Castomats - parcel pick-up system for Castorama
Design and implementation of Castomats automation
Castorama is the largest chain of DIY shops in Poland and a leader in the construction and renovation sector. Its history on our market started in 1997 when the first store was opened in Warsaw. Today, Castorama has over 91 brick and mortar shops in Poland, employs 12,500 people, and offers over 50,000 products. And on top of that, it has one of the most modern e-commerce in its sector!
Challenges in the home improvement sector
The construction and renovation sector is very competitive, as it’s quite a challenge to find something that will distinguish the brand on the market. Shops in this segment tend to have a similar profile: large-format, warehouse-like shops combined with showrooms, with thousands of different products on offer. As a leader in the DIY sector, Castorama is constantly working to improve the experience of its customers even further. A great example of this is the headless e-commerce model implemented by Strix, which allows the shop's website to load faster.
Delivery - the highlight of the consumer experience
The e-commerce shopping path is the foundation of the consumer experience - it needs to be simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. The culmination, however, is only the delivery - the moment when the customer can finally enjoy their purchase. A well-thought-out delivery mechanism is the icing on the UX cake, and an unsuccessful one can spoil even the best experience, so the game is worth the candle. Castorama offers its customers the option of picking up their ordered products directly in-store or courier delivery, but something more was needed to stand out from the competition.
Castomats - free pick-up two hours after ordering
Castomats are lockers which enable customers to pick up orders from Castorama's online shop just two hours after purchase. If the client places the order besides shop opening hours, the products will be ready for collection the following day. The principle of the Castomats is similar to other lockers available on the market, but with a shorter delivery time and more capacity. Castomats are located at each Castorama store, outside the building, so they are available to customers 24/7. And even better, larger orders are immediately packed into a shopping trolley for a convenient drive to the car. From the moment the parcel is placed in Castomat, the customer has 48 hours to collect it. After this time, the order will still be waiting at the shop click & collect point for another five days.
Castorama's boxes are an excellent alternative to courier delivery. Instead of having to weave a courier visit into a busy schedule and waiting all day at home, the customers can go and pick up the parcel when it suits them best.
The implementation process
Castomats are available at all Castorama shops in Poland. The solution was introduced in May 2022 and is becoming increasingly popular - the Castomats receive 120-300 orders a day! In addition to Strix, two other companies worked on the project - Modern Expo and Mint Innovations. Each company was responsible for a different stage of implementation. At Strix, we developed the entire order flow, implemented API integration, created a custom database, and created a notification mechanism, QR code generator and automation.
Development of the flow
Castorama's ordering mechanism is higly automated to save customers and staff time. Our task was to adapt the new delivery option to the current order flow. We had to take into account the availability of Castomats at a given point and only allow the option to select a Castomat where the machine was already connected to the system (the machines appeared gradually, but are now available at every shop). We also used product algorithms that excluded certain items from being delivered to the locker, for example, due to size. Although Castomat's largest cell is really big and can hold an entire shopping trolley, some products, such as a kitchen worktop or shower cubicle, will be too big for it. With the right algorithm, once such products are selected, Castomat delivery becomes unavailable. Also excluded from the Castomat delivery offer are products that could be fragile or dangerous. The algorithm prevents you from ordering, for example, potted plants to the parcel machine that could wilt in the metal box during hot weather. It also excludes products with an ADR category, i.e. hazardous, such as solvents. Such products can only be collected directly from the shop.
Integration with API and database
At Strix, we also hooked up Castorama's online shop to an external API linked to the Castomat system. It was crucial for our client that only the necessary data, such as order number and status, was available to the external API. So we created a custom database with order statuses and numbers, the status of Castomats, i.e. information on which shop it is connected to, whether it is switched off, for example, due to maintenance, and how many boxes are free. Our database is the basis for an automated and efficient process.
The Castomat system is based on codes. Each code is an indication, for example, that an order has been placed in a box, picked up, or that the collection time has passed and the parcel has been transferred to the shop. At Strix, we have developed a system to interpret these codes and automatically send the relevant notifications. The notifications are used by customers and Castorama employees. Customers receive a message via SMS with the status of their order, for example, 'placed', 'in preparation', or 'ready to collect'. Employees receive information about the ordered products and the time remaining to place them in the Castomat. The system also sends a notification if the time for collection has passed or in case of a technical problem. Using a technical code, an employee can open the box without changing the status of the order or sending a notification to the customer. This is useful when a fault occurs, such as a locked box door or paint spilled inside the locker. This allows Castorama's team to fix the fault, but opening the door will not automatically send a pick-up notification.
QR code generator
To make the parcel collection process as fast and convenient as possible, Strix has developed a QR code generator. Customers and employees do not have to manually enter the order number and collection code on the Castomat terminal each time - all they need to do is scan an individual QR code, which the system will generate based on the numerical codes and assign to the corresponding action.
Castomats save customers and staff time because the process is fully automated. Updating the database, changing the status of orders, generating QR codes, sending notifications - all this is taken care of by the system. The only 'work' that customers and employees have to do is the physical contact with the product, i.e. placing and receiving the order from Castomat. The integration of the systems allows information to be exchanged instantly and the appropriate action to be taken, for example, the status of an order will automatically change from 'in preparation' to 'ready for collection' when the door of the Castomat closes behind the package. The customer also receives an immediate notification.
Testing custom solutions
The first Castomat was launched for customers in February 2022, and there are still many plans to develop and expand the solution. We have been working with Castorama for several years now and know the needs of the brand very well, so we act as trusted testers on the project. We check whether the customised solutions proposed for Castomat fit into the entire shopping flow and are functional and intuitive from the perspective of customers and employees.
Castomats - faster, cheaper, more convenient
Castorama cares about the customer experience right through to the end, not just at the stage of the shopping path. Castomats are the answer to the need for greater flexibility and convenience during delivery. The fully automated, lightning-fast process of updating data and sending notifications makes picking up orders easier than ever. What's more, the solution is so far only available in Poland! So we are pioneers in the area of alternative delivery methods at Castorama!
91 Castomats all over the country, 120-300 orders per day, parcels ready for collection in max. 2 hours, boxes available for customers 24/7. Castomats are a great solution for all those who appreciate a simple and express process of collecting their orders. We are very proud of the results of this project and are already looking forward to the next steps!
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