Mar 09, 2021

Smart Retailers are Picking Up on Curbside Pickup

As consumer shopping habits change, smart retailers change with them. The recent surge in online shopping, for example, has led to a surge in curbside and in-store pickup. As these changes aren’t going away anytime soon, smart retailers are providing more options for curbside and in-store pickup.

To help us all better understand how these changes in consumer behavior affect the world of retail, our own Jennifer Philo, Blackhawk Network GVP of US Digital Commerce and Loyalty, took part in a PaymentsJournal podcast. You can listen to the entire podcast here, or keep reading for highlights.

Changes are here to stay.

“It’s been such an interesting time for us to see the changing dynamics with the consumer,” said Philo. "They’ve adapted so quickly to changing shopping behaviors as a result of COVID.” It’s been more than just interesting, of course. Curbside and in-store pickup has already been trending up. But like many aspects of retail, the pandemic accelerated both adoption and innovation.

“We saw 85% of our customer base select digital over plastic,” Philo continued, “which was pretty staggering for us here at Blackhawk Network, to see that shift so quickly.” Blackhawk Network maintains an ongoing dialog with consumers, so they’re on top of trends and changing habits. “Most of them tell us that those shopping behavior changes and preferences will be permanent after the pandemic.”

In fact, according to Blackhawk Network’s 2020 Multinational BrandedPay Report, 78% of surveyed US consumers expect permanent changes in their shopping experience, with 44% saying they’re unlikely to shift back to their former shopping behavior once the country reopens.

What does all this mean for retailers? The sooner you adapt, the better.

It’s all about convenience and speed.

For the foreseeable future, it’s all about speed and convenience, said Philo. “We know through our research that they’re the two motivators for shoppers,” she explained. “76% of consumers that we surveyed reported convenience as their top motivation for shopping in- store, and 56% cited speed of purchase as a top motivator." Philo says retailers need to take those factors into account immediately and incorporate them into new and/or improved services and offerings, like buying online and picking up at curbside or in the store.

“In many ways,” said Philo, “consumer comfort is built along streamlined payments and gifting technologies that can integrate into the fast-paced nature of today’s consumer.”

Time to engage with customers in new ways.

To accommodate their customers’ new shopping behaviors, retailers must be proactive in adding and optimizing omnichannel capabilities and experiences, including curbside and in-store pickup. As you go through the process, you'll want to make sure these items are on your to-do list:

  • Make sure the new processes are seamless and easy for the consumer.
  • Update internal systems and point-of-sale.
  • Put together a simple employee training program.
  • Post a sign to let consumers know that these new ways to engage are available.
  • Also, make sure consumers know these new systems are safe and secure.

“We’re just now seeing all these systems converge and they have to work,” said Philo. “We are very focused on that seamless interaction for touchless, contactless, fast payments, leveraging gift card rails to make sure that this is seamless for the customer. We want them to trust it and adopt it and make it part of how they interact with retailers moving forward.”

One suggestion: Enhance curbside pickup with gift cards.

Whether shopping in store or online, consumers want access to the same products and services. This includes gift cards, a popular (and profitable) offering for grocery retailers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a way to include gift cards as part of a curbside pickup shopping experience.

To better serve both customers and their retail partners, Blackhawk Network quickly developed a seamless curbside pickup at-home activation solution. Now, shoppers can buy gift cards online—along with their other groceries— and have them delivered right to their cars.

“We’ve been working really hard with our retail partners to train and make sure they deliver this in a really safe, secure manner for the customer that feels similar to the original shopping experience,” Philo said proudly. “It’s fast. It works. And it’s safe.”

There are a few decisions retailers will need to make before offering the Blackhawk Network solution, such as how to handle inventory, fulfillment and customer service. But the end result is a win-win for both retailers and their customers.

In conclusion.

In-store and curbside pickup are contactless shopping experiences that have been growing at a rapid pace. For smart retailers looking to keep up, investing in solutions like Blackhawk Network’s curbside pickup and at-home activation makes a lot of sense.

“Those are the retailers that are going to win,” concluded Philo, “the ones that are looking at consumer behavior and driving innovation to keep that consumer moving.”

This podcast was produced and is hosted by PaymentsJournal at: