Understanding Smart Parcel Locker Software & Dashboards

The software is the intelligence behind a smart locker. Learn how the systems work from both user and administrative perspectives.

Fri Jul 16 07:04:00 EDT 2021
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Control units, tracking software, dashboards and user interfaces: the humble locker has entered the digital age.

Smart parcel lockers are powered by software that offers recipients a convenient parcel pickup option and allows operators to govern the process with end-to-end visibility. Learn how each component of a smart locker’s software contributes to the user experience.

Smart lockers transform parcel & asset management 

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Touchscreen to dashboard: Smart locker software components

Multiple software-enabled components contribute to a smart locker’s intelligence, from the touchscreen that users interact with to the locker dashboard operators use to manage the flow of parcels and assets. Here are the most common smart locker software components:

Locks: Each door has a digital lock controlled by the control column. Smart locker doors open automatically after the recipient validates their pickup from the lockers’ touchscreen or barcode scanner.

Control Column: As the processing center of the smart locker network, the control column provides its intelligence and connectivity. In addition to its processor, it might include any of the following features:

  • Touchscreen: The touchscreen allows recipients to interact with the smart locker. This is where they might enter a pin to retrieve a package or receive status updates or marketing messages.
  • Barcode scanner: The scanner delivers a contactless pickup experience. Operators use them to scan a package or item’s barcode before it’s placed in the locker. And recipients scan the barcode they’ve been sent to retrieve the package or item. 
  • ADA controller: This video and audio assistive controller helps ensure the smart locker is accessible to the disabled, helping operators better serve all users and meet ADA requirements.
  • ID verification: This feature verifies a recipient’s ID to ensure packages and assets get into the right hands and records the transaction to enhance end-to-end chain of custody reporting.
  • Operating system: The operating system powers the locker network and communicates with other systems. It allows an operator to manage a single locker or a fleet of lockers across multiple locations. It also seamlessly integrates with other software like track-and-trace solutions and retail ERP systems.

The recipient experience

The focus of most recipient interactions involves the control column. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes described below that the recipient simply perceives as a few easy steps in a seamless process.

  1. Recipient receives an automated message alerting them that their package is ready for pickup.
  2. The recipient enters the pin or scans the access barcode from their notification.
  3. The locker opens and the recipient grabs their parcel or item.

The administrator experience

The processes going on behind the scenes is where most of the action happens. A smart locker’s operating system integrates with other systems via APIs. This integration provides operators with a host of capabilities delivered through a locker dashboard, including:

  • Monitoring each locker’s status: open, closed, available, occupied, etc. 
  • Tracking parcels across the full chain-of-custody with end-to-end visibility
  • Reporting fluctuating volumes, changing needs and irregular movements
  • Sending automated notifications to recipients via an email, app or text message

Here’s what a package delivery looks like from the operator’s side of the smart locker’s software:

  1. Operator receives incoming orders or deliveries
  2. Staff delivers parcels to lockers, triggering tracking on the operator’s end and notifications on the recipient’s end
  3. Recipient retrieves the package, triggering a notification on the operator’s end
  4. Operator can view the complete transaction from end-to-end

What to look for in smart locker software

If you’re in the market for smart lockers, evaluate the solution’s software to be sure it includes the following features and capabilities:

Cloud-based: Cloud-based smart locker software eliminates IT costs and delays and automatically updates with new features as soon as they are released.

Ease of use: A solution meant to improve productivity shouldn’t involve training. The dashboard should provide all the direction an operator needs to be proficient.

Tracking software: Simple scans at relevant touch points provide all the information the system needs to track a package or asset throughout its journey.

Notifications: Whether by text, app or email, automated notifications play a critical role in the recipient’s experience.