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 Smart Lockers in the US: increase in demand in 2021

Smart Lockers in the US: increase in demand in 2021

George Jones

Business Developer @ Bloq.it

Home Depot to instal in-store Smart Lockers for their customers

Smart Lockers in the US have been on the rise.

The United States has seen an increase in demand for more innovative last-mile delivery options over the past years.

The growth of e-commerce in the USA has gotten businesses to think outside the box and Smart Lockers has been a solution for this growing market of contactless delivery options.

Consumers are not always at home or at work to accept packages. With the recent pandemic fresh in our minds, many seek contactless alternatives. Parcel pick-up locations in the US are growing in number and can be found in all walks of life including shopping centers, petrol stations, transport hubs, and large retail stores.

A driver can deliver multiple parcels to a secure location where recipients can collect their parcels at a time that suits them!

Smart Lockers in the US are at an all-time high
Similar to countries in Europe, Smart Lockers in the US are at an all-time high

Pick-up facilities:

  • Lessen the burdens of door-to-door delivery.
  • Eliminate porch thefts.
  • Save fuel and maintenance expenses.
  • Reduce Carbon Emissions

Pick-up facilities in the US usually come from companies such as FedEx, Amazon, UPS, DHL, and USPS. Together, they offer over 70,000 access points — ranging from drop boxes, carrier shipping centers, and all the way to third-party retail stores.

But now, in 2021 specifically, Smart Lockers in the US are offering a new solution that answers a lot of the industry-wide pain points

So, what are Smart Lockers again?

Smart lockers are similar to the traditional mailbox but with digital access, security cameras, and cloud-based software.

End users choosing to shop online select lockers as the delivery method during the checkout and then receive access instructions, usually a QR or SMS code, to open the locker electronically.

The Lockers can also be accessed by delivery companies, through a specific authentication that allows them to drop-off parcels.

The system will automatically know and recognize the correct recipient and communicate directly with him, sending him a code to open the locker.

On the back of the picture, the lockers are communicating with multiple parties involved: the locker administrator, the logistics / delivery company, the e-commerce platform and the final user.

All this constant communication and flow of information requires a complex back-end, which is often not given enough importance to.

Parcel pick-up points vs Smart Lockers in the US.

Smart Lockers also have multiple added benefits when compared to traditional pick-up points:

  • Can be placed anywhere, making it easier to choose heavy traffic areas where they can be accessed by more users
  • Available 24/7
  • No need of staff in order to be used, totally autonomous
  • Fast to retrieve, with 10 seconds or less on average for customers to collect parcels
  • Safer, since the final customer is the only one who can access the locker where the item was deposited.

Thus it’s no surprise that the growth of Parcel pick-up points is being outpaced by the growth of Smart Lockers in the US.

Having stated all these benefits, we do believe the best model is an hybrid, where consumers would be able to have easy access to both traditional Parcel Pick-up points and Smart Lockers in the US.

Global Rollout

The use of Smart Lockers is not yet mainstream in most countries, and if asked, most people probably would not have yet used Smart Lockers in the US.

Nevertheless, there are great study-cases in multiple countries around the globe.

Singapore, at just 281 square miles, will have 1,000 smart locker stations by the end of 2021.

China has over 800,000 Smart Lockers, more than the rest of the world combined!

Across Europe, retailers have partnered with logistics firms for delivery to lockers. In Europe, there are now almost 40,000. Poland has the most – more than 15,000. Since June, this number has increased by an astounding 100%. Our experience shows that customers are now more and more demanding in terms of deliveries.

These numbers are growing, and our internal prediction is that we will witness the placement of more than 150 000 Smart Lockers in Europe, and 120 000 Smart Lockers in the US, for the logistics / e-commerce segment alone.

Not only that, there’s a huge and increasing interest from National Post companies to create their own large Smart Lockers networks in their countries.

This makes us confident, that the Smart Lockers will keep being adopted across borders, and that soon it will be also much more frequent to find Smart Lockers in the US.

Smart Lockers in the US 

The total number of Smart Lockers in the US is hard to predict. Although, with the likes of players such as Amazon & other logistic players, we believe it to be between 10 000 and 15 000.

Most Smart Lockers in the US, are still on closed networks. And there’s a lack of an agnostic solution, that can be used by any delivery company.

Besides the logistic and delivery segment, we believe there’s still tremendous potential on the adoption of Smart Lockers in the US by retailers, to upgrade their Click and Collect systems.

In the US click and collect sales or ‘Kerbside’ pick up saw an increase of 106.9% in comparison to the same period in 2019. ‘Kerbside’ collection seems to bridge the gap between the isolation of e-commerce and the inconvenience of traditional in-person retail by providing both immediacy and familiarity with relative ease and safety. 

Minneapolis-based Target began testing the current iteration of its DriveUp service back in 2017. But since the beginning of the pandemic, its popularity has exploded, seeing in excess of a 1000% increase in comparison to the same period in 2019. 

no smart lockers in the US
Minneapolis-based Target began testing the current iteration of its DriveUp service back in 2017

Furthermore, Target is reporting an increase in customer loyalty, satisfaction, and most importantly spending. With 35% of customers purchasing additional items when they pick up from outside the store. 

“Consumers enjoy their flexibility, and they enjoy being able to define how they’re serviced and how they receive goods,” says Greg Portell, lead partner in the global consumer practice of Kearney, a strategy and management consulting firm.

“In some cases that are going to be shipped to my home. In some cases, it’s going to be, ‘I wanted to go explore in the store’. And in other cases, it’s going to be, ‘I just need to fly by and pick it up. … It creates another reason for a consumer to prefer one retailer over the other.”

With the proliferation and growth of Smart Lockers in the US, it is likely that players such as Target start looking into these solutions as ways to increase customer satisfaction, while decreasing operational costs on their Click and Collect operations.

A successful implementation of Smart Lockers in the US

For American companies, the decision of placing Smart Lockers might just be the first step.

A Smart Locker by itself is often not enough, project managers 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 in the US 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.

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, and it’s no wonder since on average, our users take less than 10 seconds to retrieve their items;

Our team of industry experts will also provide in-depth know-how and assistance on all the key parts of implementing this smart lockers in the US.

bloqit smart lockers in the us
A personalized Bloq.it Smart Locker placed in residential building

To sum it up

As smart lockers increasingly become the last mile delivery option of choice it only makes sense for American companies to follow the trend, and increase the offer of Smart Lockers in the US.

Below are the key improvements that will be achieved by increasing the adoption of Smart Lockers in the US:

  • More people will be able to participate in e-commerce;
  • Logistics will become more efficient and cheaper in urban areas;
  • Parcel porch theft will heavily decrease;
  • Less CO2 emissions as a result of less travels by delivery trucks;
  • Less city traffic as a result of less travels by delivery trucks;

If you would like to implement Smart Lockers in the US, or simply know more about this solution, feel free to reach out below.

If you want to find out more about our solutions and some of the problems our team of experts is solving for our clients of Smart Lockers in the US on a daily basis drop me an email at George.jones@bloq.it or connect with me on Linkedin

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