As Lowes Foods grocers seek safer, more efficient ways to reach customers. The rapid growth in online grocery sales caused by the pandemic has fueled a boom in the smart locker market.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the market is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2027, up from $644 million in 2020. As grocers try to keep up with changing consumer habits, lockers with cooling technology may play a role in that growth.
How Lowes Foods Will Expand Its Pickup Service.
Lowes Foods has announced plans to expand its pickup service in the Triangle by teaming up with Bell and Howell. A technology and service company, to deliver its temperature-controlled lockers to local businesses. The groceries would be delivered and placed in lockers from the nearest store. When an order is ready, customers are notified and can retrieve it using a QR code.
The Winston-Salem-based supermarket chain offered its “Lowes to Go” programme for 25 years. They will now collaborate with a Durham-based industrial automation firm to cater to workers as they return to work.
Bell and Howell’s space on South Alston Avenue will host the first locker.
According to Chad Petersen, vice president of e-commerce at Lowes Foods, the is to provide convenience and flexibility without sacrificing food safety and quality.
“At least at this early stage,” Petersen said, “it’s more of a bespoke offering that we can provide versus set pickup points around the Triangle.” “We’ll find the right partners, figure out what they need, and then plan the installation and logistics around that.”
How Online Grocery Stores Will Take Over.
According to GrocerKey CEO and co-founder Jeremy Neren, online grocery sales in the United States may exceed $100 billion by 2021. And may account for 12% of all grocery sales. Five years ago, online grocery orders accounted for less than 1% of total orders!
“As a retailer, you want to make sure you’re putting yourself in a position to increase share of wallet, which means getting customers to buy more” said Neren. “If there is a locker in an apartment or office building, they are more likely to do that. On their way home, they can pick up their items in a lobby.”
According to Neren, the off-premise lockers help grocers serve customers’ needs outside of their physical store locations.
He explained, “They’re putting the products close to them, reducing friction and increasing the likelihood of customers buying from the grocer.”
Bell and Howell is a leader in the consumer pickup and automation industry. Contains over 1,000 employees serving the retail, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Food banks and farmers markets are also partners with the company.
“The partnership with Bell and Howell allows us to take advantage of new technology so that we can work with local businesses, hospitals, organisations, universities and schools. Also gives a chance to work with high-rises, to select destinations that are convenient for community visitors” According to Petersen. “We’re taking our well-known level of service and turning it into a unique value proposition.
The New System for Temperature Purposes.
According to Joe Zuech, VP of Grocery at Bell and Howell, the smart locker system, called QuickCollect GL. Is unique as it contains features such as the ability to change the locker temperature for cooling and warming purposes.
“Because of the nature of food, [the growth] of online groceries has been delayed,” Zuech explained. “We needed to solve the food safety issue, which we did exceptionally well with this technology.”
“The challenge that grocers are looking at is: How do I provide a good, quick, and convenient experience to my customers while also supporting that practically from a logistics and operations standpoint because grocery stores were not originally built for this much volume of e-commerce,” he said. “They’re retooling, just like all the other retailers have done in the last 10 to 15 years as e-commerce has grown.”
Pickup and delivery are available at all 16 Lowes Foods locations in the Triangle. Including the newest location on Mills Park Drive in Cary, which opened in March. In the Triangle, the company employs over 2,200 people.
Lowes Foods, founded in 1954, now employs about 9,000 people and operates 74 stores in the Carolinas.
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