How In-store Pickup Improves Customer Engagement

Peter Kurucz December 21, 2021

In a year when retailers have been forced to innovate with fewer customers in-store (and sometimes none at all), curbside pickup has been an excellent way of still generating sales while keeping customers and workers safe. Our own survey in 2020 found that 40% of shoppers had used curbside pickup during the pandemic.

As the world starts to roll out vaccination programs, towns and cities are opening up, brands will want to start bringing customers back. But they still need options for customers who feel uncomfortable returning to a full in-store shopping experience.

Capitalize on 2020’s Ecommerce Boom

In 2020 there was a 44% jump in US online retail spending, to over $861bn, meaning eCommerce accounts for more than a fifth of all retail sales. It’s not difficult to work out why more people were buying online last year, but it seems to be a conscious shift rather than just a necessity because everyone’s stuck at home.

Our research found that once the pandemic ends 58% would still shop online more. On the opposite side, Forrester found that when customers come to a store to pick up an order, 35% will buy something else. While curbside pickup has been a great contingency, a small change in focus can help in-store pickup become a brand’s trojan horse for sparking consistent engagement before, during and after a sale.

As eCommerce has boomed, so has a customer’s expectation for the time between order and delivery. Unless you are Amazon, same or next day delivery can be difficult to operationalize, and is always more expensive as a sales option with extra costs in packaging and postage, not to mention handling more returns. By offering the chance to pick up in-store on the day or within 24 hours, CX is improved by simply avoiding any potential delays associated with shipping items.

Take the example below as an illustration of the effect that Covid-19 has had on the number of delivery-related queries for one of our retail partners.

The early lockdown spike from March to May distorts the numbers slightly, but the number of queries outside of that period, between January 2020 and January 2021 rose by 400%. It seems highly unlikely this trend will go back to the levels of early 2020 once retailers are able to fully reopen.

Why In-Store Pickup is Better for Brands than Curbside

  • The chance to upsell: It’s much easier to encourage more sales when the products are right in front of customers compared to picking a box up curbside. Consumers just tend to spend more in-store than online, a First Insight report found that 71% of people spend $50 or more when shopping instore vs 54% online. Impulse shopping is just more common when browsing in bricks-and-mortar shops – 78% of men and 89% of women will often add extra items to their basket when in-store, compared to 67% and 77% respectively when it comes to digital retail therapy.
  • Less investment required: With curbside pickup, there are more integrations required with technology to take online payments and training in-store teams to process the orders and support the process of customers collecting the order. In-store collection provides the convenience of online ordering and a specific time for collection (often the same day) but with less expenditure required to make it work effectively.

Engagement over Messaging Channels Gives an 89% Customer Retention Rate

The way to employ this trojan horse of customer engagement and acquisition is through private messaging channels. For example, Facebook Messenger’s ‘Carousel’ or Apple Messages for Business ‘Pickers’ function allows brands to showcase their products within the channel. Employing Click-to-Messenger ads and using a tool like Notify, automated flows designed to make a sales process as smooth as possible can be easily employed to make an in-store pickup order incredibly straightforward. Brands with the strongest digital customer experiences tend to catch and keep customers better, with an 89% retention rate, compared to 33% for companies with weaker experiences.

Once the customer is engaged, it’s a case of ensuring they stay that way. From simple tactics like a post-purchase survey asking about their experiences, to offering a discount off their next in-store pickups or setting up regular reminders for recurring collections, providing a personalized experience that works for them is crucial for customer retention. 80% of consumers want brands to directly communicate with them after a sale, so providing it’s a messaging experience they enjoy, brands can capitalize on this level of engagement to increase CLV.

Brands will soon be looking at ways to welcome customers back to their stores, while still providing an experience that alleviates any lingering concerns some consumers are bound to have after more than 12 months of a global pandemic. In-store pickup is the perfect solution that marketing teams can own with new and existing customers – providing the convenience of online shopping, coupled with the opportunity for upselling during collection and using messaging channels for regular and continuous engagement.