In a move the company says will bring new customer conveniences to a booming online pickup business, Albertsons Cos. said this morning that it would install temperature-controlled self-service pickup lockers at select Jewel stores near Chicago and Safeway units in the Bay Area.
The walk-up lockers—marketed by Bell and Howell as the QuickCollect GL—can be configured to keep ambient, chilled, frozen and even hot items at appropriate temperatures while awaiting pickup.
Industry watchers have been anticipating further deployment of lockers at stores as a means to efficiently meet the growing demand for online grocery, providing a streamlined and “contact-free” alternative to traditional curbside exchanges. Such solutions are particularly popular in Europe. Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons said digital sales grew by 276% in its first fiscal quarter sparked largely by expanding click-and-collect shopping it calls its Drive Up & Go service.
“Contactless PickUp through our state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled lockers makes it even easier to shop with us,” Chris Rupp, EVP and chief customer and digital officer for Albertsons, said in a release. “Whether customers choose to shop in our familiar neighborhood stores or through our websites and apps, we are ready to provide them with extraordinary service where and how they want to get their groceries. Our strategy to leverage technology and innovation to continue to grow our digital business is focused on creating products customers love that truly make their lives easier.”
The units—which are expected to be operational at Jewel stores at 370 Des Plaines Ave. and 6107 S. Archer in Chicago later this month, and in some Bay Area Safeway stores later this year, can be installed inside or outside of stores.
Individual columns in the modular setup can be adjusted dynamically to ensure specific temperatures required to meet the wide needs of a variety of customers’ online orders are maintained, the companies said.
“We are excited to partner with Albertsons Cos. to help them deliver a convenient and contactless pickup experience for their customers,” Larry Blue, CEO of Bell and Howell, said. “With our temperature-controlled grocery lockers, Albertsons Cos. customers can quickly and conveniently pick up their entire order, from heated to frozen food items, whenever and wherever they want.”
According to Bell and Howell, the standard configuration for the QuickColleck GL includes 20 lockers and five columns. Standard units stand a little more than eight feet tall and more than 15 feet wide.
Bell and Howell has a larger unit, known as the XL, which can accommodate multiple drive-up shoppers. A version of that unit is being tested by a Walmart store in Texas.