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Data-driven food lockers increase labor efficiency and fuel brand growth

Photograph courtesy of Apex Order Pickup Solutions

The demand for off-premises dining and contactless pickup just keeps growing. In fact, a recent report showed that a whopping 67% of the average restaurant’s revenue now comes from orders placed online or over the phone1.

So it’s not surprising that operators have experimented with a lot of methods to get those orders to the right customers, safely, securely and profitably. Now that labor shortages and rising wages are adding to the challenge, it’s often hard to give customers the fast, contactless experience they want.

Today’s most advanced food lockers meet these challenges head on. They replace manual (and often awkward) order handoff processes and cluttered order pickup shelves with streamlined, efficient order handoff through a secure, smart locker. This not only reduces employee labor, but it also increases throughput and transactions during peak hours.

The most advanced locker solutions also capture new data from multiple employee and customer touchpoints to offer new operational insights across a brand’s portfolio as well as a closer look at the last step of their customer’s digital journey.

Increasing labor efficiency for order handoff

As food locker technologies continue to improve, they’re reducing the labor needed to manage the surge in off-premise and third-party delivery service orders. They eliminate the need for a dedicated employee to manage orders and make sure they go to the right customer or delivery driver. Once the order is placed in the locker compartment, it’s secure until it’s retrieved by scanning or entering a unique QR code. That also eliminates unnecessary handling by other customers or drivers.

Some food lockers have even been specially designed for added efficiency with a two-sided workflow that lets employees quickly load orders in the open back of the compartment, without having to step into customer areas. Customers then pick up at the front without having to search through bags on a shelf or wait for an employee to help them.

Most leading foodservice brands also look for lockers that can be easily integrated with their existing point of sale and other back-of-house technology systems. This gives employees a simpler workflow and gives customers and delivery drivers a seamless digital experience.

Smarter technology provides fast, contactless loading and pickup

The pandemic has made many customers wary of waiting in a restaurant’s lobby for their order to be ready.

Food lockers that offer advanced software can provide more accurately timed order-ready notifications, so customers know they can zip in, grab their order and get out quickly. Some food lockers even have customizable compartment lights to guide customers to the correct order, saving them even more time. This can reduce order pickup times to 10 seconds or less. These features are even more important for delivery drivers, who are trying to squeeze as many delivery orders as possible into their shifts.

New areas of data visibility and insights

One of the unexpected benefits of modern food lockers is that they give foodservice operators valuable new data from their order handoff and customer pickup activities – areas of the business that are typically in the dark. This data can be used to increase the efficiency of the order handoff process, provide more accurate timing for order-ready notifications, and enhance the customer experience.

Apex Order Pickup Solutions is at the forefront of developing sophisticated locker technology and is one of the world’s leading providers of automated solutions for foodservice, retail and B2B ecommerce. They’ve recently partnered with Welbilt, a leading global provider of commercial foodservice equipment, to manufacture the new OrderHQ™ Series, the third generation of food lockers from Apex. Welbilt will manufacture the lockers in the United States, and will be sold by both Apex and Welbilt’s Merco brand.

The demand for off-premise orders is one of the foodservice industry’s fastest-growing opportunities. However, labor costs will likely keep rising. Smart food lockers like the OrderHQ Series give operators a powerful solution to make every off-premise order more profitable, while keeping customers and delivery drivers happy with fast, contactless pickup.

1 “2021 Restaurant Readiness Index.” PYMNTS and Paytronix. July 202

This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions