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Curbside Pickup and BOPIS: What Makes for a Successful Customer Experience?

Erin Ollila
May 18, 2021

2 minute read

Consumers were beginning to appreciate the convenience of BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and curbside pickup pre-pandemic, but the need for social distancing accelerated the rate at which they began to utilize the service. According to a 2020 National Retail Federation survey, “More than three-quarters of consumers said they were interested in BOPIS; over 90% of those who have tried it said curbside was convenient.”

Now that it’s apparent BOPIS and curbside pickup isn’t a passing phase or temporary solution, but a powerful way for consumers to purchase, it’s time for retailers to consider what may be necessary for a successful customer experience.

In an article for NRF, retail strategist Ron Lutz says, “When a customer no longer has to enter the store, the retailer has lost every touchpoint that exists within the store environment. If a customer’s in-store experience is amazing, but the parking lot or curbside experience is lacking, the latter sub-par touchpoint may be the only taste of your brand a consumer will get.”

While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, here are a few must-haves to make the out-of-store customer experience excellent, too.

Available associates

Well-trained associates make all the difference when it comes to prepping and fulfilling BOPIS and curbside offers. First, the staff needs to know the store well so they can pick items quickly and carefully. Then, orders must be stored in an organized manner, including separating items that need refrigeration from non-perishables. Finally, associates will need to gather and deliver orders. And as they may be the only touchpoint the consumer has with the brand, as Lutz points out in the aforementioned article, the way they perform their jobs and interact with consumers is a major driver of whether or not a customer will consider their experience a positive one.

Quick picking

One of the main features of curbside pickup and BOPIS orders is that consumers no longer need to spend time perusing the aisles of the store. Instead, the items they need are collected for them. However, consumers also expect their order to be filled quickly. Otherwise, they could simply gather their purchases on their own. To provide a successful experience, quick picking can be accomplished with well-trained staff and intelligent inventory systems.

Appropriate parking

Ease of access to pick up orders makes for a great customer experience. To accomplish this, assign an area in the parking lot just for curbside pickups. Visible signage is also important for a quality experience. At busy locations, retailers may also consider creating additional BOPIS-only parking for customers who are just running in to grab their orders.

Updated tech

For many reasons, tech creates the opportunity to improve the customer experience at all points of a sale. For curbside orders specifically, apps with updated tech, like those from Target, Kohl’s, and Lowe’s, allow consumers to seamlessly check in and let the stores know they’re ready to pick up their order.

While these are some of the simplest methods to provide a successful customer experience for BOPIS or curbside pickup orders, there are many more ways to impress consumers. Though, the best way to provide an excellent customer experience is to constantly improve as time goes on.

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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