How Brands Are Creating Successful Contactless Shopping Experiences During COVID-19
Faced with rising COVID-19 case numbers across the country, many consumers planned to visit fewer retail stores this past holiday season than any year on record. As a result, online and contactless shopping experiences — e.g., buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), curbside, and delivery services — have become the new normal. Ten months into the pandemic, the retail industry has done its best to implement these practices with varying levels of success. However, has the industry risen to the occasion and have their consumers noticed? Ipsos recently released a report to answer those very questions.
Ipsos’ inaugural E-Commerce Experience Report surveyed 2,000 Americans about their shopping preferences and sent out thousands of mystery shoppers to measure the performance of brands nationwide. The survey concluded that consumers are widely happy with contactless shopping, and that their use of BOPIS and curbside pickup has increased by 78 percent since COVID-19 began.
When it comes to specific brand performance in the grocery industry, Walmart ranked highest for its BOPIS service, Sam’s Club for its curbside pickup, and H-E-B for its delivery option.
- Walmart performed the strongest across all measured attributes for BOPIS, particularly at directing consumers to the grocery pickup area. The retailer had clear and readily visible signage in 86 percent of the locations we audited.
- Sam’s Club’s success in curbside pickup came as a result of its consistent and easily accessible designated parking spots for customers — which the retailer provided at 100 percent of the locations our shoppers visited.
- H-E-B won in the delivery category due to its 99 percent accuracy rate on orders across all of the locations we tested.
- Target posted clear, visible signage directing consumers to the in-store pickup area at 83 percent of its locations.
Ipsos’ report also had some broader conclusions about the retail industry that every retailer, large and small, would benefit from.
- Contactless shopping is here to stay. Sixty-nine percent of consumers expect to continue using it at the same or higher levels even after the pandemic subsides. A smooth, painless, contactless shopping experience will become a baseline expectation among consumers and essential for a successful retail business.
- Clear communication is the most important aspect of successful pickup and delivery, yet more than 25 percent of our mystery shoppers saw room for improvement in communication for these services.
- In pickup specifically, retailers need to offer dedicated curbside parking sites and put up prominent signage to make it easier for customers. Twenty-seven percent of BOPIS locations visited by our mystery shoppers were poorly marked or difficult to find.
- Customer satisfaction — a foundational concern for retail — was contingent on order accuracy. This represents the largest area for improvement for the retail industry. Nine percent of Ipsos’ survey respondents said their order wasn’t accurate. The lower retailers can get that number, the more likely they are to retain their customers’ business.
The retail sector has already made great strides adapting to this pandemic and shifting consumer behavior, but there's still more room to grow. Retailers will have to invest in a seamless contactless shopping experience if they want their customers to feel satisfied and safe. Ipsos conducted Wave 2 of the E-Commerce Experience Report to see which brands have successfully bolstered their contactless shopping experiences. You can see those findings here.
If you’re interested in learning more, the full report is available here.
Carlos Aragon, vice president, client success, has been with Ipsos since 2012, managing a variety of custom and tracking programs in mystery shopping, customer experience, and brand health for clients in the technology, telecom, financial services, retail, and automotive sectors.
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Carlos Aragon, Vice President Client Success, has been with Ipsos since 2012, managing a variety of custom and tracking programs in mystery shopping, customer experience, and brand health for clients in the technology, telecom, financial services, retail, and automotive sectors.
Carlos leads a team of experienced research consultants who seek to maximize the business impact and influence of their clients.