How to Streamline the Holiday Order Pickup Process for Customers & Employees

Ahh, the holidays, a time for giving and cheer…and loud holiday music while you’re fighting crowds for the most beloved toy or gadget of 2019. For many retailers, their holiday season performance determines the company’s trajectory into 2020. One tactic projected to change the game for many this holiday season is a strong buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) program. To many consumers (myself included) who procrastinate during the holiday shopping season, the gift of a frictionless, stress-free BOPIS experience tops the wish list. Retailers who prepare their stores to meet their customer’s expectations for holiday order pickup stand miles ahead of their competition. 

Part of the holiday preparation process? Learning from last year’s mistakes and knowing what your customers expect from you. Luckily, Bell and Howell partnered with IHL and Order Dynamics to conduct a study during the 2018 holiday shopping season to help retailers understand what their customers want in a pickup experience.

Learn from In-Store Research

In “BOPIS: State of the Industry,” we asked 300 secret shoppers to evaluate their experience using the BOPIS service at the nation’s top 10 retailers. In the second installment, “BOPIS: State of the Industry Part 2: The Superior Online BOPIS Experience,” we focused on the specific elements of the online and notification experience that most impacted customers’ overall BOPIS experience. The final installment, “BOPIS: State of the Industry Part 3: A Closer Look at the In-Store Pickup Experience“, takes a deep dive into the store pickup portion of the BOPIS experience to determine which factors had the most significant effect on customer satisfaction ratings.

Also in this process, we identified several simple yet actionable insights that help retailers prepare for holiday shopping season madness. Here are a few of the key take-aways that customers say make a significant impact on their experience.

The Power of Clear Signage

We all know that first impressions pack a punch. The first detail that consumers look for when they enter a store to pick up a BOPIS order: signs. Customers seek some sort of direction to guide them to their pickup location. Although it seems like a no-brainer, this often overlooked detail significantly impacts the time it takes to complete the pickup process (more than twice as long as retailers who have clear signage). Those retailers with clear signage improved the likeliness of repeat use and recommending the service to others by 14%, as well as improving the customer’s overall pickup experience ratings by 17%.

Consistent Staffing is Essential

We all know the moment: walking around a store, looking for assistance, and asking yourself, “does anyone work here?” Please – don’t do this to your customers, especially when it comes to staffing your BOPIS service pickup area. 

Those retail locations who staff at the proper levels rated 25% higher on the overall BOPIS experience. They also are rated 25% higher during a customer-employee interaction than with inadequately staffed locations. Have your store staffed with associates devoted to helping shoppers before they get frustrated. 

Power of the Engaged Employee in Better Holiday Order Pickup

As stressful as the holiday shopping season can be, excellent customer experience can bring positive change. A wise person once said that “good customer service is hard to come by these days,” and during the holiday craziness, consider it a miracle. The quality of interactions that your associates deliver to customers can mean the difference between a one-time and repeat customer. Regarding a manual pickup experience, those who rated their experience with the associate as “extremely satisfied” ranked the likelihood of using the service again at 4.52/5.0. In contrast, those who rated their associate experience as “neither satisfied or unsatisfied” rated their likelihood of using the service again dropped to 3.5/5.0.

Pickup Automation isn’t a Silver Bullet, but it Helps… a LOT!

As mentioned, one tactic projected to be a game-changer for many retailers this holiday season is the growing adoption of the BOPIS service. With this increased adoption rate, it becomes more challenging to scale the service to meet customer expectations cost-effectively. Enter automation.

Walmart is a trailblazer in the implementation of automated pickup technology. During last year’s holiday shopping season, Walmart experienced a 60% improvement in the time it takes to complete the in-store pickup process, as well as a 12% increase in the likelihood to purchase an additional item at the store. They also saw a 13% improvement in customer satisfaction ratings. 

Those who introduce automation to their BOPIS program improve operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and, perhaps most importantly, higher retention and brand loyalty. The key to a successful program is a robust and well-thought-out process that also includes a strong associate training program.  

With Holiday Order Pickup, Time is the Ultimate Currency

Brick-and-mortar retailers make a comeback during the holiday shopping season for good reason: they save customers money shopping online. More importantly, however, is the time picking up their items at a convenient location just hours after placing their order. Ensuring that customers have a quick and frictionless BOPIS experience provides them with the best of both world. For the optimal customer pickup experience, research indicates that the entire in-store pickup process should take 4 minutes or less.

Bottom line: for smoother holiday pickup this season, stress-test your BOPIS process, put signage on clear display, properly staff your stores, and train associates to ensure your shoppers leave your stores full of holiday cheer. Need help getting started? Let us know — our automated pickup program specialists are here to help.