We entered the 21st century already over twenty years ago. During this period, we have witnessed a tremendous acceleration in technology development. Many elements of everyday life and almost all sectors of the economy have been digitized. Changes were happening before our eyes at a pace that we could hardly follow. Particularly noteworthy is the emergence and increase in popularity of the Internet, as well as ubiquitous automation. These two elements changed the face of the service and industry sectors forever, but thanks to them the real revolution has come to retail.
Did you know that in 2020 over 21.3% of all sales took place on the Internet? In the US alone, this translates to nearly a trillion dollars in items and services offered and purchased through the world's largest digital medium. The numbers are impressive, but they also have far-reaching consequences. Online shopping requires extended logistics, after all, every single package must finally be in the hands of the buyer. With such a rapidly growing number of shipments, it was imperative to develop solutions that would simplify the delivery process. This is how parcel lockers were born. They centralize the last mile, reducing the need to deliver to many individual addresses, positively influencing the environment, economy and traffic congestion of cities. We have already written more about last mile logistics in THIS article.
A solution that amazed the world
The parcel machines have been very successful. The data shows that over 30% of e-commerce customers choose the option of delivery to these devices. No wonder that their potential has also been noticed in other branches of retail, but also in the service sector, and the whole idea of using this type of vending machine to handle all types of orders has been named as click & collect. Its development can be especially noticed over the last year, when the world has plunged into the coronavirus pandemic and all forms of non-contact services have become desirable and valued.
Automated parcel terminals also began to appear in front of traditional stores, linking the world of e-commerce with stationary outlets. What are the advantages of such a hybrid solution?
Is the terminal in front of the store a „must have”?
No, it's not a necessity, but it's a great idea to simplify daily shopping experience and make it more enjoyable, faster and more convenient.
Supermarkets, large food discount stores and DIY stores are characterized by a large area, filled to the brim with a diverse assortment. Additionally, their layout is changed from time to time, which confuses customers. These elements add up to the fact that these daily purchases takes much time, becoming frustrating in the long run. In addition, shops are becoming overcrowded, so clients need to jostle and stand in long lines.
In the 21st century, some of the above problems were solved by e-commerce, enabling remote shopping with home delivery. A seemingly ideal solution, but here are also some logistical problems in the form of unfavorable time deliveries (absence at home), or often too long waiting for the shipment.
The click & collect system implemented in parallel with traditional stores combines the advantages of both worlds, showing that the golden mean does really exist. Thanks to this, each customer can do shopping in the online store during a break at work, and pick up their order on the same day straight from the automatic locker. The store's opening hours are also not a problem, as the stations operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so pickup is possible at any time of the day or night. No tedious and time-consuming wandering between the aisles, no waiting for the courier, no nerves.
As the above examples show, the use of automatic parcel stations is a universal solution, but their role in the difficult period of a pandemic cannot be overestimated. Recent events have shown that during the difficult period of lockdown, they help stores keep their lives and customers to make necessary purchases in a safe manner. Of course, there is also the hygienic and sanitary aspect, i.e. the fact that the entire process takes place without contact or even touchlessly (thanks to dedicated app), which effectively prevents the risk of spreading the disease to others.
SelfMaker can boast of implementing such a system in the Leroy Merlin DIY store chain, and you can read a more detailed description of this project on the blog at: https://www.selfmaker.uk/business-case-szybkomat-24-7-click-collect-system-in-leroy-merlin-stores-based-on-selflocker-devices/
Rivals are not asleep
In order to stand out from the competition in the 21st century, it is not enough to tempt with promotions, low prices, a rich assortment, you have to go a step further and provide your customers with such conditions that will make them want to stay with the brand for longer. Today's customers value saving time and nerves even more than saving money, and this can be ensured by a properly designed click & collect system, which will reduce the time wasted on essential shopping from a few hours to just a few minutes. The idea of click & collect in trade is a hit and a precise targeting of the needs of a large part of socjety. And this guarantees its further development and spreading increasingly wider circles, including other sectors of the economy.