The retail sector was already in the midst of a vast upheaval, but little did we know that a virus would end up changing retail forever. The buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) revolution has become part of the new normal and curbside pickup has been embraced by customers, the common thread is that these accommodations and modifications have actually enhanced customer experience and enabled retailers to survive the initial moments of the economic downturn.
In a recent interview with the National Retail Federal (NRF), noted supply chain expert, Gartner’s Tom Enright, shared insights from his latest research about the impact of the coronavirus on retailers and customer experience. What Enright finds most striking about the impact of the pandemic is how it has accelerated the pace of change in the retail sector. “Before COVID-19, if you had asked a lot of these retailers, “Do you want to develop a curbside service?” they would have said yes, but offered a long lead time, piloting, testing, caution, risk avoidance. It may have taken 18 months. In some cases, some retailers stood up a service overnight and certainly in days,” he shared.
The extent of retailers’ embrace of curbside pickup is shown in Walmart Canada’s recent announcement that a significant portion of their $2.6 billion investment in Canadian stores will go to improving that part of the customer experience. Shared Thad Rueter in Retail Leader:”Walmart Canada said it will also expand its Walmart Pickup offering to 270 stores, or 70% of its locations, by the end of this year. The retailer aims to provide better advance notification for consumers using pickup, which promises to speed up the process. The investment reflects the wider race in food and other types of retail to improve curbside pickup services — programs that succeed or fail based on speed and efficiency…”
But as much as Enright and others are optimistic about the curbside pickup revolution there are other factors that retailers need to consider. “Retailers need to be able to present products with potential upsell appeal to consumers during the curbside collection process,” noted Enright at the end of his analysis. “You’ve got look at these services as part of a portfolio. Look at them individually to see how they work and how much they generate, but usually it’s the same shopper using both services.”
It will be interesting to see how curbside pickup strategies evolve over the next few months as the pandemic peaks in the United States and as retailers manage the busy holiday season. What’s certain, though, no matter what factors are changing retail, we’ll be covering the latest trends and news, here, on Retail Technology Insider.