Coronavirus is impacting every corner of the retail world: from big box stores and grocers to small local stores and chains. Retailers have had to work at unprecedented speeds to adapt to this challenge. And in just a few short weeks, retailers responded in new and innovative ways by adjusting inventory, labor, and store operations to meet their customers’ needs.
These store operations changes include increased use of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup services. Curbside pickup has emerged as a breakthrough customer service star during this crisis and while curbside pickup certainly isn’t a new service, it has become a great way to help customers feel more safe when they shop and for retailers to deliver their goods safely. BOPIS can help retailers compensate for reduced foot traffic by accelerating their online and curbside fulfillment options and can give retailers the flexibility they may need to serve their customers if social distancing guidelines change in the future.
Here are three reasons why retailers of any size should consider using curbside pickup services:
Encourage contactless shopping
For customers who value physically visiting brick-and-mortar stores but can’t or don’t want to shop in-person, curbside pickup is a safe and convenient option. While the way that the retailer moves merchandise from the store to the customers’ car varies, a curbside pickup option can help encourage social distancing and reduce person-to-person contact by removing the touchpoints of a traditional in-store shopping experience. Paying in advance is another big part of reducing the number of physical touches during a transaction.
Deliver frictionless shopping experiences
Customers love using BOPIS because it’s a convenient way to buy. While shoppers across generations prefer to shop in stores and are more than willing to move seamlessly between channels, they also value a smooth shopping experience. With curbside pickup, customers can receive their purchases quickly and safely.
Offer customers flexible ways to shop
Using curbside pickup services, retailers can create stores in which customers can shop and know their needs will be met, even if those needs change each time they visit - and even if the customer never sets foot inside the store. So whether a customer is in a rush, has a car full of young children or has disabilities that can make in-store shopping difficult, curbside pickup is another opportunity to make customers feel catered to and cared for.
As communities around the world are working towards loosening stay-at-home orders and continuing to reopen non-essential businesses, consumer shopping habits may not immediately rebound to pre-COVID levels. Specialty retailers and hospitality businesses that are limited by the number of people in a store at a time will especially need to embrace alternative shopping options to survive. Retailers need to find ways to inspire customers’ confidence in them by ensuring that they can shop safely and conveniently. And for customers who are slowly returning to in-store shopping, curbside services can help them feel safe in making the transition to physical shopping again.