Omnichannel strategies have been crucial to retail previously, but providing customers BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) and curbside pickup service options is now essential. It’s no longer a nice-to-have for physical locations, it’s a must-have to continue to meet ever-changing consumer demands. In fact, as we start to come out of the pandemic, 87% of consumers say they want businesses to continue to offer options like curbside pickup.
Due to the numerous changes over the past year, including a need for digital offerings and contactless methods, curbside pickup services and the like soared into popularity. Many retailers adapted quickly to give consumers the options they needed at the time, and now that curbside is here to stay, it’s about providing the best curbside pickup experience possible.
Here are some best practices for nailing your curbside pickup and BOPIS strategy:
Analyze curbside data to improve customer satisfaction
It’s imperative to have the right data in place to improve customer satisfaction and to scale your curbside and in-store pickup services. Here are some of the data points you need to analyze to ensure the best experience possible:
Inventory data: First of all, the most critical part of a great experience is ensuring that you actually have the item in stock at the store for a customer to come pick up. If inventory data is not up-to-date at any given moment, you could not only be losing a sale - you could be losing a customer entirely. In fact, a recent study from PwC states 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. So make sure your technology and inventory management systems are updating in-real time.
Customer satisfaction data: What do customers love about your service, and what do they hate? How can you make small changes that immediately impact and improve the customer experience? A simple survey that includes an open field for comments via email after the service could be a great way to collect some of this feedback. You can then prioritize improvements by what is most negatively affecting your customers.
Lead time data: How long does it take for your store locations to fulfill a curbside or BOPIS order? How can you improve this time to fill? How can you optimize your workforce to improve this process? Ensuring that people can get the items they want and need in a reasonable amount of time is critical to an exceptional experience!
Taking time to look at your data and understand how it’s impacting your customer experience is a great way to keep the process running smoothly, and provide you with the insights to make enhancements.
Clearly communicate the curbside pickup process
Clear communication around the process with curbside has, and will continue to be, one of the most important aspects of your services. Even for repeat curbside customers, your pickup locations and processes are likely changing all the time, and it’s crucial you communicate this before, during, and after each service:
What can customers expect before arriving?
What part of the parking lot do they park for curbside pickup? Where in the store do they go for in-store pickup?
Do they need identification, an order number, or any other information to get the item?
How do they alert you they’ve arrived?
Is there a specific staff member they should look for, or an easy way to identify a team member helping with the curbside and BOPIS orders?
What should they do if no one comes out to their car or they can’t find a store associate to assist in-store?
Can they make any additional requests or orders at the time of pick up?
By establishing clear communication from the initial order confirmation email or notification, you can give your customers peace of mind when using your services.
Personalize your curbside services to exceed expectations
While curbside services picked up significantly over the past year, that doesn’t mean every single one of your customers was using it. Some customers have yet to try it! In the same regard, there are some customers who know exactly what to expect and are already planning their next curbside pickup order with you. That’s why it’s key to personalize services for each and every customer, including curbside beginners, repeaters, and loyalists.
- New curbside pickup customers:
For someone who hasn’t used your services before - even if they are familiar with your brick-and-mortar locations - your communication and messaging should be as clear and helpful as possible.
The focus should be on educating the customer, while alleviating any concerns over using the new service.
- Returning curbside pickup customers:
With returning curbside customers, you should personalize the communication before, during, and after the process to show them you are listening and that you care.
While you should still focus on communicating where to park, how the process works, and more, the goal should be to provide such a seamless experience that they turn into a curbside loyalist.
After they complete the pickup, be sure to send them a follow-up, personalized email recommending other products based on their previous purchases, and thanking them for their order and time.
- Curbside pickup loyalists:
How do you continue to meet and exceed the expectations of customers who love and continue to use BOPIS and curbside? How do you ensure they stay loyal?
Personalize their experience and reward their loyalty. Maybe offer a discount on their next curbside order, or give them additional program points when making curbside orders.
Offer curbside appointments for added convenience and reliability
As much as consumers love the convenience and instant gratification of curbside services, they also expect it to be seamless - sticking to a specific timeframe. Your consumers don’t only want on-demand, convenient services - they expect them too!
With appointments scheduling, your curbside customers can choose a time that’s best for them, versus scheduling a later time frame due staff availability and the number of orders coming in. It can help your team manage traffic flow and give more time to ensure accurate inventory counts, and to mitigate any issues before a customer arrives.
By setting realistic expectations with your customers, and being able to optimize your workforce with curbside appointment information that helps your team plan ahead, you can improve the entire process.
Continuously improve curbside pickup and BOPIS services
Like everything in the retail realm, there is always room for improvement! This goes hand-in-hand with the best practice of analyzing your data. As you continue to offer curbside and BOPIS services, be sure to make it a part of your strategy to continuously analyze the data and processes to identify areas for improvement. Continue to get customer feedback and look for ways to streamline. Ask questions such as:
What are our lead and wait times on curbside orders and appointments and how can we improve them?
How can you better promote these services on your website to make it easy for customers to find and use?
How can you use data to continue to have the most popular products in stock for this service?
How can you use data to personalize the experience for the various customers using this service?
Ideally, finding a way to make your services stand out, and provide the highest quality of service will ensure your curbside shoppers become loyal customers in no time.
And as a final note, if you aren’t offering curbside pickup services, now is the time! With 73% of U.S. consumers changing stores, brands, or the way they shop, and 43% of consumers saying they are willing to spend more on convenience in the future - curbside and in-store pickup services will be key to your omnichannel retail strategy.
It has become an expectation of many consumers, and if you don’t provide this service, the customers who have come to love this option will likely shop somewhere else. Plus, the benefits for your customers are undeniable: convenient, easy, fast, and safe! And while digital banking and online shopping are also on the rise, there will always be customers who want the option of an on-demand service like curbside.
Want to learn more? Check out our blog post on how to personalize curbside for first-time curbside customers, returning customers, and curbside loyalists!
About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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