By: Joel Gordon
I was reading an article in the newspaper a few days ago that detailed how one local repairman convinced the county government his business was essential, after they had originally said otherwise. It struck me that there is likely some master list somewhere with types of businesses deemed essential versus non-essential; it’s a reminder of what a strange time we’re living in.
Many of our customers are considered essential businesses – distributors relied upon for a variety of products, from HVAC to plumbing and electrical to utilities, and many in between. In some ways, this is positive, since shutting doors has not become the norm in our industry as it has for much of society at this time. However, this also puts employees at greater risk for catching coronavirus, interacting with their customers on a regular basis.
A few months ago, while talking with one of our Eclipse consulting customers, Johnstone Supply of Denver, we learned that they had completely reinvented – and almost entirely automated – their e-commerce strategy, implementing a contactless order pickup solution provided by Apex, which allows Johnstone’s customers to keep providing essential services.
Remember lockers? That sometimes-cramped, usually smelly (thanks old PBJ sandwich I forgot about) place where your high school textbooks spent most of their time? They’re back. But in a much better way, solving a problem that has long existed for distributors. As any distributor will agree, Eclipse customers have been searching for a more efficient way to facilitate e-commerce and after-hours transactions way before the spread of coronavirus became a concern. One of the cornerstones of Apex’s products is the deployment of a series of automated locker solutions that allow customers to securely access their order compartment(s) with a unique pick-up code.
Additional benefits of the Apex locker system include:
• Contactless handoff for both employee and customer safety and convenience
• 24/7 self-serve customer pick-up and returns
• Eliminating wait at service counter
• Track and automate data exchange during a single, unified transaction
• Made in the USA
• Constructed to resist rain, moisture, and extreme weather temperatures
In the following video, Johnstone Supply of Denver gives a deeper look into why they selected the Apex locker solutions and how quickly the lockers have made a huge difference in their operations.
“The word of the day is efficiency in our industry,” said Ben Callahan, who oversees ecommerce and marketing for Johnstone Supply in Denver. “With Apex's line of solutions, the possibilities are endless – from the dock to the door to the showroom to the warehouse, we're looking at the next evolution of that efficiency.”
Johnstone Supply of Denver was so forward-thinking in their e-commerce strategy that their new Apex lockers were in place well before COVID-19 was ever a part of everyday vernacular. Of course, because Johnstone Supply was an early adopter, they were also well-positioned to manage one of the major risks associated with the pandemic – stopping the spread by adhering to social distancing and contactless delivery standards. Not long after the lockers had been installed, Johnstone Supply of Denver approached Zerion about integrating the data transmitted to and from the Apex system with their Eclipse platform. Ensuring that the two systems were in lockstep, Zerion was able to ensure Johnstone’s inventory numbers matched what was entering and exiting the lockers in real-time.
I heard recently that some of Sir Isaac Newton’s most important inventions – including the discoveries of both calculus and the light spectrum – occurred while he was displaced from university, ‘sheltering at home’ for a year during the Great Plague of London in the 1600s. It is often during times of duress that we think up unique solutions to problems that we – or others – may be facing (yes, I also had a vision of MacGyver flash before my eyes as I wrote that). While Johnstone Supply had the foresight to install the Apex locker solutions before the coronavirus started spreading throughout the globe, they were well-positioned to use this business tool and the accompanying processes to succeed in an industry that’s coming to grips with a new normal.
What other innovations and practices will come out of what many will consider a challenging time in world history? It will be interesting to watch. If you find yourself or your business looking for a solution that can integrate with your existing Eclipse platform, we hope you know you can rely on Zerion to help make that integration happen. The functionality of your Eclipse system is only limited by how far you think it can take you, and I assure you, it can go far (sometimes with a little help from your partners at Zerion).
How can Zerion help you to become more efficient in the post-coronavirus age?