-cases and verticals where Smart Lockers are applied, it is now safe to answer the question of what is a Smart Locker.

A Smart Locker, in essence, is a tool that allows for an item to be safely stored and exchanged by different parties, backed by a software component that allows that interaction to happen automatically.

We believe the amount of use-cases and verticals being disrupted by the use of Smart Lockers will keep growing, and it will be more and more frequent to see Smart Lockers around you.

A Smart Locker brings huge benefits to all the parties involved in their use.

what is a smart locker conclusion
A Bloq.it Smart Locker placed by one of our partners

A successful implementation of Smart Lockers

A Smart Locker by itself is often not enough, decision need to take into account crucial decisions such as:

  • What provider to go for
  • How does the Smart Lockers work
  • What’s the User Experience using this new service
  • How to effectively create adoption for this service amongst the final customers
  • How to implement successful workflows for the staff members
  • Where to place these Smart Lockers

And these are just some of the decisions that can differentiate a successful implementation of Smart Lockers from an unsuccessful one.

At Bloq.it, we provide a specialized solution of Smart Lockers, developed alongside industry experts, and created with the final customer in mind.

This is why we’ve created Bloq.it OS – the first smart locker operating system.

Our team of industry experts will also provide in-depth know-how and assistance on show you what is a smart locker successful implementation.

Conclusion

As you can see by now, it’s not that easy to answer to what is a Smart Locker.

Smart Lockers are a new product, that is growing extremely fast, and with no sign of slowing down.

Countries like the US, Spain and France are some examples of markets where this technology will explore in the upcoming years, others, such as Poland, China and Norway are already very developed in this regard.

Therefore it is increasingly important to be fully aware of what is a Smart Locker, when to know when is the right time to invest in this technology.

Hopefully by now, you know what is a smart locker!

If you’re interested in knowing more about this type of product, having a more detailed view over what is a Smart Locker, Bloq.it is the fastest growing smart locker company in the world. Reach out!


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