Since the pandemic, Curbside Pickup and Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) have become two very important capabilities for businesses. With all of the different rules and regulations in place (social distancing, store capacity limits, businesses shutting back down, etc.) companies need a different way to meet their customer’s needs with as minimal contact as possible.
Curbside Pickup and BOPIS have been around for a while but recently have become essential for businesses to function. Take this past year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday for example, Sensormatic Solutions cited that foot traffic in U.S. stores was down 52%. But, Salesforce reported that U.S. retailers that offered curbside, drive-through, and in-store pickup options increased digital revenue by 29% on average compared to last Cyber Week. We live in an instant gratification world which has forced retailers to adapt these capabilities in order to continue doing business and meeting their customer’s needs.
BOPIS is an additional fulfillment option that can be selected during the checkout process. Customers can add items to their cart online and complete the checkout process as normal, but choose to pick up their order in-store. Once their entire order is prepared, they will typically receive a notification when their order is ready and they can go ahead and pick it up. This can be from a customer service desk, but some retailers have installed no-touch, self-serve lockers to make these transactions truly contact-free.
BOPIS includes multi-store inventory. If one store is out of an item you want, multi-store inventory allows you to select another store, which may be further away but allows you to get the product you want immediately. Another option of multi-store inventory is when one store is out of the product you are searching for, the item can be shipped from a store that does have it to be picked up, or just shipped to your home if you are willing to wait. BOPIS still requires the customer to physically go in the store, which historically has been beneficial. According to Forrester, upsell and cross-sell strategies are responsible for an average of 10-30% of ecommerce business revenues, which boosts AOV.
Curbside pickup is exactly what it sounds like, a pick up from outside of a place of business. This allows retailers to provide a similar experience to fast-food industry drive-thrus. This service enables customers to purchase their groceries – for example – online and then pull up to the store in a designated pickup area and have their groceries placed in their car for them without coming in direct contact with anyone, or even getting out of the car. Curbside Pickup includes multi-store inventory just like BOPIS does.
PROS AND CONS OF BOPIS AND CURBSIDE PICKUP
For brands, these two options decrease shipping costs, promote full utilization of inventory, and attract customers by providing more than one fulfillment option. On the flip side, this poses an array of challenges such as an increased need for in-store associates, retraining associates on the new protocols, the need for flawless implementation, and the necessity of keeping inventory updated accurately and in real-time.
For the customers, this offers added value. They’re introduced to a level of convenience that not every store offers. They save time by not having to physically shop for themselves, as well as saving money on potential shipping costs. Plus, they can check for the accuracy of their items before leaving the store as well as not having to worry about “porch pirates” potentially stealing the items they ordered to their house.
IMPLEMENTING BOPIS AND CURBSIDE QUICKLY AND EFFICIENTLY
Implementing BOPIS and Curbside can feel like a huge undertaking, but there are a few best practices that can help make the experience a bit more seamless.
Build on top of your existing ecommerce experience:
- Make sure your site is modified for these changes
- Update your overall messaging to let your customers know about these different fulfillment options across all channels
- Make BOPIS and curbside a clear and simple part of your checkout experience
- Enable a seamless backend pickup experience. Provide customers simple options like “pick up in-store” or “pick up curbside” for clarity
- Clearly communicate where customers need to go to collect their items (proper signage indoors and outdoors, clear parking spaces, detailed directions)
- Effectively communicate realistic pickup times (email, text, phone call)
- Real-time inventory visibility to prevent out-of-stock items from being promised and purchased
- Accurate, up-to-date product information on your website
- Training of both front and back end staff to adapt to new processes
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
For a number of clients, we’ve done rapid sprint projects to get these capabilities up and running. All of our clients face different business challenges, but have the same goal of providing a safer, more efficient way for their customers to purchase from them. We provided some use cases of successful BOPIS and Curbside implementations.
– Although a regional wine and spirits retailer was deemed an essential business, they wanted to provide a better, safer option for their customers. The sale of wine, spirits, and beer has skyrocketed over the past year, and implementing a BOPIS and Curbside option only helped further facilitate an increase in revenue and transactions for this midwest chain.
– A stationary and gift retailer has had their stores shut down multiple times because they are not considered an essential business. BOPIS and Curbside have become fundamental for this business to operate in the current environment. Having to shift and rely heavily on their ecommerce channel resulted in an increase in new users and ecommerce conversion rate.
– A gourmet specialty chocolatier’s business is primarily driven by tourists. With travel restrictions and shutdowns, this chocolatier needed more options to serve their customers. By implementing curbside pickup, they were able to increase their conversion rate and number of transactions which in turn, offset the lack of in-person visitors.
BOPIS AND CURBSIDE PICKUP ARE HERE TO STAY
Certainly, the pandemic has moved BOPIS and Curbside into the mainstream, but these capabilities are here to stay. Businesses are starting to realize that convenience is a part of delivering an exceptional customer experience. Providing more fulfillment options can boost new customer acquisition, and prevent existing customers from defecting to competitors. The accelerated push for these functionalities is a good thing and will continue to force businesses to implement these capabilities and then look for ways to iterate to make themselves more efficient and differentiated from others.