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More than ever before, there’s an increased need to improve the package delivery system. Technological advancement has led to a sharp rise in the number of e-commerce stores, but most of them are small-scale. The few large-scale competitors leverage economies of scale and, so far, have been able to reduce the shipping time to a record low of two days on average.
If you have a small-to-medium online business, you’d want to live up to similar standards of fast and efficient deliveries. Otherwise, your customers may run to your competitors for their better services. One approach is to automate your package delivery. In this article, you’ll learn how to automate your delivery and the benefits you’ll gain from this system.
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1. Set Up an Automated Delivery Kiosk
In line with your customer-centric goal, it pays to start from the customer’s end of the distribution chain.
Downsides of Traditional Delivery
Traditionally, when a customer places an order, you aim to deliver the package in person. That involves sending delivery staff up to the client’s house or any other agreed pickup point. While this system may work well, it becomes a bit bothersome in areas with security loopholes.
It’s not uncommon nowadays for a delivery person to place a package at the customer’s doorstep, only for an opportunistic onlooker to quietly pick up the delivered goods and disappear with them. If the customer fails to find the items, they might sense foul play on your end and demand a refund.
In-Person Delivery Might Be Equally Problematic
To solve the problem of losing packages to thieves, perhaps your next course of action is ensuring that the delivery person hands the boxes to the customer instead of simply leaving them at the doorstep.
But this, too, has its fair share of challenges. For one, it’s not always possible to meet at the exact agreed-on time. Either the messenger or the customer might be caught up for reasons such as heavy traffic and end up unnecessarily making the other party wait.
An Excellent Solution
Perhaps your best bet is to set up an automated delivery kiosk at a strategic point in an area you deliver several goods to. It’s automated in the sense that there’s no one operating the kiosk to oversee the delivery and pickup of products. Instead, it employs a smart locker system, the details of which you’ll learn in the next section. You’ll have to order a kiosk from a company that supplies and installs them.
You can choose either an indoor or outdoor kiosk. For the indoor ones, you can rent a small space within a mall. Select a location that’s easily accessible to customers, preferably on the ground floor. Otherwise, you can install them at outdoor spots like bus stops, airport arrival areas, public parks, and outside mega buildings.
2. Configure the Smart Locker System
With a package delivery kiosk in place, the next step is to determine how it’s going to operate. Usually, it’ll come with a smart touch screen, similar to those in automatic teller machines (ATMs). The delivery staff uses the touch screen to access the customer’s order details. By keying in that information, an appropriately sized locker opens in correspondence to the package size. They then place the package in the open compartment and lock it.
At this same moment, the system sends either an email or a text message to the customer confirming that their package is ready for pickup. The message includes a unique PIN number the customer should use to open the particular compartment their ordered goods are stored in. Alternatively, if a customer has a smartphone, the system can send a QR code to them. The smart screen will scan this QR code and grant access to the customer when they come to pick up their goods.
It’s up to you to discuss such options with the smart locker contractor and decide which ones to use. For instance, you may opt for text messages only, emails only, in-app messages, or any combination of the three. Likewise, you can choose between PINs or QR codes. You can still use both if you want to cater to all customers with or without smartphones.
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3. Remotely Monitor the System
Once set up and configured correctly, the system can run on its own without human intervention. But even so, you need to monitor whatever is going on at the delivery kiosk. You’ll have software on your computer or an app on your phone for this purpose. As long as you’re connected to the internet, you can monitor events at the kiosk from many miles away.
Here are some important alerts and reports you’ll be receiving:
- Door Open: If the delivery staff places a package inside the locker but leaves the door open, you’ll get an alert to remind them to close the door. The same applies when a customer leaves a door open. You can further automate your app to send reminders to the concerned person. You only take further action if they fail to lock the door even after receiving reminders.
- Locker Status: You also need to know if a locker is full, empty, assigned, or unassigned. The app automatically generates such reports at whatever intervals you wish to receive them: hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. Knowing these details helps you assess the usage of the lockers to determine whether you need additional ones or if there’s a need for you to scale down.
- Abandoned Items: You can also set the system to alert you if a package stays in a given locker beyond a specified time frame. From there, you can start investigating the cause of the delay in the pickup and decide on the appropriate measure to take.
Is a Smart Locker System the Right Automation Strategy for You?
From the discussion above, it’s evident that this package delivery system is more efficient than the traditional methods. Firstly, its contactless nature makes it convenient to both the delivery staff and the customer as they can drop and pick up packages at their own convenience. Secondly, it allows for around-the-clock pickup of parcels. No customer is disadvantaged because they’re available only at night or in the wee hours. Thirdly, it reduces operating costs in that you don’t have to pay staff to man the package collection point.
So if this particular system interests you, make a point of contacting a reputable smart locker contractor near your business jurisdiction to experience the convenience and efficiency it provides.
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