Makro plans to launch its first click and collect lockers before June 2015, with a wider rollout planned for the second half of the year.
Makro’s head of e-commerce Paul van de Waal said the lockers will be placed at select Sasol petrol stations across South Africa, with further deployment partnerships in development.
Makro’s plans to launch a locker-based click and collect service were detailed in November 2014, as a means to provide additional delivery options for online shoppers.
When using the locker delivery option, you select which site to have your items delivered to, after which you will be kept informed of the status of your order by SMS.
Once your order is ready for collection, you will receive an SMS with a unique code which must be typed into the locker computer. The system will then open the locker containing your items.
Demo locker, manufacturing delays
Van de Waal said they have a test locker set up at Massmart’s headquarters in Midrand which staff have been using for several months.
When implemented, the plan is to give customers 2 days to collect their items, sending them regular SMS reminders that their orders have arrived.
If you don’t collect in that time, your order will be returned to the nearest Makro store where you will be able to collect it.
Van de Waal said the locker rollout will start later than originally intended, in part because their partner, UTI, chose to have the lockers manufactured locally.
The lockers will be built to comply with global standards, and UTI had to produce a number of test units which were vetted by overseas experts.
Once approved, full-scale production of the lockers will begin.
One of the benefits of the locker design is that it is completely modular, Van de Waal said.
Not only can Makro hook more columns of lockers up to a single controller, it can also customise the size of the lockers in every column.
For example, they are considering changing the layout so that at least one column has three larger lockers instead of many drawers.
In terms of locker and customer safety, Van de Waal said they will place the units at well-lit petrol stations in safe neighbourhoods.
The lockers will also be equipped with security features, which he could not expand on.
Click and collect elsewhere in South Africa
It’s worth noting that Makro is not the only company that UTI has partnered with.
The company recently announced the launch of its UTI ByBox delivery terminals at Engen petrol stations, with the first locker installed at the Woodlands Convenience Centre.
Similar to Makro’s lockers, the idea is that retailers would include ByBox as a delivery option in their online ordering process.
UTI ByBox will also have an option to ship items from one ByBox to another. To use this feature, you have to buy UTI PAK packaging, box the goods you wish to send, scan the package at the locker terminal, and place it in the designated locker.
Makro’s demo unit has this functionality built into its computer, and Van de Waal said it is something they are looking into.
For now, though, Makro will focus on rolling out a solid click and collect delivery service.