The notion of "click and collect" allows customers to order product in any way they wish, then pick up the goods at the location of their choice – whether the store, their homes or a locker. It can apply to a broad variety of products, from fast food to home-improvement items.
The idea of the locker is the latest addition to the growing menu of e-commerce delivery options. It can be located outside of a store, within a retail outlet, at a railway station, in a parking lot or even within a multi-tenant apartment building. Or it can be placed at the location of a special event.
Traditional store pickup often entails waiting in long lines at a service counter. Lockers placed up front, by contrast, allow for instant access to goods by the buyer. In such instances, lockers “automate the process, and make it quick and convenient,” Savage says.
He views the locker option as an idea whose time has come. The reason, he says, is the arrival of technology that enables real-time communication with back-end systems. At the same time, consumer expectations of service are developing rapidly, to the point where ease of delivery becomes a key selling point for the retailer.
Lockers can benefit the retailer as well, in that they can draw on merchandise that’s already on hand. In effect, the store becomes a distribution center for the fulfillment of online orders. Still, “the retailer must be able to make a promise to the customer, and keep that promise,” Savage says. “That takes a holistic approach.”
At the moment, the concept of lockers is more popular in Europe. But Savage believes it will quickly migrate to the U.S. “Interest level is at an all-time high,” he says. “In the next 12 to 18 months, this explodes.”
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