Cameras add a sense of safety for customers and help identify bad actors.

Food lockers are shaping up to be the next major trend in the world of quick-service restaurants. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mainstreaming of mobile ordering and third-party delivery services, quick-service operators have been searching for more efficient ways to handle pickups. Many brands—including Del Taco—began testing food lockers in select locations.

Del Taco’s first food locker prototype opened in December 2021 in Orlando, Fla., and over the past year, the brand has continued to roll out food lockers in other stores. Today, there are four Del Taco locations in the U.S. with food lockers.

Right now, many customers and third-party delivery drivers who pick up an order from a Del Taco food locker are still encountering one for the first time. It’s critical to ensure this first experience is positive, of course, and the brand has seen encouraging results so far. “Food lockers are gaining momentum and have been met with open arms,” says Kevin Pope, vice president of operations innovation at Del Taco. “We have to teach drivers and customers how to use them because they’re just so new—every time we open food lockers in a new location, it is a new experience. But it’s a short learning curve. Drivers and guests seem to adapt pretty quickly.”

In order to innovate, brands must be willing to experiment, and Del Taco was able to quickly understand what type of environment surrounding the food lockers would have the best impact on customers. “This was a new experience for us with an entirely new technology piece,” Pope says. “We started without cameras, honestly, but we soon found that it benefits everybody to make sure the space is bright and has plenty of visible cameras. Think of an automated teller machine—the safer and more functional it becomes, the more people will use it and feel comfortable.”

Cultivating a sense of safety and security among customers is important to the brand. “Adding lockers with cameras are differentiators for us,” Pope says. “They tell our guests that we’re serious about delivery and pick-up, and that we want to get the food to everybody safely and accurately.” 

Del Taco partners with Envysion for its managed video software, and went back to the company when it became clear that food lockers would also need real-time insights by syncing the cameras and POS data. “Envysion continues to provide great observation and placement recommendations,” Pope says. “They give us visibility to view the order being placed inside the locker and an outside camera to verify order pickup. We can watch the complete order loop. If unacceptable activity occurs at the outside pickup location, we have the ability to flag the incident and easily give access to law enforcement if requested. Envysion are experts at integrating data solutions and using cameras to their full potential to help mitigate loss.” 

In addition to the element of safety, security cameras placed strategically around the food locker area have helped Del Taco track orders more efficiently. They show who picks up each order, with validation of transaction data allowing Del Taco to partner with delivery service providers (DSPs) in identifying drivers who don’t play by the rules. “There are bad actors everywhere, but if we can help weed some of that out by working with DSPs, it’s a win for everybody,” Pope says.

To learn more about using video surveillance with food lockers, visit Envysion’s website.


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