Smart food lockers enhance the order pickup process

Food order pickup line
Photograph: Shutterstock

Digital ordering, customer pickup and order delivery have been lifesavers for non-commercial foodservice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Often these services were added quickly to meet the sudden shift in demand and to comply with dine-in restrictions. However, now it’s time to take a step back and ensure carryout ordering and fulfillment are being executed at a high level of quality.

Many guests are now very familiar with digital ordering, delivery and takeout, and they have high expectations for a fast, seamless experience at every step. Dining services will need to improve their digital offerings to meet those expectations and stand out from the competition.

In fact, one of the key areas of focus for many dining programs going forward is streamlining the pickup process for carryout orders. While many simply set up a table, cubbies or shelving to hold digital orders for pickup, this can lead to frustrating experiences for guests.

Often these makeshift handoff areas become congested with a combination of guests and delivery drivers, who may be touching bags to read order tags or even grabbing the wrong orders. In addition, employees may be pulled away from their routines to help sort out order mix-ups or to otherwise help manage the handoff process.

These challenges have led some forward-thinking dining teams to install smart pickup lockers, like those from Apex Order Pickup Solutions.

Jersey Mike’s, for example, partnered with onsite foodservice provider Gourmet Dining to build the sandwich chain’s first ghost kitchen at Rider University, using a wall of Apex lockers to streamline order pickup. The restaurant operates a standard make line behind the lockers, and guests unlock their compartment using a code they receive via text when their order is ready.

This gives on-the-go students, faculty and staff a quick and easy way to pick up food between classes. They know that no matter how busy the student dining center is, they can get their order in seconds without waiting in line.

“We want students to have access to Jersey Mike’s, and this is a way to get it to them,” said Phil Capozzi, vice president of non-traditional development for Jersey Mike’s, in an interview with Restaurant Business.

Lockers give employees an easy, repeatable process for loading orders that helps increase throughput and transactions during peak hours. Lockers also add efficiency by streamlining the order handoff process – employees simply place orders in the secure lockers, and they don’t have to check on them or bring them out to guests when they arrive.

Food and beverage teams can also make improvements to their systems and processes by analyzing the data they receive from the Apex locker solutions. Data around order pickup metrics, including what time the order was created, what time it was loaded to the locker and what time it was picked up, can be used to refine processes both at the specific location level and systemwide.

The lockers also provide benefits for guests, who want a secure, seamless and contactless experience. With lockers from Apex Order Pickup Solutions, guests can feel confident knowing their order has not been touched by other guests, that their order will be ready when they arrive and that they will be able to get in and out quickly. The same holds true for third-party delivery drivers, who can retrieve their orders without crowding the pickup area.

Visit Apex Order Pickup Solutions to learn more about how its smart locker solutions can take carryout service to the next level.

This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions