Lowe's on Tuesday announced plans to install contactless pickup lockers at its stores in most major metro markets by Thanksgiving, and will continue to roll out the technology to all stores by March 2021.
Customers will receive a one-time barcode that can be scanned by the lockers when items are ready to be retrieved, according to a company announcement emailed to Retail Dive.
The home improvement retailer said lockers are available now at stores in locations including Charlotte, North Carolina, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
As the coronavirus took hold, many consumers began turning to e-commerce more than ever before. And though Lowe's was deemed an essential business during mass lockdowns, the home improvement retailer still saw online sales skyrocket in recent months.
Lowe's reported an 80% and 135% year-over-year increase in website sales during its first and second quarters, respectively. The company in recent months has also worked to roll out features related to its digital business, like transitioning its website to the cloud and offering curbside pickup services.
While much of this has been accelerated to support the surge in online sales brought on by the pandemic, CEO Marvin Ellison has been working to right missteps in Lowe's online business since his arrival in 2018. Last year, the retailer announced it would invest half a billion dollars annually until 2021 in order to transform the technological makeup of its business, which included opening a new tech center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The pickup lockers may prove especially beneficial during the ever-busy holiday period in providing consumers with a fast, contactless fulfillment solution, while also potentially serving as a more cost-efficient option for Lowe's over delivery. According to a recent survey conducted by BlackFriday.com and Survey Gizmo, half of consumers plan to use curbside or contactless fulfillment options more this holiday season compared to last year.
"With more than 60 percent of online orders picked up in our stores, this gives our customers one more option and the added convenience and flexibility to control how and when they get that order," Joe McFarland, Lowe's executive vice president of stores, said in a statement. "This is a significant step in our relentless efforts to create a fast and frictionless shopping experience for today's time-pressed customers."
The concept isn't new. Walmart in late 2016 began piloting its vending machine-like Pickup Towers and has since expanded the service to hundreds of more stores. And Amazon has installed its lockers within other retailers' stores, like Stein Mart and Whole Foods, as well as in apartment complexes.