24/7 Ecommerce Order Pickup is a Win for Johnstone Supply

by | Oct 18, 2021 | Case Study, B2B Ecommerce

Customer using ecommerce order pickup lockers at Johnstone Supply

Self-serve order pickup lockers help busy contractors stay productive and avoid lines.

Ecommerce order pickup: a growing opportunity in HVACR

In the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) business, contractors know they’ll be busy in summer and winter. Another thing they can count on? When the weather’s bad, they’ll be working nights and weekends to keep up with all the repair calls to fix busted furnaces or air conditioners.

In Denver, HVACR distributor Johnstone Supply experiences this “feast or famine” as well. During cold snaps or heat waves, they’ll often have more than a dozen employees working at their service counter to handle the rush of contractors. Other employees are taking orders on the phone all day. But in recent years, many of those orders have been coming in through Johnstone’s ecommerce website and mobile app.

Fast and easy ecommerce ordering

Ecommerce has been a huge time-saver for contractors who want to avoid downtime spent waiting to be helped in the showroom. Instead, they order online and their items are waiting for them when they arrive.

Johnstone Supply knew their ecommerce program had big potential. “Having that ecommerce growth is instrumental to our overall growth as a company,” said Ben Callahan, ecommerce and promotions manager. A good ecommerce system also helps set them apart from their competitors and attract new customers.

When pickup hits a speed bump

There was just one concern with Johnstone Supply’s ecommerce program: During peak times, customers weren’t getting the fast, easy order pickup they expected. They still had to go into the busy showroom and wait for someone to bring them their order.

Johnstone wanted to help contractors save time while reducing congestion at its service counter. For Callahan, the obvious choice was ecommerce order pickup lockers, which were becoming increasingly popular at major home centers and other retailers.

Do-it-yourself ecommerce order pickup

Callahan heard about another Johnstone Supply location that had introduced Ecommerce Order Pickup  Lockers from Apex Order Pickup Solutions. They provide fast, self-serve pickup for contractors, and are easy to integrate with existing software and workflows. They also use a cloud-based data platform that provides real-time information on order loading and pickup activity.

Callahan worked with his Apex sales rep to configure an initial system that provided a variety of compartment sizes based on the company’s most frequently ordered products. Soon, Johnstone Supply had introduced four Axcess™ 6800 Lockers on their loading dock to provide quick, 24/7 access for customers.

As the new service caught on, more contractors discovered how quickly they could pull up, scan their order code, take their order and be on their way. Within a few short months, demand for self-serve pickup was so high that sometimes there was a wait for locker compartments. Since the solution is easily scalable, Johnstone could quickly add two additional lockers.

Lockers and cages outside Johnstone Supply

A combination of smart lockers and cages provides greater capacity for large or bulky orders.

Valuable new order pickup data revealed

Next, Johnstone found that more contractors were requesting self-serve pickup for large equipment, like furnaces and compressors. Callahan made a call to his Apex sales rep to discuss his options, and soon added two ICS™ 1000 Cage Solutions next to the lockers. The ICS cage provides a secure, self-serve solution for both big equipment orders and large quantities of smaller supplies. In the first 10 months, Johnstone’s Ecommerce Order Pickup Solution had handled more than 2,000 pickup orders, proving that there was an unmet need for serving busy HVACR contractors who didn’t have time to wait.

During some particularly nasty weather in the fall, Johnstone received more than 300 ecommerce orders in just one month. According to Callahan, “Those 300 customers were in and out and back on the job. That helps them with their first-time call completion rates…and it’s going to help them increase their bandwidth.”


In 10 months, the Ecommerce Pickup Locker system handled more than 2,000 orders. 

Demand for after-hours order pickup

Another advantage for Johnstone’s customers is they can pick up their order whenever their schedule has a break. Since working nights and weekends is often the norm, they can’t always make it to the showroom during regular hours. Now, they can place an ecommerce order or order by phone, choose “locker pickup,” and swing by at night or early in the morning before their first job.

“We’re seeing about 25% of our pickups outside regular business hours. Before, we would have an emergency opening guy stay after to help them with their product. This gives them a safe, secure method for after-hours pickup,” said Callahan.


This gives them a safe, secure method for after-hours pickup.

– Ben Callahan

More reasons to expand the program

Now that ecommerce customers are picking up their orders on the dock, walk-in customers are enjoying fewer lines and faster service in the showroom. In addition, the ecommerce pickup lockers have reduced pressure on employees working at the service counter, allowing them to spend more time consulting with customers who need help.

Johnstone is evaluating other ways they might use Apex self-serve solutions to increase efficiencies and reduce costs across the operation. Callahan said, “With Apex’s line of solutions, the possibilities are endless. From the dock to the door to the showroom to the warehouse, we’re going to look at the next evolution.”

Learn more about Apex B2B Ecommerce Order Pickup Lockers and get in touch to find out how easy it is to get started.