retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Business Insider reports that as number of fast food chains - including KFC, Burger King, and Smashburger - have "announced plans to bring food lockers to their restaurants," seeing the concept as "a contactless way for customers to collect food."

According to the story, "Though some restaurant chains already had them in the works pre-pandemic, many have pivoted to food lockers over the past year, as they focus on new methods for delivery and collection.  Customers can order food in advance online or via the restaurant's app and then pick it up from the locker.  Food delivery drivers can also use the lockers to collect orders."

Business Insider notes that "The trend has been around for way longer than the pandemic, and isn't just being used by restaurants.

"Food lockers, in their most basic sense, are devices that are used to store food, often for customers to collect. In this way, they're a little like the Amazon Lockers located in neighborhoods, apartment blocks, and inside stores.

"The lockers vary in size, and they can be different temperatures, too. Some are heated, while others are chilled, to keep food at the right temperature until customers can collect them. More high-tech models even use UV light to kill bacteria."

KC's View:

I find myself wondering if this trend actually could play to Amazon's advantage.

If fast food restaurants (and some fast-casual restaurants) are beginning to adopt the locker system, I wonder if Amazon might be interested in engineering these food-centric lockers, co-brand them with different restaurant brands … and then also use them for delivery of other Amazon orders.  (I order something from Amazon and set it up so that I can pick up the order from a locker where I'm also picking up tonight's dinner.)

It also could work the other way - restaurants with an Amazon relationship might be able to make their products available for pickup from some Amazon locker installations … bringing those restaurants potentially closer to a subset of their customer base, making them a preferred and more convenient option.

As I let my imagination run wild on this, I also find myself thinking about all those gray Amazon vans wandering so many places …. and wondering if Amazon would find a way to make some of them available for restaurant deliveries.  After all, it seems likely that before long Amazon will start making deliveries for non-Amazon retailers, just as a way of further amortizing its fulfillment-oriented investments and undercutting the likes of FedEx and UPS.  So why not delivering pizzas after hours?

I could be wrong on all this.  I must concede that I have limited knowledge of Amazon's R&D process.  But if Amazon does want to define itself as being inextricably entwined in customers' lives, this is one way to do so.  And, when you think about it, is any of this less likely than drone deliveries?