Concerns over in-store safety have led consumers to embrace a range of new delivery services this year, including curbside pickup and “buy online, pickup in store” (BOPIS). But as regular store offerings resume, consumers have more options and could be pickier about the quality of their experience. And new data suggests that some current services aren’t fully meeting expectations.
Industry insights firm Incisiv conducted a survey of 2,510 US shoppers during the first week of August, commissioned by Manhattan Associates. The results showed that 85% of consumers had significantly increased their use of curbside pickup since COVID-19, while 80% expect to increase this engagement further during the next six months; 79% described contactless pickup as “very important” to them.
Same-day need of product was ranked as the top motivation for visiting stores by 88% of those surveyed, therefore e-commerce businesses risk losing out on those purchases if they can’t provide that speed of fulfilment.
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Maintaining the balance between customer desire and safety is another challenge; the survey found that even though 74% miss in-store product trials, only 5% would be willing to resume those in the next 6 months. But BOPIS and curbside pickup have enabled consumers to retain some of their favorite parts of the in-store experience while staying safe, such as providing instant gratification of purchase (100% of respondents).
This led to mass adoption of these services, but Incisiv found that retailers are consistently falling short in terms of quality and safety. Consumers ranked in-store experiences as 4.68/5 for safety and cleanliness, while pickup services scored 3.9/5. Similarly, the overall curbside and BOPIS experiences performed badly, scoring 3.53 and 3.56 respectively. The three biggest complaints were lack of in-store availability; difficulty booking preferred pickup times; and difficulty filtering for products available for pickup.
“In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic shoppers had little choice but to overlook friction in the online ordering and store pick-up experience – not anymore,” said the report. “With continued growth in adoption expected over the next 6 months, shoppers will switch loyalties to retailers who offer more seamless experiences.”
Incisiv assessed which were the most important features for consumers who participate in an omnichannel shopping experience beginning online and finishing in-store. For those browsing online before shopping at stores, the ability to see available store inventory was the most important (91%), even more so than store hours.
Those preparing for curbside pickup or BOPIS valued the ability to see which stores offered those services (100%); which products were eligible for those services (99%); and easy availability of pickup dates and times (94%). Consumers were much less interested in complicated digital experiences, with 0% reporting that they would want to be able to virtually browse the store.
The investments that many online merchants have made to their platforms appear to have paid off, with 85% of consumers scoring the online ordering experience four stars or higher. The fulfilment of these purchases, however, has created friction and is therefore where retailers should be turning their attention. In particular, wait time was scored 3 stars or lower by 64% of respondents.
“Shoppers rate their recent checkout and pick-up experiences poorly across a variety of parameters,” said the report. “With shoppers demanding speed, immediacy and convenience, the checkout and pick-up customer journey becomes critically important for retailers. If retailers don’t improve [these] experiences, there is little likelihood they will retain shopper loyalty for long.”