[Photo caption: Plumbing and HVAC wholesale distributor Ferguson is using these “smart” cages to allow customers to pick up online orders at its distribution facilities on a self-service basis. Instead of going to a will call counter, customers are given a QR code, which they can use to unlock the cage and pick up their products at any time that is convenient for them.]
Like many companies, Ferguson, a wholesale distributor of plumbing and heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) supplies, is seeing an increase in omnichannel retailing, as its customers place orders not only through traditional methods such as in person and over the phone but also online through its website or mobile app.
One way that Ferguson has been handling pickup of online orders sales is by applying a solution that it originally used with its distribution center associates for checking out mobile devices: smart lockers.
Ferguson detailed this new approach during an educational session today at the ProMat DX2021 digital tradeshow. Inside their distribution facilities, Ferguson uses smart lockers from Apex Supply Chain Technologies for storing mobile devices, such as RF scanners and hip printers, according to Chris Everett, director of supply chain strategy. Before each shift, associates enter their own personal code to check out the devices that they need for the day. They then check the devices back into the lockers at the end of their shift.
Working with Apex, Ferguson modified this locker solution to be used for customers picking up orders. Because Ferguson’s products can vary in size from a piece of copper piping to a water heater, the lockers were replaced with a bigger cage setup. When customer make an order, they receive a QR code that they can then use to open up the cage. The self-service cages have made the pickup process more efficient and allow customers to pick up products outside of Ferguson’s normal operating hours.
The presentation can be accessed again on demand after April 19 for registered ProMat DX attendees. Interested participants can still register for show here.
(Apex Supply Chain Solutions, apexsupplychain.com)