Curbside and In-Store Pickup Rewrite Rules for Shopping, Payments

Some think of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside contactless pickup as pandemic stopgaps that will eventually go away, but in fact, these services were featured in retail plans before the health emergency hit in 2020 — and rather than fading, they’re filling out more.

Speaking with PYMNTS on the topic, Bank of America Senior Vice President of Product Management Nicolle Wilson said what appeared to be a contactless COVID-19 innovation was already on the minds of merchants as a way to boost order sizes and lock down loyalty.

“If you think about it, the time that it takes to put something like this together, to implement it with a large retailer, could not have happened in the month or two when we first went into quarantine,” she said. “That shows that there was already a demand for the service.”

PYMNTS data supports the thesis. “The 2022 Global Digital Shopping Playbook: U.S. Edition,” a PYMNTS and Cybersource collaboration, part of a larger survey of over 13,000 shoppers and 3,100 merchants in six nations, showed the “why” behind BOPIS and curbside strategies.

We found that 11% of U.S. consumers who ordered online received their most recent eCommerce purchases at curbside, and 47% of consumers using BOPIS purchased additional products while in the store.

Wilson said that doesn’t surprise her. Rather, it’s proof that many businesses were already investing before the pandemic hit, that they’ve stuck with it and that they’re now starting to think about ways of fine tuning the technology.

“It keeps those brick-and-mortar locations relevant in a very digital age,” she said. “Merchants are reporting a steady growth in it still. Some industries have seen kind of an uptick and then kind of a leveling off, but if consumers like it, merchants are going to continue to offer it. The consumers are reporting that they’re likely to continue using the service even after … the health emergency is behind us.”

Satisfaction All Around

While much attention is paid to the consumer experience of BOPIS and curbside — in short, they like it — certain ancillary benefits accrue to retailers embracing the concept. Not only do BOPIS users specifically add to their order when picking up, but retailers are realizing new efficiencies and savings as well.

Wilson said BOPIS and curbside are helping merchants save on shipping costs. If a shopper can drive to the store to pick up a product and return it at the same location, it takes the hassle of shipping out of the equation for both retailers and customers.

Though many of these programs are concentrated among the bigger players, all merchants can take cues from what the big dogs are doing with these services and why they’re still investing.

“It’s your large retailers,” Wilson said. “Those are the notable ones where we see the service being offered. I mentioned the grocers. And the main benefit is customer satisfaction. Customers enjoy the flexibility of getting those goods however best suits them that day, and merchants have seen an increase in customer loyalty.”

See also: Embracing the New Normal

Making the point was news from Kohl’s in August that it is expanding BOPIS self-pickup on eligible online orders at all 1,100 Kohl’s stores.

“Our customers love the convenience of same-day buy online, pick up in store, and now we’re taking the experience to the next level,” Kohl’s Chief Technology Officer Siobhán Mc Feeney said in a press release. “With some of the busiest months ahead for both customers and associates, we’re excited to offer self-pickup at every store for an easier and more efficient omnichannel experience.”

Part of the reason that BOPIS in particular is getting singled out for expansion isn’t just the added impulse purchases, but how it adds a dimension that delivery can’t. Many consumers don’t want to have to be home to accept a delivery, while others see it as solving any fulfillment problems on the spot.

“Some consumers want to be there at the time of fulfillment in case there is a problem,” Wilson said. “When you get a delivery and there is a problem, what a headache that is. If you’re right there and you just walk in, and an associate can come out and help, it just makes it so much easier. Or on some larger ticket items, consumers really prefer to be there.”

More Control, Less Friction

As experiences that help define what omnichannel shopping is, BOPIS and curbside are nevertheless drivers of online shopping and payments, enriching the whole ecosystem.

Talking about the control and flexibility of omnichannel experiences with a focus on the ease of online shopping to start journeys, Wilson told PYMNTS that implementing a new payment method online is sometimes “a little more adaptable.”

Learn more: The Data Point: 34% of Connected Consumers Demand Same-Day Pickup and Delivery

That digital experiential edge of online shopping blends well with online payment and self-serve pick up options.

“Being able to allow that consumer to place an order and pay for it with little to no friction gives you an even bigger advantage,” she said. “We’ve seen a large shift to nearly half, sometimes more than half, of the payments are occurring online digitally, and more and more of those originate from a mobile device.”

As these methods continue their post-pandemic expansion and reshaping from Amazon to Walmart to a host of others, we can expect what Kohl’s just announced to become even more widespread going forward as consumers and retailers each see benefits adding up.

“More and more, we’re seeing that initial point of interaction with the customer [becoming] your payment collection point as well,” Wilson said. “Having that all taken care of in one place … it just becomes frictionless. It steps into the background. It’s very critical, and we’re seeing a lot of investment in that across, not just our portfolio, but the whole industry.”