Curbside Is More Than a Fulfillment Option—It’s a New Customer Experience

July 17, 2020
 
BOPAC curbside distributed order management system

Since March, stores have had to close, limit customers, and scale back hours to adhere to COVID-19 regulations. At the same time, customers have sheltered in place, and have been eager to adopt safe shopping habits. Enter BOPAC (buy online, pickup curbside) a valuable fulfillment option that has allowed thousands of stores to continue serving customers while practicing social distancing.

Curbside pickup is not just a niche trend to sustain retailers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adobe Analytics reports that curbside surged 208% in the first three weeks in April compared to the year before. Even as some stores reopen, other regions are tightening restrictions, and customers continue to be cautious, which means that BOPAC will be here to stay for quite some time. And signs indicate that customers have embraced the option for good. A recent survey shows that 86% of consumers want local businesses to continue curbside pickup even after the pandemic is over.

With that in mind, it’s important to think about BOPAC beyond the logistics of setting up a curbside instance. Think carefully about creating the best possible customer experience to maximize what should be a short and sweet interaction with valuable customers.

Optimized Two-Way Communication 

BOPAC in its current form might be new to many retailers, but it’s also new to a lot of customers. Create communications to prepare a BOPAC customer with the right information before they arrive, such as:

  1. The time window when they can come
  2. What they can expect
  3. Exactly where they should go

The more information customers have throughout their experience, the more likely they are to shop with you again. Even seemingly small differences matter a lot. For example, explaining exactly where to drive up and park can reduce stress and time taken to pick up an order. Office Depot not only provides notification that an order is ready, but also has a button that a customer can click from their phone when they are in the parking lot, saving them from having to make a phone call. 

Trigger notifications to your customers and keep them updated from the moment they place their order till they’ve safely picked up their purchase. And after they’re done with pickup, be sure to not only thank them for their business, but keep them engaged with promotions and upsell offers.

AI-Driven Personalized Experiences

Even if curbside pickup offers only a brief interaction, there are many reasons to focus on creating a relevant and personalized experience from beginning to end—from location-based curbside instructions to purchase-based cross-sell promotions. Personalization technology helps ensure that every BOPAC customer gets the exact information they need for their purchase and their location.

In Kibo’s The Rise of Personalized Commerce Study, 52 percent of retailers said they are turning to AI-driven personalization to showcase personalized product recommendations and other enhanced options, during BOPIS/BOPAC shopping experiences.  

As retailers pivoted from in-store pickup to curbside pickup, it eliminated an opportunity for in-person upsell like bundling and coupons. This doesn’t have to be the case. Retailers can use SMS push promotions, email offers, and drive-thru promo stations to create new value-creation opportunities. And, personalization elements, like predictive product recommendations can help with upsell and cross-sell opportunities, either while they are on their way, or as a way to engage after purchase. For example, if someone orders running shoes, offer socks at a discount upon checkout.

A personalization software or platform can help ensure that those upsell opportunities are as relevant as possible.

Offer Post-Pickup Incentives

Speaking of promotions and upsell, remember that your customer might have driven away, but you can still find valuable ways to engage with them to keep the relationship going. Some restaurants have started asking for “curbside reviews” in exchange for a discount on future purchase—this not only keeps their reviews fresh, but also searchable if people want to know if there are nearby restaurants offering curbside pickup. 

If your consumers purchased goods that they’ll use up quickly, consider timing offers based on when they might be in need of more. For example, offering a discount on diapers two weeks after their original purchase. The messages can be triggered to time with the type of their purchase and the typical time between repeat purchases.

Empower Store Associates 

Here is where the back-end and the client-facing experience converge.

With the right tools, in-store associates can be trained and armed to respond to new curbside orders quickly and efficiently, but also with the customer in mind. Ensuring that pickup windows are working, that the pickup area is running smoothly, and that customers know what to expect, are all key elements to the process that can and should be managed through an associate kiosk.

Through such a kiosk, associates can leverage a simple-to-use dashboard available on all devices to keep track of curbside pickup orders, manage communications, and provide visibility in the fulfillment flow. The system’s automated alerts can notify associates them where and when customers will arrive at your store. No confusions or missed connections. No native app necessary to keep in touch.

Deliver A Better BOPAC Experience

Kibo’s Curbside Pickup is an omnichannel fulfillment solution that can be deployed quickly, at low cost, and at scale.

Learn More

Make BOPAC Part of a Unified Experience 

More than anything, it’s important the customer feels like they are getting a consistent experience wherever they may engage in a BOPAC experience. Combining backend ecommerce logistics, order fulfillment. and personalization across channels is the key to a unified customer experience. If customers order online and then alter that order on their phone, or send an email before they arrive, they expect that a store associate has all that information readily available. If they already paid online, they don’t want to be asked about payment. When they leave, they’ll want confirmation on their phone that the pickup is complete. All of these seamless elements can only come together when curbside pickup is integrated into the multichannel sales and marketing flow across site, email, mobile, and store.

Over time, a unified shopping experience doesn’t just build engagement but customer loyalty and retention. Unified shopping experiences tend to be more seamless and user-friendly, typically resulting in happier customers. Happy customers become repeat customers. And even as more customers venture back into stores, they’ll remember the great experiences they had with curbside pickup.