Consumer Demand for BOPIS and Virtual Service Increases in Light of COVID-19
With COVID-19 causing the majority of retailers to close up shop, and drastic social distancing measures required for those that remain open, many consumers have put a stop to all unnecessary outings and are looking to their favorite brands for remote service and support during this difficult time.
In a new Qudini survey of 2,000-plus respondents throughout the U.S., we asked consumers how they're interacting with retailers during COVID-19. We discovered some interesting insights into what exactly they want from brands, both now and in the future.
Americans Are Eliminating or Heavily Reducing All 'Non-Essential' Trips to Stores
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the shopping behaviors of U.S. consumers, with 30 percent fully eliminating non-essential trips to stores and other public places, and an additional 52 percent heavily reducing trips.
All stores deemed non-essential have closed, but many are avoiding or reducing trips to stores that remain open. Grocery stores are the least avoided, with only 14 percent avoiding trips. However, 67 percent are reducing visits as much as possible.
In comparison, 30 percent of consumers are avoiding trips to pharmacies, and 52 percent are avoiding banks, which is similar to the proportion of consumers avoiding doctors clinics at 56 percent.
Interestingly, similar patterns emerged before any official lockdowns came into place, with many respondents changing their shopping behaviors and demonstrating concerns about social distancing. On average, 75 percent to 85 percent of the usual customers at non-essential retail stores were avoiding visits.
As the lockdown restrictions ease, these insights suggest consumers will still be cautious about visiting stores. To build customer confidence, retailers will need to enhance their customer management processes.
Some retailers are enabling in-store social distancing by controlling store footfall with appointment scheduling software that enables customers to plan their visits and virtual queue management software to manage walk-in customer journeys within their stores.
Consumers Want Virtual Service From Retailers During COVID-19
Instead of visiting a store and placing themselves at risk, many consumers want access to virtual service by phone or video from retailers during the coronavirus outbreak.
For essential retail types (pharmacies, grocery stores, banks), more than half (53 percent) of respondents want service by phone, and nearly a fifth (18 percent) want service by video. And for non-essential retailers, a proportion of respondents (especially younger respondents) said they want virtual service by phone (18 percent) or video (11 percent).
To cater to this demand, many retailers have started serving customers at home with virtual one-to-one appointments by phone and video, as well as with online events. And with younger demographics twice as likely to want service by video as baby boomers, we could see this demand extend beyond the realms of COVID-19.
Two-Thirds of Consumers are 'More Likely' to Use BOPIS Services
To reduce their risk of exposure to the pandemic, many consumers are more likely to use buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) services during COVID-19. Just over three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents said they’ve used BOPIS services before, yet only 14 percent do so frequently.
However, 67 percent of respondents said they're more likely to use BOPIS services at essential stores, and 50 percent said they’re more likely to use BOPIS services at non-essential stores, during COVID-19
Interestingly, half (53 percent) of baby boomers stated that they’re more likely to use BOPIS services during the coronavirus outbreak, despite only 4 percent being frequent users. This suggests that if retailers offered a good pick-up experience, the pandemic could act as a catalyst for older consumers to convert to digital shopping methods, leading to omnichannel growth.
To help limit the time BOPIS customers need to spend in-store, a number of retailers are implementing initiatives such as curbside collection, virtual queueing, and time slot-allocated collection times.
We’ll be presenting these insights in detail to those who attend our upcoming webinar.
Imogen Wethered is CEO and co-founder of Qudini, a global B-to-B SaaS provider of retail choreography solutions, including software for appointment scheduling, queue management, task management and event bookings.
Imogen Wethered is CEO and Co-Founder of Qudini, a global B2B SaaS provider of Retail Choreography solutions, including software for: Appointment Scheduling, Queue Management, Task Management and Event Bookings.
Passionate about business, fintech, retail and brands, Imogen is a thought-leader within retail, banking and the business world, and has been recognized for her achievements on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.