Is curbside pickup just getting started?

Discussion
Source: Dick's Sporting Goods
May 07, 2020
Tom Ryan

With scores of retailers introducing curbside pickup and continuing to offer it as stores reopen, more consumers are getting accustomed to the convenience of the service overall.

Among the research showing curbside’s appeal during the pandemic:

  • The number of orders placed online and picked up at stores by customers surged 208 percent between April 1 and April 20 compared with a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.
  • A survey of over 1,500 consumers from CommerceHub taken over a two-day period in April found 59 percent were more likely to use curbside pickup following the coronavirus outbreak. Of those who subscribed to multiple delivery services (including Amazon Prime), 75 percent said they were still likely to opt for curbside delivery once the pandemic subsides.
  • An online survey of retailers from RIS News conducted from April 2 to 16 found 44 percent offering curbside pickup, just below the 47 percent offering BOPIS via counter pickup. A third of retailers not offering curbside pickup were rushing to get the service up as soon as possible.

The findings come as major chains, including Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gap and Kohl’s, as well as multitudes of local stores and restaurants have introduced curbside delivery after forced store closures.

All the retailers new to curbside pickup are offering the service for free. Kroger, which had charged $4.95 for the service, is also offering it for free during the pandemic. Walmart and Target had long offered the service as complementary.

In a note, “Curbside, Connected & Robotic Retail Revolution,” that came out in April 2019, Cowen & Co. predicted that some 25 percent of consumers overall would opt for curbside’s convenience by 2020. The benefits of curbside pickup, according to Cowen’s report as reported by Forbes, include foregoing in-store navigation, avoiding the checkout line and not having to search for items in the store. Cowen wrote, “Curbside will play a premier role in the future of retail.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has curbside pickup become a bigger opportunity amid the pandemic or do you see it as a temporary solution for most retailers? What hurdles may the expansion of curbside pickup face?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Even after consumers go back to work, the idea of curbside pickup on the way home will remain a strong trend in the months to come."
"For retailers, contrary to popular belief, providing pickup and curbside can actually increase sales and shopper frequency."
"In the long run it could become another problem for retailers who depend on foot traffic and impulse buying. Fewer lookers equal less buying."

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43 Comments on "Is curbside pickup just getting started?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Curbside pickup is here to stay in a big way. This will be one of the pandemic-driven service features that will become a permanent and bigger part of retailing.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

Curbside pickup will see sustained growth in groceries. There is an aspect of convenience and a reciprocal relationship between customers and retailers. The critical mass of consumers get used to it, so stores will also learn and perfect it. For other retailers, it will probably wane once the safety-related concerns ease.

Generally speaking businesses that are already doing drive-thru on a large scale may find it attractive to invest in curbside capabilities. But unlike BOPIS, the cross-sell and up-sell opportunities are non-existent in BOPAC, so the investments may not be as much.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Sometimes a major crisis (like COVID-19) forces a change. Sometimes that change is temporary, but it can also be permanent, even after the crisis. We’re enjoying the answers our clients are giving us to the following question: What major change did you make to your business during the COVID-19 crisis that you are going to make permanent?

When it comes to retail and restaurants, curbside pickup has become “standard operating procedure” throughout the crisis. Many retailers and restaurants already had a system in place for this. It was just amplified by the crisis. Now customers use it on a regular basis – and they are used to it. It is now a viable and comfortable option for them to take advantage of. The question is, will the retailer be willing to accommodate their customers’ new habit of curbside pickup?

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
CEO and President, Cogent Creative Consulting
6 months 21 days ago

The pandemic has certainly increased the number of retailers offering curbside pickup and consumers are adopting this new process. It will likely be a new customer expectation. The biggest challenge for retailers is the increased cost of staff to pick items and staff the curbside pickup area. While most retailers are not charging for this service now, some may choose to add a fee for curbside.

Michael Terpkosh
BrainTrust

This is huge opportunity for retailers across all channels. In some parts of the country, as malls and stores try to open, consumers are not coming out in big crowds to shop. Curbside pickup offers consumers more peace of mind about their shopping safety while allowing them to get out of the house. I believe that even after consumers go back to work, the idea of curbside pickup on the way home will remain a strong trend in the months to come.

Art Suriano
Guest
Curbside pickup is nothing new and has already proven successful for many retailers. The pandemic has forced retailers who have not offered the service to get in the game. That said, when things return to normal, whenever that is, I see curbside pickup continuing for most retailers. Moreover, it will be more significant than it was before the pandemic because more customers who had not used the service before will, because they will learn to like it. However there will still be that percentage who love going to stores. Once that group becomes comfortable walking inside stores, and they are allowed to do so, I see store traffic resuming. There will be a few less retailers after this is all over, definitely a lot less stores and most likely some different ways that consumers will be comfortable shopping. We’re heading into a new phase of retail. This new phase was brought on not just because of the pandemic but also because of technology. Retail will continue to evolve, and it will survive.
Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

I do think curbside pickup is here to stay. It will mean that many retailers will quickly need to figure out how to ease the congestion of cars that will certainly be an issue once most stores are re-opened. This is a huge issue in metro areas like NYC, where driving around the side or the back of the store is not always possible and is the exception and not the rule.

