Countdown Click & Collect Lockers

Elocker and Woolworth’s New Zealand, who trade as Countdown, started discussing the use of click and collect lockers in 2019 - before the world had heard of Covid. Countdown’s Click and Collect in-store offer had become increasingly popular, so the extension of its service to include refrigerated and frozen lockers was a logical one. 

The Opportunity

Elocker and Woolworth’s New Zealand, who trade as Countdown, started discussing the use of click and collect lockers in 2019 - before the world had heard of Covid. Countdown’s Click and Collect in-store offer had become increasingly popular, so the extension of its service to include refrigerated and frozen lockers was a logical one. With the change in consumer behaviour during the Covid lockdown’s and in-between lockdowns, Countdown’s decision to go down this path was far-sighted.

Given the nature of what was required, the procurement process was detailed. The lockers, and the systems that drove them, had to meet Countdown’s exacting standards to ensure easy use for staff and, most importantly, a seamless, intuitive experience for customers. The lockers would also be used inside and outside Countdown stores, so they had to be durable and withstand any of New Zealand’s weather conditions.

Countdown considered several international suppliers, but Elocker was selected for many reasons. Including our high level of service, understanding of New Zealand retail environments, established and proven software and our world-leading manufacturing quality.

The Solution

The initial trial of three stores were 64-door combinations of Ambient, Frozen and Chilled lockers. Our lockers are modular 16-door units that link together and appear as a single block of lockers.

There was a large body of work completed to meet Countdown’s customer orders. Working backwards from an average shop size and how many bags would be required, Elocker developed a solution that met the capacity requirement. The ratio of Frozen: Chilled: Ambient lockers was also considered. Given the split required, Elocker designed and manufactured a new product to meet Countdown’s requirements – a Combo unit with eight doors of Frozen and eight Chilled compartments.

This combination was a perfect solution for when we rolled out the 32-door versions for smaller stores.

The trial quickly revealed that there was no need for Ambient lockers. One of the refrigeration features allows us to adjust the range of temperatures, so the Ambient was converted promptly into Chilled lockers.

Paramount in all of our thinking, and work with Countdown, was the customer experience. We addressed questions like the average shopping mix, what does the customer need from the locker pick-up experience, how far does the customer have to walk between multiple locker orders, and how quick and easy the pick-up experience is. One of the keys to answering these questions was the Terminals and User Experience generated by them.

For the 64-door setups, we designed a two-terminal solution. The system is set, so the doors used for any order are as close to each other as possible. This algorithm saves customers from having to go from one end of the setup to the other. The screen also has an image (see below) of where the customer’s order resides. The doors also have LED lights to direct customers; plus, they pop open when the customer wants to access their order.

Elocker also added safeguards for Countdown’s customers. Accessing lockers multiple times if they closed, adding a buffer ‘finished’ time if a customer forgot to access a locker or left some goods in one and a multitude of small user experience touches ensures the customer has a safe, quick pick-up experience.

Integrating Elocker’s software, developed and improved with 12-years of international learnings, with Countdown’s e-commerce system was one of our first tasks. Our support team of developers worked closely with the Countdown team to ensure the systems were easy to manage, had the correct alerts for any variation in temperatures, and communicate correctly with customers.

Elocker also spent considerable time with Countdown establishing our ongoing support. As well as having our base support from what we know, we’ve also evolved our offer to meet Countdown’s specific needs. New Zealand also has some unique needs, so Elocker has adapted our support processes accordingly. 

By having a well-established and proven software system driving the lockers, we delivered a successful integration.

Installing the lockers also takes a variety of skilled people. Elocker has assembled a team that complements each other’s skillsets, addresses any issues quickly and accurately, and always delivers gold-level work standards. As a result, Elocker has been able to provide several store installations in various locations and on a variety of surfaces. Organising a nationwide rollout with inevitable changes and disruptions caused by Covid19 also required careful planning.

The Result

The use of refrigerated and frozen lockers in New Zealand is a first. There is now a nationwide network of lockers from Invercargill to Kerikeri, and customer reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. An early survey of Countdown customers, run by Countdown, resulted in an overall score of 9 out of 10.

Elocker has also spent much time watching how staff and customers use the lockers. The experience has delivered our promise, with the majority of users finding access quick and easy. One mother with children in the car said, 'I so wish these were here when my kids were smaller. These lockers are an absolute blessing'.

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