Technology & Equipment

5 ways to get the most from smart food lockers

Apex Order Pickup Solutions

Many foodservice operators have likely heard all the buzz about smart lockers. But for those who are curious yet unsure exactly where to start the vetting process, it’s helpful to learn more about them and how to maximize their benefits. Here are five major considerations and subcomponents to help prepare for the best possible execution.

  1. Understand how to use the data

The best smart food lockers make it easier for foodservice operations to offer quick and convenient online ordering and pickup, creating a seamless experience for employees and guests. Consistent reporting gives operators the data to make informed decisions..

Smart locker systems can provide data on the following:

  • Time a specific order was picked up
  • Average order dwell times
  • Best times to fire orders and send notifications
  • Average order create-to-load times
  • Efficiency and wait times of Delivery Service Provider (DSP) services
  • More complete data trail/chain of custody for each order
  • Single location or system-wide performance
  1. Technical considerations

The most versatile smart food lockers easily integrate with leading POS providers, kiosks, restaurant management tools, mobile order and aggregator solutions and other key tech partners. This creates a more efficient employee workflow and gives guests a delightful digital experience. 

Menu development and to-go packaging go hand in hand. Here are a few considerations:

  • How can staff best present pickup orders for that “wow” factor, truly branding the experience? Remember the size of the locker door will dictate the size, stacking and arrangement of the goods inside.
  • Sustainability is a hot topic among nearly all food operators and consumers alike. How will this factor into the overall pickup and packaging strategy?
  • Will the foodservice operation need to send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for packaging? If so, consider this in the launch timeline.
  1. Placement

For existing service locations, operators will want to study their current foot traffic patterns, as well as days and times when there are increased populations in the area. Knowing this will help identify the number of lockers and exact location(s) for an optimal guest experience. For newly designed locations, it's optimal to incorporate the lockers into the plan as soon as possible. A design consultant will be knowledgeable in creating good flow, and the Apex team is happy to be part of the discussion from the very beginning.
Anticipating an uptick in orders and increased throughput are two of the top requests from Apex customers. Now is the time to examine back-of-the-house processes for increased efficiencies. 

  1. Team engagement

Using lockers will change and perhaps even consolidate some roles within a foodservice operation’s team. Employees don't have to worry about orders being picked up. They can now focus almost exclusively on making and loading orders: the order load is frictionless, while the order hand-off is automated. This significantly reduces the amount of labor required to manage off-premises orders.

From chefs to administrators, every role plays an integral part in a successful roll-out. Chefs will want to discuss the creation of new menu items and provide feedback on how locker technologies will be part of the discussion (i.e., updating the database, packaging considerations, inventory management, and pickup limitations). This is a chance for the entire team to bring their expertise to the table and shine.

  1. Ready for roll-out: marketing

Most Apex customers utilize their locker solutions to bolster their marketing and branding efforts. Brand the lockers with the organization’s logo, brand colors, photography, tagline, marketing messages or other enhancements.

Especially with multiple locker set-ups, directional signage can help with the foot traffic and flow. Additionally, if there’s a specific ordering app that a facility uses, signage to encourage downloading the app is helpful in engaging passersby; this can be as simple as having a sign with a QR code to download the app that says, “Order today! Download the app!”

Along with standard website and signage updates, non-commercial entities have many internal media they can capitalize on, including closed circuit television, newspapers, and newsletters. Special event opportunities abound! Consider a special launch event to demonstrate the lockers and build excitement. Create events around new menu items and other concurrent events (e.g., finals week or special community events.) A press release to local media and media invites to any initial launch event can go a long way in telling the story of innovation while building excitement and engagement with the team.  

Visit Apex Order Pickup Solutions to learn more about how its smart locker solutions can create the gold standard for guests, operations and team.

This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions