Retail

Curbside Pickup and How It Impacts Your Retail Strategy

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers were already seeing enthusiasm from customers for more convenient ways to interact during the purchasing process. While some retailers have offered limited order pickup options for some time, this was often limited to certain verticals or a small sub-set of products. In the past few years, retail innovations such as order pickup, delivery services, and same-day delivery have grown in popularity. Order pickup provides an additional level of convenience to the customer. They can schedule based on their own time constraints and spend little time waiting in lines or finding products in crowded retail centers.

The COVID pandemic drastically accelerated the momentum for convenient shopping experiences. In a matter of weeks, many retailers found that curbside pickup was the ONLY option available if they wanted to remain open. Dictated by local government guidance, social distancing concerns and employee safety, many retailers were left scrambling to enable curbside pickup.

The Challenges

For retailers who did not already have a curbside pickup solution in place, there have been a number of challenges:

  • Integrating the process with existing order management systems
  • Contact-less communication options between store staff and customers
  • Voice lines tied up with customers calling to check in when they arrive
  • Re-configuring staffing to fit new tasks and responsibilities
  • Tracking progress of hand-off of order to customer

The Market

Even before the pandemic, the curbside pickup or “click and collect” market was growing significantly. Prior to lock-downs and store closures driven by COVID-19, the forecast in February indicated a growth rate of nearly 40%. Now the forecasts suggests a 60% growth rate in 2020. These predictions show this retail method was already a significant trend that COVID-19 amplified.

Customers are finding a lot to like about the model. Now it is growing to include local businesses and verticals outside the early adopter space occupied by big box stores and grocery. Disruptions in logistics and shipping have made traditional online shopping less predictable, with lost orders, cancellations, shipping delays and other issues. A curbside delivery option provides many of the benefits and “perks” of online shopping without these issues, restoring confidence to consumers and improving customer satisfaction.

Solutions from Perficient

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Perficient has long had a significant presence in the retail space, with verticals, strategists and expertise in a variety of order management, customer relationship, marketing and other platforms. When this is combined with our expertise in customer engagement solutions, compelling solutions open up in the intersection of these various platforms. Our partnership with Twilio provides a variety of communication channels to meet challenges associated with curbside pickup. These channels can optimize customer engagement in additional ways, such as surveys, up-selling, or sales promotions and coupons to drive more sales.

We are now offering accelerator packages built on Twilio to help businesses

  • Quickly enable curbside delivery for retailers still struggling to adapt to the new normal
  • Quickly iterate on customized interactions appropriate to their business model
  • Move towards more sophisticated and fully-integrated solutions

Curbside Delivery Powered by Twilio

Our first approach uses Twilio Flex as the foundation, which provides a full customer engagement platform to further expand options. This solution is appropriate in cases where distribution is already driven from computer systems in the local store. Using the Flex agent console, a store worker can act as a dispatcher who hands out and tracks order fulfillment using the team of store employees.

Our second approach is more suited for a de-centralized approach where workers and supervisors facilitate curbside delivery using only their mobile devices. In this case, SMS is used to manage worker availability and assign/track order delivery tasks.

Both approaches use an SMS interaction from the customer to kick off the interaction. Upon a customer’s arrival, your business can immediately assign order fulfillment to a worker without needing a voice interaction. Alternately, additional information can be gathered from the customer to improve efficiency by quickly matching the waiting customer to their order. If any questions arise or the customer cannot be located quickly, a store employee and the customer can communicate directly over SMS.

Over time, these solutions become a core part of the overall retail platform, including full integration with existing order management systems, customer relationship management, marketing platforms and point-of-sale systems. We can help you determine priorities and the best approaches for your current state.

 

 

About the Author

Director of Customer Engagement Solutions, currently focusing on the Twilio Flex contact center platform and other Twilio services. My background spans 25 years including Microsoft and front-end application development, unified communications, enterprise architecture and services, Azure, AWS, database design and a little bit of everything else.

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