The Transportation Safety Administration, everyone’s favorite part of flying on an airline. The long lines and complicated queuing are one of the least missed parts about changes that have come from lack of air travel during this COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately to my dismay, I have found that this frustrating customer experience has been transferred to many leading retailers store pickup models.
Kicking off new order management and omnichannel fulfillment projects are always filled with new initiative buzzwords: cultivated personalized experiences, customer focused design, dynamic process flows. Somewhere along the way in the past months, these key ideas have been tossed to the side in an effort to reopen stores and push product. Although this seems to be the best approach, is it at the cost of deteriorating the customer experience that has been formed over many years? Just the other day I attempted to stop by a box retailer to pick up tape for a home improvement project. Upon reaching the store, there was a line in excess of forty people waiting in a queue outside of the store to ask for an employee to find items and then complete purchase. There were no signs explaining the process, no urgency from any employees working, and no ability for customers to understand if there was a better BOPIS process to order items. Just a long slow queue with no instructions. Since the tape was not that high on my priority list, I assumed to either order it online, place a BOPIS order at another store, or find another store without a line. It is critical that retailers consider the modern customers’ expectations that retailers should continue to adapt and drive seamless experiences within the store.
The airport security process is full of communication failures. Which queue should I get in? Do I leave my laptop in my bag? Do I take my shoes off? How early do I really have to arrive for my flight? The process changes without rhyme or reason to the average traveler. Customers crave consistency and appreciate when questions are answered prior to a critical decision point. Similarly, with curbside pickup models, customers are left frustrated by poor communication during their experience. When is my order ready? Where do I park? How do I let you know I am here? Many retailers brought curbside pickup to market without thoughtful consideration of how to thoughtfully address customer’s concerns which created brand failures. One example that comes to mind is a recent experience with curbside pickup. After ordering an item online, I was prompted to call the store to get more information. It turned out that the hours of curbside pickup did not align with standard store hours, and I was unable to make the pickup windows during the week. I would have had to wait four days to pick up my order during the weekend, so I ultimately cancelled the order. The entire experience left me with a poor experience for the brand when the hours could have easily been posted on the website during the ordering process. Retailers must find ways to proactively address their customer’s concerns to ensure the curbside pickup process operates as seamlessly as possible.
Security checkpoint equipment and processes vary from airport to airport. Some larger or newer airports have the latest and greatest technologies to improve efficiency, where smaller airports may have older equipment. The inconsistencies in the experiences creates massive frustration for customers. Similarly, retailers inherently operate with different constraints across their stores. Some stores are in a strip center and some are in a mall. Curbside pickup is perhaps easier to operate from a strip center where there is truly curbside access. Curbside pickup physically looks different from store to store, and customers understand that, yet they crave consistent experiences. Retailers have an opportunity to leverage curbside pickup as a catalyst for a consistent experience across very different store types.
Additionally, as you flow through the airport security process you are not treated as a valued customer, but rather as just another person and bag to screen. A concern that some argue with curbside pickup is that is utilizes high-cost real estate to deliver an industrial function – each car is just another package to deliver. Perhaps though, it is an opportunity to humanize a brand for customers, leading to a higher likelihood that a customer will return. Perhaps instead of just creating a solution for curbside pickup, retailers can focus on creating a brand experience through curbside pickup. There is no opportunity to “up-sell” as you may have inside a store, however it creates an opportunity for retails to differentiate themselves by offering thoughtful pickup options and experiences for customers.
Here at Bricz, we’re passionate about helping retailers navigate the exciting transition to curbside pickup. Send us an email at email@example.com for more information on our services.
Contributor: Will McAleer, Omnichannel Manager at Bricz