Package delivery was already a thing, porch pirates and all, long before the pandemic upended shopping norms.

Add in a deadly virus, and many brick-and-mortar shoppers retreated, seeking a contactless way to get their goods.

Enter Parcel Pending, a relative newcomer to the delivery trend. Founded in 2012, the startup brought smart lockers to apartment communities where property managers were fast becoming package handlers. The Irvine-based company’s contactless delivery solution is among a growing industry that is front and center in the pandemic-stricken retail world

In late 2019, Parcel Pending was acquired by Paris-based Quadient (formerly Neopost) for $100 million. The merger would give the small firm a platform from which to grow its product on a grand scale. In recent weeks, its CEO and founder Lori A. Torres, a former executive with Irvine Company, cut a deal with Lowe’s Home Improvement to install smart lockers at 1,700 retail stores nationwide by March 2021.

Torres shared with us how the business has adjusted in a COVID-19 world. Her answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Customers who wish to retrieve merchandise from a Parcel Pending by Quadient locker will receive an email notification with a one-time user barcode. To get their products, they scan the barcode at the locker using their smartphone, which unlocks the unit. (Photo courtesy of Parcel Pending by Quadient)

Q: The concept of curbside and in-store pickup has ramped up considerably in recent years as more and more consumers shop online. Are you finding increased demand for your lockers from other businesses as a result of COVID-19?

A: Yes! We’re experiencing high demand from new businesses, verticals and industries, including libraries to help them manage their book returns and check-out process, supply chains and back-of-house operations within the hospitality industry to manage things like housekeeping supplies, and also different municipalities within cities nationwide.

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Q: The Lowe’s project seems like a pretty big deal for Parcel Pending. How did this come about?

A: Parcel Pending was selected as the exclusive locker partner for Lowe’s after a comprehensive evaluation process. (The company declined to say how much the deal with Lowe’s was worth.)

Q: How do these lockers work?

A: They generate a scannable barcode when an order is ready for pickup. After a Lowe’sassociate fulfills an online order, the customer receives an automated email notification with a one-time user barcode. The customer completes the pickup by scanning the barcode at the locker using their smartphone.

The lockers work the same way for residents at multifamily communities, employees at a commercial property or students at a university. Consumers can quickly and easily pick up their packages whenever they want and without having to come in contact with anyone.

Q: Getting these lockers into 1,700-plus Lowe’s locations seems like a tall order from a logistics standpoint. Has the installation process already started, and how long will it take to get all the units in place?

A: We are pretty deep into the install project and will complete all stores within Q1 of 2021. Our lockers can be found at Lowe’s stores in more …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

      

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