Terry Woolford – Chief Commercial Officer – CKI Locker, LLC DBA American Locker
Electronic Lockers Evolved – Thinking Outside the Box
Lockers are just a box with a door and a lock, right? While not exactly rocket science, there is much more to intelligent lockers as secure delivery, distribution and storage solutions, today more than ever before. These smart lockers serve many diverse applications, and the list of potential applications is ever growing.
With over 85 years manufacturing and supplying secure lockers, American Locker has been at the forefront of this ever evolving storage business. The pioneers of the locker industry first used metal padlock-and-key system, the most rudimentary way of keeping visitors’ possessions safe. With the advent of commercial travel the need for secure lockers was born, the slogan “the key is the check” harkened to a time where coat checks were staffed at the theatre and a paper ticket issued. The introduction of coin or token operated lockers reduced the need for patrons to queue and interact with staff to secure their belongings, efficiency the driving force.
Todays’ consumers demand convenience, convenience, convenience, there is an expectation that every service is on demand, 24/7 and quick and simple to use. Today, while mechanical lockers are still very much in use at municipal facilities, schools and universities, more and more electronic lockers are becoming common place. They are especially suited to applications with high user throughput or where secure locker management with seamless reporting is required.
Electronic Locker Features
Today’s electronic lockers come with many options and features that make the most of cloud connectivity, improving both the user experience and the operational efficiency.
Positive Identification – by using credit cards to collect items, secure biometric information which includes retina, facial recognition and fingerprint. Bar code scanners can also be used to track packages to and from a location. Guest rentals can be activated using RFID badges, electronic cards or bracelets. Cameras can also be integrated to automatically store images of the collector for increased package security.
Secure Retrieval – consumer retrieval can be via pin number or barcode transmitted by email or text message. Lockers can be rented and opened from a local kiosk or opened with a configurable PIN keypad on each locker.
Payment Options – locker rental payments can be integrated with retail Point of Sale (POS) systems, paid for by credit card or cash on a local locker kiosk, or purchased for in advance with online reservation systems.
Remote Monitoring – locker rental data can be analyzed online, showing peak demand and locker location and size usage. Full remote support to troubleshoot and gather real time data.
Electronic notification – consumers can receive remote notification of locker status and notification of shipment arrival, offering them personalized secure pickup from various designated locations.
Electronic Locker Application Examples:
Asset Management Lockers
Commercial – A telecommunications company employs field service technicians from local support centers. Each shift the technicians are allocated calibrated test equipment for use during their shift. An intelligent locker solution securely stores the equipment with internal charging stations. The technicians log out the equipment and system uses their ID badge to record time in and out and the serial number of the test equipment issued.
First Responder – A first responder department allocates calibrated detection equipment to officers going on patrol. The secure locker system matches ID number with equipment number and records that information. At the end of the shift the equipment is logged back in to its secure locker location using a bar code for return validation.
Guest Rental Lockers
- Hourly Guests – guests at an indoor trampoline park rent time on the trampolines in 45 minute blocks. Shoes must be removed by guests so storage is required for these and other personal effects like wallets and cell phones. An electronic locker solution accepting credit cards and cash provides 1 hour rentals to guests, streamlining the process and improving guest satisfaction with no input from facility employees.
- Daily Guests – guests at a premium water park rent lockers by the day during their season. The water park makes different size lockers available each one priced differently, the option for variable pricing is also inbuilt to cover peak demand periods. With over 400 lockers and 3 kiosks the lockers have individual keypads, this means that guests only interact with the kiosk once at the initial rental. Multiple locker openings through the day are initiated directly from the locker improving throughput.
- Multi Day Guests – visitors to a ski lodge reserve accommodations, lift passes and equipment online. At the same time the visitor can rent an intelligent stainless steel equipment locker as an added benefit. The ski equipment is placed in the locker by lodge staff prior to visitor arrival and the guest is emailed the details along with the booking confirmation of locker location and PIN unlock instructions.
- Event Visitors – at a company convention visitors use their attendee badge scanned into a kiosk and are allocated an electronic locker for their use during the event. The locker system is fully branded for the event organizer and on the first day welcome information and personalized gift packs are waiting inside.The event visitor experience is greatly enhanced with the availability of these convention lockers.
Click and Collect (E-commerce)
- In Store Lockers – ordering online is increasing in popularity many traditional brick and mortar retailers now offer click and collect for their products. Consumers after ordering online collect their goods from a delivery point in store. Leading retailers are now offering collection lockers in store, avoiding long queues and tying up store staff to hand out products and issue receipts. The click and collect locker solution uses a QCR code scanner, with the code sent to the purchaser by email when the order is confirmed as being ready. The locker system can be double sided to allow loading from the rear by warehouse pick staff further streamlining the process.
- Parcel Delivery Points – pioneered in Europe they are now appearing stateside. These delivery/collection locker banks are located in public areas such as supermarkets, car lots and gas stations. The parcel delivery companies all deliver to the collection point and parcels are loaded one at a time and scanned into a secure location. Customers can select the locker location during the e-commerce transaction, enabling collection of their goods even when away from home. Returns can be handled by the same system and an onboard label printer can be configured to print the shipping/return label.
- Refrigerated Lockers – a mid size grocery retailer is now offering grocery click and collect using frozen, refrigerated and chilled electronic lockers.The locker bank is installed at the side of the supermarket with dedicated parking spaces directly in front. The installation comprises different size lockers able to handle all common grocery products, the system has self monitored temperature zones from deep frozen to chilled and ambient. The locker solution enables consumers to collect product 24/7 without the inconvenience of interacting inside the store to collect their order.
Parcel Delivery Lockers
- Multi-Family a 1200 unit multi-family apartment complex uses an electronic parcel delivery locker system to store packages for residents. Traditionally parcels have been left on the doorstep, a serious security risk or centrally in an office. The management offices are not equipped for storage and liability then rests with them. Time that apartment managers should be spending on managing leases is tied up with handling packages. During peak holiday demand parcel deliveries can increase by more than 5 times making this a significant and costly issue.Residents benefit from increased security and convenience, apartment owners benefit from reduced workload and delivery companies reduce their last mile delivery costs with a single delivery point.The residents receive electronic notification of deliveries and can access their goods for collection 24/7.
- Universities – a leading Midwest university offers students access to electronic delivery lockers on a semester by semester basis. Through a collaboration with an online text book retailer the locker systems also integrate with their e-commerce website offering students online delivery scheduling.
Laundry Collection/Drop Off – customers of a West coast laundry company now have access to a kiosk laundry collection and drop off locker system. The system integrates with the laundry POS (Point of Sale) with the system allocating an individual locker as the storage location. Customers can collect their laundry order by interacting with the kiosk and at the same time drop off laundry with specific instructions entered via the touchscreen. Payment can be made directly at the kiosk and the transaction receipts printed. The electronic laundry locker solution improves the customer experience with 24/7 curb side access.
The growth in e-commerce and increasing expectations around convenience is driving the growth in the applications for electronic delivery solutions. With the growth of Amazon traditional brick and mortar retailers are increasingly looking away from tried and trusted methods of reaching their customers. American Locker will stay at the forefront of electronic locker solutions that meet the changing world we live in.
American Locker is a leading manufacturer of secure storage, distribution and inventory management solutions. Established over 85 years ago, its proprietary offerings range from classic coin/token operated security lockers and employee/personal lockers to keyless and electronic controlled storage systems. These products provide the necessary storage capability to recreation, government, postal, and general corporate needs for day to day business operations.
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