Retailers are reeling from the crushing implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of social distancing, many stores are closed, are offering limited hours, or are dealing with limits on in-store traffic. Now is also a stressful time for consumers as they try to navigate their daily lives—shopping more online and straining to buy what they need with limited retail options.
One of the swiftest changes that has occurred is the dramatic shift in customer shopping and fulfillment. Many retailers have recently implemented Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) options, and may need to quickly pivot to curbside pickup or other touchless pickup options. Other retailers haven’t tried new fulfillment options for their retail stores, but would like to get started to give their customers more options.
Yet, each region has different details to contend with such as early hours for seniors, and changing restrictions on store capacity, order pickup, and more. And each store has different logistical issues, from the size of the staging area, to packing orders or staging hot food, to the customer pickup options outside of it.
The need for an easy process to offer the right combination of communication, shopping, and fulfillment options has never been greater.
Is Curbside Right for You?
Moving from in-store fulfillment to curbside pickup can feel like a logistical nightmare when so much about the business is turned upside down. If you already have BOPIS in place, the switch shouldn’t be too hard to implement, but having a plan in place and the right partnership can make the transition much easier. It’s important to remember that not every location can work for curbside pickup, and not every customer is going to embrace it.
Before deciding what’s possible, it’s important to weigh all of the elements that will make curbside successful.
4-Step Curbside Evaluation:
1. Look at local regulations, market trends, and buyer behaviors. Leverage your analytics and customer behavior data to identify locations with predictable curbside pickup adoption.
2. Assess store operations. Each store has a different footprint, and most importantly, a different “curb” that people will drive up to.
3. Evaluate how to optimize the digital purchase experience. Shoppers need to be notified of the new option, of course, but they also need to feel confident that it is compliant with local regulations, and is easy and safe.
4. Determine how to unify the pre-purchase and post-purchase experience. When it comes to curbside pickup, post-purchase is far more critical to program adoption and building loyalty than pre-purchase. Customers are still multichannel, so even if the fulfillment process changes, the seamless communication should remain. Determine what’s needed to keep customers connected and give them clear channels for feedback, returns, and customer service post-purchase.
Creating a Clear Path to Success
If your analysis shows you that curbside is the right way to go, now’s the time to ensure that you implement it successfully and seamlessly. Here are the key considerations:
Make It Easy for Customers. Adapted BOPIS experiences like curbside pickup must be just as easy, or easier, for consumers to use than their traditional counterparts or they will not be adopted in mass. In addition to a checkout process that gives shoppers the information they need to get their goods, you’ll need to be ready with logistical descriptions, expected wait times, and information for how to connect with people in the store should any confusion arise.
Minimize Pickup Wait Time. Curbside pickup is new for customers, and they don’t want to sit in their cars wondering if they’ve done something wrong in the process while watching other shoppers enter and exit the store. Focus on abundant communication to set expectations before arriving and during the wait, and organize operations to be promptly responsive to curbside pickup events. Everything from timed emails to SMS push messages, or a hotline for questions, can be a key to success.
Deliver Operations Accuracy. Now is the time to create a quick and accurate process to get things right before the order is brought outside. Most retailers offering in-store counter pickup programs have staged order merchandise near the counter. Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and others’ operations are set up this way. Human error, like grabbing the wrong order, can then be remedied in seconds. Similarly, a similar error in a curbside pickup scenario can be resolved in minutes with the right operations in place.
Prepare for Different Volume Scenarios. As volumes fluctuate, retailers may be challenged with serving more customers for curbside pickup than what their staff can serve, or designating enough parking spots at certain times of the day. If you are managing these challenges, it could help to offer a prearranged curbside pickup window to ensure everyone is served promptly and efficiently.
Ready to Go! Only a Few Simple Steps to Take
BOPIS and curbside pickup start with the same process:
- The customer shops online and pays online
- The order is emailed to you with product and location information
- You let the customer know the timing for pickup
The difference? With curbside pickup, you’ll fulfill the order without having the customer come into the store, such as:
- Deliver to the trunk of a customer’s car
- Deliver to external lockboxes or pickup bins at the store location that the customer can access
To enable curbside pickup in Kibo:
1) Go to System>Schema>“Location Attributes.”
2) On the Location Attributes page, select “Create New Location Attributes.”
3) Name your new attribute “Curbside Pickup, give it a code and set it as “Admin & Storefront.”
4) Remember to add “Curbside Pickup” to your store advertisement field!
5) Select “Yes/No” to enable curbside pickup.
6) Navigate to your selected location, and toggle to enable, and you can manage the details from there!
- Check to make sure you have inventory at that location to fulfill curbside pickup
- Check your order routing setup
- Configure new fulfillment workflows
Start to Finish – Kibo Is Here to Help
Ready to get started? Kibo facilitates curbside pickup experiences from end to end. With Kibo, you can quickly alert customers to new options, streamline your operations, and give consumers a safe and easy experience. With Kibo, you can also personalize the experience to ensure every customer gets what they need, when and how they need it.
This blog post was written by Mark Wright, Kibo’s Director, Sales Engineering.