During the pandemic, retailers faced once-in-a-lifetime headwinds, including closed physical locations, limited in-store capacity, slowed shipping times, and a customer that was oftentimes scared to leave the house. As a result, they turned heavily to buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, pick up at curbside (BOPAC) to make their customers’ buying journeys easier. These options combine the benefits of convenience and instant gratification, while making the shopping process safer.
Prior to the pandemic, BOPIS and BOPAC were growing. However, the pandemic forced brick and mortar retailers to significantly increase investment in digital to physical shopping. And this customer behavior is here to stay. During the holiday season, BOPIS usage increased 400 percent from 2019 pre-pandemic levels. Major retailers are seeing success from adopting this omnichannel strategy. For example, by introducing BOPIS, 40 percent of Bed, Bath & Beyond‘s revenue now comes from its digital channels. Now that BOPIS and BOPAC’s are here to stay, mobile engagement must be integrated into the process.
Reduce Consumer Friction
While BOPIS and BOPAC improve the customer experience by making the consumer shopping experience easier, retailer to consumer communication is tricky during this process especially because it is so time dependent. The biggest complaint with BOPIS is that customers arrive before their order is ready. This means effective communication between the retailer and the consumer is critical to a positive customer experience.
Most retailers still use email to communicate with customers during BOPIS and BOPAC experiences. The problem with email is that 80 percent of people don’t open emails from brands. The channel just isn’t an effective way to inform customers of time-sensitive information.
With mobile engagement, and text in particular where 99 percent of all messages are read immediately, retailers can effectively alert consumers at the exact right time. Minimizing the likelihood that a customer arrives too early. The effectiveness of texting and mobile engagement is why BOPIS and BOPAC messaging is predicted to grow 45 percent in 2021.
Bridge Digital and Physical
BOPIS and BOPAC are unique omnichannel experiences, blending the safety and comfort of digital shopping with the convenience and instant gratification of physical storefronts. In order to craft a seamless experience, a hybrid solution is essential — one that bridges the customer journey from online checkout to the pickup counter or parking lot. Since the mobile device stays with the customer throughout the buying journey and because it is so effective at grabbing that customer’s attention, mobile engagement is the perfect answer to a fantastic customer experience.
Foster Engagement at Every Step
Mobile engagement provides consumers updates and information from purchase to pickup on their most trusted device. Texting confirms orders and provides notifications around merchandise availability. For example, if a shopper orders five items of clothing, text alerts can inform the consumer when all items are ready for pickup, eliminating any confusion or guesswork on the consumer’s part.
In addition, geolocation technology embedded in the app or in the mobile wallet allows a retailer to alert a customer when they enter a set radius from a physical store, reminding them of an order ready for pickup and re-sharing the order information. Mobile engagement significantly eliminates the friction involved with a customer struggling to find their confirmation number or a barcode to scan.
Mobile wallet goes beyond consumer convenience and provides retailers with secure authentication so they can be sure they are fulfilling the correct order to the correct customer. This will eliminate fulfillment errors and fraud.
Fulfillment Options Are Best Driven by Mobile
Mobile messaging will continue to improve the BOPIS and BOPAC experience for customers. It allows retailers to cost-effectively compete with the rapid delivery offerings of competitors like Amazon and direct-to-consumer brands, while delivering on the streamlined shopping and service expectations of consumers. BOPIS and BOPAC are just one aspect of a retailer’s mobile engagement strategy.
In the final part of the State of Mobile series, I’ll explore four ways retailers can establish a holistic mobile engagement strategy.
Alex Campbell is the co-founder and chief information officer at Vibes, a pioneer in mobile marketing engagement.
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