While most people like the convenience of using the drive-thru at fast-food restaurants, the concept gained traction with other establishments due to COVID-19. This past April, Adobe Analytics reported that curbside pickup increased 208 percent. Buy Online Pickup at Curbside (BOPAC) is now a service that consumers have come to expect when doing business with home improvement retailers and garden centers.
Many businesses offer curbside pickup as a temporary solution that can be discontinued after the pandemic is over. However, the concern about health and safety practices at businesses will modify consumers’ long-term behavior. According to a survey conducted by Medallia Zingle, a technology company, 87 percent of respondents want businesses to continue curbside pickup and any other processes that reduce the need for in-person visits.• 79 percent of respondents seek out information about health and safety measures businesses have in place before doing business with them• 77 percent of respondents consider the need for in-person contact before visiting a business
Change in Shopping Habits
During the shutdown order, people who seldom had products delivered or used curbside pickup took advantage of these services. Now, these new practices have become habits some plan to continue.• 54 percent of respondents have changed their shopping habits• 25 percent plan to rely on delivery and curbside pickup exclusively• 36 percent of Gen Z respondents are more likely to opt for curbside pickup compared to 31 percent of Millennials
3-Steps to Improve the Experience
It is up to retailers to put practices in place that ensure customers have a positive BOPAC experience. This means communicating the correct information to customers before they arrive at the store and updating them on what to expect and where they should go upon arrival. When things go smoothly, these shoppers are highly likely to repeat the process and use curbside pickup in the future.
However, 45 percent of those who responded to the Medellia Zingle survey said their experiences with curbside pickup were “somewhat rocky, or they received poor service.” Here are steps every retailer can take to ensure their BOPAC service consistently meets customers’ high expectations from beginning to end.
1. Practice 2-way Communication. Customers don’t like surprises, and the more retailers can communicate with customers about curbside pick up the better. Providing e-mail notifications to alert customers when orders are ready takes the guesswork out of the process. The e-mail should also include a link that allows the customer to click from their phone to notify the retailer they are curbside. This will save them the trouble of making a phone call after they are parked. Send confirmation when the pickup is complete, and remember to thank customers for their business.
2. Train and Equip Store Associates. It’s essential to empower store associates to make decisions that enable them to adjust to new situations during pickup or accommodate a change in the original order. This helps ensure that orders are processed quickly and efficiently with few disruptions. It’s vital that customers feel confident that their needs are being met from the time they order online until they drive away with the order. This may mean accommodating altered demands, last-minute phone calls, or a random e-mail. Customers expect that the store associate has received the information and that everything will be in order before they arrive. Well-trained associates will ensure that the pickup area runs smoothly and that customers are satisfied with the experience.
3. Stay Connected by Offering Incentives. After engaging customers during curbside pickup, retailers should maintain the relationship by sending customers updates about new products and special offers. Personalize the interaction by recommending products relevant to the customer and motivating them to place another BOPAC order. Retailers may also consider offering a small incentive for posting a curbside review online. This response will increase the business’s visibility online and let shoppers know curbside service is available.
Retailers should consider BOPAC to be an essential part of the overall customer experience. The process connects online sales to the brick-and-mortar business and offers establishments another opportunity to increase profits. There has been a drastic shift in customer behavior in the past year. According to the Medellia Zingle survey, 78 percent of respondents visited a business at least three times a week before the pandemic, which has now dropped to 34 percent. Retailers committed to making curbside pickup a successful operation recognizes that health and safety are primary concerns determining where consumers will shop.