A year of quick pivots for the retail industry, 2020 required brands to rapidly adjust their spaces to account for social distancing and the safety measures of consumers, staff and everyone in between. In order to lean into creating safer environments, we saw the rise of flexible fulfillment and contactless payments.
This has accelerated the evolution of the role physical stores play, from a point-of-discovery to a point-of-pickup. But with the increase of curbside pickup and BOPIS, retail runs the risk of easily becoming overladen with transactional moments. Instead, retailers must focus on harnessing the opportunity to transform from click-and-collect to click-and-connect with end users.
Highlighted by a November 2020 report, “Retailers who discussed BOPIS more often in the last three years have outperformed their competitors during the pandemic.” As we reflect back, we know that BOPIS and curbside have become essential services with long-term practicality. With this validation and the transformation of the store into a point of pickup, 2021 is destined to be a year of refining and enhancing in-store environments, bringing to life experiences that deliver points of gratification at these otherwise mundane transactional moments.
According to The Lion’esque Group’s most recent retail industry trends study, a clear majority of consumers believe that curbside and BOPIS create a positive retail experience, with 3X as many consumers reporting these services are necessary than those that say they’re not. We would also be remiss to talk about fulfillment without addressing the adoption of contactless payments, which 80% of respondents have confirmed using in the past year, and who would rate the experience as high-quality.
While the pandemic has certainly accelerated the adoption of these services, consumer expectations justify consideration and implementation of a proactive retail space design that includes these as core features, providing consumers with a satisfying experience — and one that they will return to more frequently.
With the data obtained from our Q4 2020 state of retail design and industry survey, here are the initial insights we’ve garnered that allow us to help our retail clients go the extra mile:
- Flexibility in service location matters.
Creating an effective, flexible fulfillment program relies on understanding the priorities and differences of consumers who utilize the service. The customers we surveyed gave a uniform assessment of what entails a high-quality curbside service, favoring features that create a quick, convenient process: 60% of consumers chose “same-day pickup” or “notifications when orders are ready” as their top retail experience priority for 2021 and beyond, a clear indication that curbside programs must continue to cater to an on-demand consumer mindset by enhancing visibility around order status. In stark contrast, only 10% of consumers we surveyed indicated additional services — like a coffee bar— would be one of their top three priorities for an in-store feature.
Per our survey study, we also found that 56% of women believe easy access to their purchase’s point-of-pickup, as well as a seamless returns process, add the most value to their BOPIS encounters. This data gives brands analyzing the future of their in-store experiences invaluable insights into how to accommodate an ideal customer journey.
2. Optimizing for “try before you buy” opportunities can make all the difference.
Even in the age of COVID, consumers value the opportunity to immediately connect with a product and truly “make it theirs” upon purchase. When asked, 62% of men shopping at brick-and-mortar locations prioritize the ability to try on and demo a product at the point-of-pickup, as well as the ability to discard packaging before leaving the store.
This data point validates an opportunity for brands to take a more holistic approach around in-store pickup, and may warrant the consideration of a larger footprint to ensure a positive experience for consumers while they shop.
3. Cross-selling is still possible. You just have to get creative.
The rapid transition from traditional in-store shopping experiences to BOPIS has, for many retailers, diminished consumers’ impulse purchases, affecting their bottom line. The truth is, however, consumers are still willing to further engage at pickup: 65% of men and 48% of women report making additional in-store purchases when using BOPIS. The key is to flexibly optimize for these experiences, giving an opportunity for strategic merchandising to capture a captive customer while in-store, increasing their dwell time and basket size.
The lines are blurring across demographics when it comes to online/offline fluidity. The best-positioned brands and retailers will be those that design for delight, maintaining an emotional connection with their consumers regardless of touch point.
The validation of flexible fulfillment is not just a trend, it is essential to ensure we design great experiences that deliver points of satisfaction for brands and their customers. In 2021 and beyond, brands can set themselves apart from the competition by creating environments that deliver a myriad of flexible experiences that are delightful to customers, not just transactional.
By understanding the pain points and points of gratification along a customer’s journey, we can design experiences that garner goodwill and capture loyalty. Every touch point is an opportunity to surprise and delight and be in service of their needs at that moment. And after an unprecedented year, that personal touch is exactly what we all need.
More on TLG Survey Results
Survey Participant Numbers
49.5% ages 18-44
50.5% ages 45+
21% 150K +
Continually pushing the boundaries of experiential retail, Melissa Gonzalez is an award-winning innovator and storyteller. She is the CEO of The Lion’esque Group, an MG2 company (where she is also a principal), pioneering the integration of physical environments and digital retail to help brands such as Purple, Nordstrom, and Burrow foster consumer engagement and evolve their offering.