While it is too soon to tell how retailers will fair this holiday season, it is safe to assume that those who are online and have implemented Click & Collect and Curbside Pickup options are one step ahead, argues Bernardine Wu, Founder & CEO of FitForCommerce in the first of six monthly columns on the world of digital in the retail real estate industry.
Covid-19 has turned retail upside down. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, digital commerce growth was already outpacing overall retail growth in most parts of the world. Faced with closures, shelter in place orders and safety concerns, retailers were forced to further accelerate digital and omnichannel retail initiatives. The adoption of services such as Click & Collect or Buy Online/Pickup In-store (BOPIS) were already steadily increasing before the pandemic, but aside from grocery and select large retailers, curbside pickup was not even on the long-term roadmap for most retailers. Today, these services have leapt from nice-to-have differentiators to must-have survival capabilities for retailers, big and small.
The FitForCommerce Retail Index, a comprehensive benchmark of how retailers and brands meet customer expectations for digital and omnichannel retail, reveals a dramatic acceleration of the implementation of Click & Collect/BOPIS and Curbside Pickup services.
At the end of 2019, 66 percent of retailers offered Click & Collect/BOPIS services. Shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic started, the adoption increased to 76 percent.
Curbside pickup has gone from basically “zero to 60”. In 2019, just four percent of the retailers in the FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index offered curbside pickup, today the service is offered by 58 percent.
A recent eMarketer survey showed that retailers anticipate that Click & Collect sales will represent 50 per cent of total revenue in the not too distant future.
Implement it fast, but make sure it is executed well
The accelerated adoption of Click & Collect and Curbside Pickup is not surprising; it has simply become a retail necessity in order to stay in business in today’s environment.
At FitForCommerce, we recommend that retailers bring digital to the top of their priority list and invest in the implementation of Click & Collect and Curbside Pickup. They should implement these services fast, but it is important to also make sure they are implemented right and that the entire organization is aligned to ensure success. 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 pick-up, seamless implementation, inventory management and hassle-free experiences should be top of mind. This translates into a solid technology foundation, clear messaging about the availability of these services, clever use of inventory data, and communication about the service levels provided to meet or exceed customer expectations and avoid confusion. In other words, make sure you are not over-promising and under-delivering.
Best practices for optimal click and collect and curbsIde implementation include:
Make sure customers know what delivery and pickup services you offer and use it as a marketing tool. Surprisingly just 34 percent of retailers in the FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index promote Click & Collect options on the homepage.
Leverage inventory data to implement product filters to offer “Filter by Store Availability” on the 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 Click & Collect and Curbside orders.
Clearly communicate what customers can expect and 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 the store? 34 percent of retailers in the FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index include an FAQ section to answer these specific questions on their sites.
Department stores and large retailers are raising the bar on customer expectations. As shoppers get more accustomed to click & collect and curbside options, they expect more. A recent survey of top US retailers indicated that 79 percent of click & collect orders are generally ready in four hours, and shoppers that were notified within four hours, were 19 percent more likely to use the service again. Without question, the faster the order is ready, the better the customer experience.
Data suggests strong growth in demand for curbside pickup will continue into 2021. The fact that demand for curbside pickup has continued to increase even after the cessation of shelter-in-place orders, suggests that consumers have more fully adapted to this new shopping paradigm.
As we enter what is expected to be one of the most challenging holiday season of our time, the difference between those who offer click & collect and curbside pickup options and those who do not, will likely determine who will enter the New Year on the right track.