Smart Lockers: The Customer Service that Pays You Back

“Porch pirates” don’t confine their larcenous activities to the holiday season, and the cost of replacing stolen packages is a growing part of inventory shrinkage for U.S. businesses. While there are no reported statistics for the cost of package theft, insurance companies and shippers alike are finding that their costs for replacement of stolen packages are increasing each year, as online shopping becomes a way of life for American consumers. The impact of package theft is felt by everyone in the supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer.

One of the least quantifiable effects of package theft is its impact on a brand. It takes a high degree of trust for a shopper to pay for a product without receiving it immediately. As noted by brand consultant Shep Hyken in Forbes Magazine, consumers blame the seller for a missing delivery even though the seller is not at fault. The aftermath of insurance claims and waiting for replacement only adds to the negative experience associated with the brand, making consumers less likely to buy from that seller again. The loss of customer loyalty, and the subsequent loss of future sales to those customers, drives the cost of package theft even higher.

Technology has an answer: smart lockers. Carriers notify the shipper’s server when a delivery is made to a smart locker, and the shipper automatically sends an alert to the recipient, including information about accessing the locker with a one-time code.

Fulfillment leader Amazon took on the “last mile” of the delivery system a few years ago when they began installing centralized secure lockers where consumers could retrieve packages near their homes, instead of having their packages dropped off at their front doors. Recently Amazon announced The Hub, a similar system for apartment residents. Uniquely, The Hub will accept deliveries from any shipper, not just Amazon.

By continuously improving the customer experience with better-secured deliveries, smart lockers are letting Amazon build on its reputation for trustworthiness. It’s a technology that other businesses can put into place with equal effect, wherever there’s a need for secure deliveries – retail, hospitality, universities, multi-family residences. Smart lockers underscore a brand’s customer-centric focus, which in turn builds brand loyalty. Smart lockers are a smart investment that pay you back in improved risk management and positive brand perception. Everyone wins (except the porch pirates).