The struggle is real. Mail centers are currently overwhelmed with parcels and they’re about to get even busier: shipping volume is expected to increase by nearly 15% through 2024.
Learn how enterprises, universities and government agencies are adopting smart lockers to address mail room challenges, while also discovering innovative uses that enhance services for employees, students, constituents and more.
Smart lockers transform parcel & asset management
Adopt to adapt: Smart lockers for enterprise, higher ed and government
The ecommerce boom has mail centers struggling to keep pace not only with the tasks at hand, but also with the rising expectations of those they employ and serve. As a hybrid mix of onsite and remote work becomes the norm, more and more organizations are adapting with technology-enabled solutions—including smart lockers.
Smart lockers are being embraced by enterprises, higher education and government to modernize the entire mail center experience and help those they employ and serve stay safe and productive. But many of these same organizations are discovering that the smart locker is far too useful to confine to mailroom duty only.
Whether we’re talking a 500-strong corporate office or a facilities management firm, the challenges are similar: you need a safe, secure way to manage packages and assets, as well as visibility into everything that moves across the organization. It’s not an easy task when “across the organization” increasingly includes remote worker locations.
Some 90% of companies are transitioning to a “hybrid” workforce that combines on-site and remote employees. Ensuring employees feel safe, productive and valued whether working remotely at home or hot-desking it in the office is critical. This helps explain why over 61% of enterprises are planning to invest in smart locker technology.
Contactless delivery with smart lockers improves the safety and efficiency of traditional package and mail distribution. It requires less staff to operate and allows employees to rest assured their packages and mail are safe until they’re ready to pick them up. But it doesn’t end there. IT departments are using smart lockers to manage and maintain valuable assets like laptops and cell phones. Other enterprises have found that smart lockers help solve the challenges associated with the distribution, sharing and inventory of essential equipment and supplies.
For these reasons and more you can add smart lockers to the list of technology-enabled solutions the modern workplace demands.
2. Colleges and universities
Campus mail centers have long been bustling hubs that offer both students and staff access to critical services. Today, the bustle has grown more chaotic as overburdened mailrooms deal with an influx of packages and a generation of students that have come to expect convenient digital service options. Let’s be real—parents and staff expect the same.
Recent campus closures have revealed that services once considered conveniences could be a matter of organizational survival, particularly when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of students and staff. Smart lockers not only ease the burden of traditional package and mail distribution, they offer a secure no-contact experience.
No-contact experiences aren’t just for the campus mail center. Like enterprises, campuses are using smart lockers for asset management as well as a host of other services. Generation buy-it-online sees no reason why they should walk the aisles of the campus bookstore or check out equipment from the library. Smart lockers allow bookstores, libraries and other departments to receive a request online and fulfill it through a locker.
Want to order a book for class and pick it up later? Done! Need to check out or return some video equipment? Done! Don’t have the resources to staff a lost and found? Done!
3. Government agencies
From administrative office to court of law, maintaining business continuity is both a pledge to those they serve and a mandate that must be fulfilled—often by law. This places a special burden on government employees managing packages, mail and assets.
Smart lockers for state and municipal agencies
Consider the challenges: ensuring the health and safety of staff and community, tracking every document and asset moving across the agency, keeping whatever needs to be secure under lock and key. Smart lockers with their security, tracking and auditing capabilities are a game changer for this sector.
In addition to package and mail distribution, asset management and other secure services for staff, many state, county and municipal agencies are adopting smart lockers to enhance citizen services. Rather than have a staff member wait on someone who needs to pick up a document or permit, smart lockers allow citizens to request what they need online and pick it up when they’re able. Not only is this a boon to busy staff, it helps serve those who may not have the ability to get the help they need during office hours.
Smart locker systems for the military
Charged with the defense of our country, the nation’s military must maintain a constant state of readiness. Every military base contains high-value equipment and gear that must be securely stored, maintained and tracked at all times. In addition, smart devices that are restricted from certain areas must also be securely stored and accounted for. Military smart lockers ensure that uniforms and tactical gear such as radios, night vision goggles and first aid kits are always organized and ready for any mission.
Smart lockers can also make the military’s management of incoming parcels more efficient. Similar to the situation at many colleges and universities, the post offices at most military bases weren’t built to accommodate the volume of today’s parcel shipments. Servicemen and women on military bases often have long waits to receive their online orders or packages from home. Today, military smart lockers can provide secure, convenient self-service parcel delivery for military personnel and their families.
4. Public libraries
Today’s busy schedules can make visiting a library during normal hours a challenge, and tight budgets have forced many libraries to cut their hours of operation. Although drop boxes allow after-hours returns, some materials, such as electronics, could be damaged in the process. Plus, returning a book to a drop box is a one-way transaction. To borrow another book, you must make an additional trip to the library.
That’s why a growing number of libraries are installing smart locker systems to enable curbside checkouts and after-hours returns. Borrowers can request a book online or by phone. A librarian places the requested book in a locker, and a notification containing a unique PIN or barcode is automatically sent to the borrower, who can collect the book at his or her convenience. Shortly before the book is due to be returned, the borrower will receive a notice with instructions on how to either return the book to a library smart locker or extend the due date. Because the smart locker software interfaces with the library management system, tracking of borrowers, books, due dates and returns is accurate and automatic. Library smart locker systems can also be installed in other locations throughout the community, eliminating the need to build costly branch libraries.
From use case to choice of provider
The use cases are solid, but what next? There are countless new providers launching their own version of the smart locker. If your organization is serious about incorporating smart lockers into your current services, here are the top three things that you should you look for in a partner:
- Longevity: Evaluate whether the provider has the potential to support you for the term of your business.
- GSA approval: For some government use cases, it’s necessary to determine whether a supplier has been authorized to supply equipment or services to the Federal government.
- Quality: Look for smart lockers that are built to last with software capable of delivering the operational efficiencies you need.
- Service: Determine if the provider has the service infrastructure to immediately respond to service calls.