DURHAM – The QuickCollect GO! POD, launched this week by Durham-headquartered Bell and Howell, is a robotic e-commerce tool the company describes as a “store in a box.”

In a statement, the company described its product as an opportunity for businesses to open new models to drive customer engagement and sales, allowing for drive-up automated pickup at remote sites.

One use case the company noted that its product was suited to meet was for grocery-specific needs, noting that configurations can be added “to address frozen and refrigerated temperature control requirements.”

The pitch: convenience for customers.

The QuickCollect GO! POD™ uses patent-pending, next-generation automation, and intelligent software, the company stated.  Because of this underlying technology, the company is betting that its product will meet the market at a time when many retail stores are experiencing labor shortages or increased costs due to labor market, supply chain disruptions, or inflationary pressures.

“Retailers recognize that consumer convenience, fulfillment efficiency, and brand reach are critical to the next level of e-commerce,” said Larry Blue, president and CEO of Bell and Howell in a statement.  “Our new solution allows an associate to load orders in seconds, freeing them up for other tasks, while the internal automation allows a consumer to retrieve their order quickly without interrupting store operations.”

Here’s how it works, according to the company.

First, orders are placed.  Then, an associate can load orders into the QuickCollect GO! POD™.  Once loaded, customers can pick up their orders seamlessly using a unique code to access the QuickCollect GO! POD™ and their order.

The QuickCollect GO! POD™ can also serve as “an intelligent hub for local delivery partner pickups while multiple portal configurations expand capacity for high volume simultaneous processing,” the company stated.

“Our data reflects how much consumers enjoy the convenience and consistent speed we can deliver in the QuickCollect GO! POD™,” said Blue.

The QuickCollect GO! POD™ product is supported by the company’s QuickCollect™ Solutions technology, as well, the company noted, adding that there are already more than 1,800 deployments of the software solution designed to enhance e-commerce fulfillment operations.

Blue joined the company and was named COO in August 2014, and was later named president and CEO.  The company was formed in 2011, as Versus Capital bought the assets of Böwe Bell + Howell.  In June 2014, the company spun off a software company, the sale of which allowed the company to erase its outstanding debt.  The company then added $25 million in revolving credit in 2015.