Grocery retailer Stop & Shop is testing out the use of pickup lockers at one of its Boston stores (hat tip to Supermarket News). The temperature-controlled lockers allow customers to place an order online and have that order assembled and securely kept in-store until pickup.
The new lockers have three temperature settings: frozen, refrigerated and room temperature. After placing an order, the customer selects the locker option and a 45-minute time window for pickup. Customers receive a code via text within 15 minutes of their pickup time that they scan or enter on the locker kiosk screen. A light on the locker containing their order will flash and the door will unlock, allowing customers to grab their goods and go.
Stop & Shop is charging $2.95 for locker pickup and customers can’t order alcohol or other age-restricted items. There are also size restrictions, so presumably no ordering a 20-pack of paper towels.
If this pilot is successful, Stop & Shop says it could roll them out to more stores.
Pickup lockers are poised to become a regular feature at the grocer store. Albertsons launched two different takes on unattended pickup in recent months. In October, the company launched locker pickup at select Chicago Jewel-Osco locations in Chicago. Then in January of this year, the company debuted its robotic pickup kiosk, also at a Chicago Jewel-Osco.
Grocers are experimenting with new ways to get customers their groceries faster. The pandemic has more people shopping for groceries online, and at-store pickup can be a more convenient option for customers while being less costly for a retailer than ramping up home delivery.
In addition to these nascent locker programs, we’re also seeing retailers like Walmart, Albertsons and H-E-B increased their use of in-store automated order fulfillment. Kroger is meeting its e-commerce demand by building out large automated warehouses across the country to fullfill orders.
I expect we’ll see more locker options added to grocery stores, along with the incentive to use them, throughout this year. It’s not quite as convenient as curbside pickup (i.e., customers have to get out of their cars), but in urban areas where people may shop on bike or foot, it should provide a more convenient grocery experience.