In today’s evolving retail climate, consumers are straying from shopping exclusively in-store or online. Instant gratification, control and face-to-face customer experiences entice consumers to still shop in physical stores. Yet, the convenience of online shopping was a primary factor in e-commerce sales increasing by 15 percent in 2018. As customers incorporate both shopping methods into their journeys, retailers should embrace an important reality: omnichannel isn’t just the future; it's already here. If you're not onboard, there's no time better than now to start adopting it.
Letting shoppers buy items online and physically pick up orders in-store is an important option that leading retailers now offer. In light of this trend, we conducted a study with 300 secret shoppers. It evaluated shopping experiences from beginning-to-end across 10 of the largest retailers in the U.S. The BOPIS: State of the Industry report looks at buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), also known as click and collect, through the lens of customer experience. From these omnichannel journeys, a few key lessons emerged.
Place Pickup Desks at the Front of the Store
Until recently, retailers preferred placing BOPIS pickup points at the back of the store. This was done to spark consumers’ interest in buying more goods as they walked to the pickup location. However, the research reveals that customers prefer to collect items at the front of the store. In fact, in-store pickup use with shoppers older than 55 drops up to 75 percent when pickup desks are at the back of a store. Fortunately, eight out of the 10 retailers observed had pickup locations at the front of the store. In fact, the highest-scoring retailers had dedicated pickup areas within 30 feet of the store entrance.
Create Well-Staffed Collection Locations
Customers using BOPIS also want store staff to be help them as soon as they arrive in-store — that is if no automated pickup is available. The research shows the lowest-scoring retailers had collection desks staffed only 57 percent of the time. Clearly there's room for improvement, even among practiced retailers. For store managers and customers alike, staffed pickup desks speed up the process when no self-service pickup options are offered. Attentive associates can also answer questions and help customers, improving the experience.
Ensure Goods Are Ready for Customers
Whether an item is ready when promised is crucial to making or breaking customer loyalty. On a scale of zero to five, the pickup experience averaged a 4.6 when merchandise was available at the counter upon arrival. However, this average dropped to 3.7 when the item wasn't ready. Additionally, the speed in which a shopper receives notifications affects their overall satisfaction. The secret shoppers were 19.2 percent more "likely to use the service at that retailer again" for retailers with less than four-hour notifications. To fulfill orders faster, retailers should be looking for top-of-the line order management capabilities with pick, pack and verify features.
Ensure Fast Pickup With No Lines
To meet customers’ expectation for fast pickup, avoiding pickup lines altogether is ideal. As such, pickup automation, like that of pickup lockers, can achieve both. Technologies can help eliminate pickup lines and enable pickup in seconds, not minutes.
Overall, speed and convenience are the prevailing components found among successful BOPIS programs. Speed of order readiness and notifications alerting customers in real time proves a retailer’s care for a customer's needs, earning loyalty in the process. With an efficient supply chain and distributed order management system in place, retailers can deliver on the need for speed.
Charles Dimov is the vice president of marketing at OrderDynamics, a retail order management system. Brian Irish is the vice president of marketing at Bell & Howell, a provider of innovative service and technology solutions.
Related story: It’s an Omnichannel World … But Not So Much in the U.S.