Scott Norris
Guest

Dense metro areas will probably evolve toward instant-delivery as they have in China and Korea. NYC is already oriented toward transit usage and bike delivery so the habit of stopping at a grocery store on the way home and buying a cartload wasn’t ingrained to begin with. (We have been more and more impressed at how quickly Target is upgrading its Shipt service – now getting deliveries in around two hours from time of order!)

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This is undoubtedly one of the trends that will stick post-virus. It is a win-win for consumers and retailers. From the shopper point of view, it is convenient and quick; from the retailer point of view, it is more cost-effective than delivering to home.

Target already had great success with its drive-up proposition before the crisis hit. More retailers now see those same benefits and will develop their own permanent propositions.

There is a hurdle of managing the volume at peak times, something even Target sometimes struggles with. You also need to have a suitable area for pickup to happen – preferably not right in front of the store entrance where customers are going in and out. Walmart has created separate areas for pickup which works well.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Curbside pickup was always an opportunity, now it is being emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic. We talked about ordering groceries online and picking up the order waiting for us, in pre-assigned parking spaces, on our way home, more than five years ago. It was always a good concept, especially in certain product categories such as grocery stores/supermarkets. As has been the case in many other disciplines and uses of technology, the current situation has accelerated the implementation of new processes, new ideas, new systems, and socio-economic adjustments. Curbside pickup, in one or more forms, is here to stay.

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

Retailers should be careful about “pushing” curbside pickup as an option. Some customers may like it, But the drop off in impulse sales makes this likely just another part of the race to the bottom. The brand experience, discovery, personal connection and more all disappear. Curbside pickup turns the store into just a warehouse. It may be a bedfellow retailers need to live with … but don’t cozy up to it too much.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Exactly Kevin. I’m 110 percent with you. Merchants know it’s about the delivery on brick-and-mortar’s advantages, not throwing it all out the window to be a warehouse.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Buy online and pickup at curb (BOPAC) is something consumers have fully embraced and will expect in the future. The service provides a higher level of convenience to the customer, the transaction can remain contactless; adding a level of safety many customers will expect and require. Retailers need to streamline the process with the use of beacons or license plate recognition, the customer experience can be streamlined to improve efficiency and eliminate customer wait times for BOPIS and BOPAC. Perhaps the store of the future is really an automated pick, pack and pickup facility leveraging micro-fulfillment instead of traditional point of sale.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

We did a study five years ago on BOPIS and we were shocked at the strength of the results. You can just multiply that by 10 now. It’s no longer a “nice to have.” Pickup at store (where the retailer puts the goods in the trunk, by the way) is now a “must have.”

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

When the government closes your store to browsing and requires only curbside delivery, I think it is safe to say this is why the uptick was so swift. To assume everyone will be doing this at a mall or major store misses the fundamental reason brick-and-mortar can be more profitable – discovery. If stores are reduced to nothing more than warehouses, it simply isn’t sustainable or a competitive advantage. The merchandisers, salespeople, and the rest of staff can juice sales a heck of a lot more than people driving up like an A&W.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader
6 months 21 days ago

Bob, that’s a great point about the risk of turning your store into a warehouse. However, I think that undervalues the brand relationship and loyalty you’re building with that curbside customer. I believe many of the purchases you would get for curbside pickup are purchases that would have gone online or to another competitor. Discovery wouldn’t have been an option for that transaction in the eyes of the shopper. However, the more your customers use the service the more loyalty they’ll have with you and when they are ready to go into a store to shop for something, discovery will happen — but only because you’ve built on the relationship with that shopper. Of course, none of us knows how consumers are going to act in a post-COVID world just yet, so this may all be fantasy at this point!

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Ditto. Customer connections are enhanced — it’s the personal touch and how they hand off the goods that forces a contact and a personal greeting, maybe even a callout by the customers name, where before they may have just gone through a self-checkout or watched as the cashier rung up goods. Curbside improves the customer experience.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I think that’s a bit of a fantasy about loyalty. If I were going to order online, why go through the effort to go through traffic, find a curb to sit at like a taxi cab waiting for someone, somewhere to bring me my purchase? We differ on this and that’s fine.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I’ve always felt curbside was the front-runner for online order fulfillment — at least in grocery. Curbside pickup is more comfortable and more convenient for mobile shoppers who need flexibility. No melting ice cream on the doorstep if you get home 10 minutes late. No crushed produce from the delivery truck. As for dry goods and hard lines, I think it remains to be seen. But I expect the spread of popularity to continue.