The COVID-19 pandemic has turned retail upside down. Pre-coronavirus, digital commerce was already outpacing overall retail growth. Services such as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) were steadily increasing, but aside from grocery and select big-box retailers, curbside pickup wasn’t even on the long-term road map for most retailers. Today, BOPIS and curbside pickup have leapt from nice-to-have differentiators to must-have survival capabilities for retailers big and small. Consider the following:
At the end of 2019, 66 percent of retailers offered BOPIS. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., the adoption of BOPIS increased to 76 percent.
Curbside pickup has gone from basically “zero to 60.” In 2019, just 4 percent of the retailers in the FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index offered curbside pickup; today, the service is offered by 58 percent.
Implement it Fast, But Make Sure it’s Executed Well
The accelerated adoption of BOPIS and curbside pickup isn’t surprising. At FitForCommerce, we recommend that our clients implement these services fast, however, it’s important to also get it right. The customer experience is paramount, and one bad experience can cost you a long-term loyal customer.
As retailers race to meet customer demands with in-store and curbside pickup, seamless implementation, inventory management and hassle-free experiences should be top of mind. This translates into clear messaging about the availability of BOPIS and curbside, clever use of inventory data, and communication about the service levels provided to set customer expectations and avoid confusion.
Best practices for optimal BOPIS and curbside implementation include the following:
Leverage inventory data to implement product filters to offer “Filter by Store Availability” on your website. Some retailers also offer the option to “show me what is available in my favorite store for pickup today.”
Provide clear instructions at checkout on when the order will be confirmed and instructions for what to do when arriving at the store for pickup.
Make the most of “recommended items” to drive up the average order value for BOPIS and curbside.
Clearly communicate what customers can expect, then deliver on that promise. How quickly will you confirm that the order is ready? When the customer gets to the store, how quickly will the order be ready? Can customers easily find the pickup location in the parking lot or in-store?
Get more insights on the adoption of digital and omnichannel capabilities across multiple verticals. Full report here.
About the Omnichannel Retail Index
The FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index takes the pulse of the state of digital commerce and omnichannel retail. The Index examines how 125 retailers perform against approximately 300 criteria across web, mobile and in-store. Through detailed and extensive mystery shopping conducted by FitForCommerce researchers, the Index depicts how leading U.S. retailers and brands are delivering on the omnichannel promise. For more information about the Omnichannel Retail Index criteria and to learn how your company stacks up, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Kimple is chief retail officer, FitForCommerce, a leading boutique consultancy that helps e-commerce and omnichannel businesses make smarter business decisions.