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What is a smart locker?

Smart Lockers – 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.

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.
Here are the main use-cases of smart lockers today:


#1 – Parcel Delivery Locker

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.

What was harder to understand was why all these companies were wasting resources making their own half-baked software solutions – when they could use a standard full software solution.

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


#2 – Pick-up Locker

Also with the rise of e-commerce, 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 the adaptation didn’t stop there, facing the cost of delivery fees and the decrease of foot traffic in their stores, which decreased the upselling opportunities — a new system was born, the BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store), and it was quickly adopted across the retail landscape.

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 pick-up locker.

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.

This type of locker is quickly gaining popularity, and it fits in the retail trend of automating processes and removing human interaction.



#3 – Storage 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.

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 scooter apps appeared.

We thought envisioned a similar system, but for lockers.
And we created it – check the Bloq.it app, it’s proof 🙂


#4 – Peer-to-peer Exchange 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.

Luckily, we felt that pain too at Bloq.it – and after some thought, we realized the potential that a smart locker has to fix it, that’s why we developed our object exchange feature.

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.

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João Lopes

COO & Founder @ Bloq.it

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