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May 26, 2020 | 4 minute read

Better BOPAC: 6 Ways to Improve Curbside Pickup in the “New Normal”

written by Linda Bustos

Pre-COVID, 40% of shoppers said buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS or click-and-collect) was their most valued retail shopping experience, with BOPIS behavior growing 30% from 2018.

Today, curbside pickup is the BOPIS delivery model of choice (dubbed BOPAC - or "buy online pick up at curb") as we navigate this “new normal.” Both consumers and merchants have adapted fast, with curbside pickup doubling year over year and 59% of consumers polled in April saying they're likely to continue choosing curbside pickup due to the pandemic.

Among retailers not offering curbside pickup, one third say they're scrambling to offer the service as quickly as possible.

But what was designed for convenience can be anything but in today’s chaotic climate of social distancing, limited store hours and reduced staffing. Many retailers require customers to call from the parking lot (and battle the busy signal), endure lengthy in-car wait times or even queue to get into the store to flag down an associate.

What’s more, many new-to-curbside merchants are still working out the kinks in their systems and processes, and lack the back-end management that helps connect customer service with curbsiders. 

6 ways to close the curbside pickup experience gap

Support SMS

Emails can get lost, buried and worse, go unread -- while 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of receiving them. Thanks to their visibility, convenience and speed, more than 50% of consumers prefer text communications with businesses over telephone (and supporting SMS also keeps your phone lines free for those that prefer voice).

But the best text experiences aren’t one-sided. Supporting two-way texting between customers and staffers provides the optimal experience -- even if it’s an AI-driven chatbot pushing back canned responses (40% of shoppers don’t care if it’s a bot or a human texting, and 27% can’t tell the difference).

Enhance pickup logistics

With social distancing policies still in place and lineups to get into most stores, giving customers the ability to minimize curbside lineup waits (or stay in their cars!) helps speed the pickup process. SMS messaging enables customers to notify staffers when they’ve arrived, and even remain in their cars by sending details on their location and car make and model.

For example, Object Edge’s Curbspot curbside solution provides an interface to enter this info:

curbspot order is ready push notification

Consider BOPIS-bots and GPS

To truly Uber-ify curbside pickup, consider integrating BOPIS with chatbots and GPS in your progressive web application (PWA). Customers can initiate their “trip” as they leave their home through your web app, and pickups can be right-timed with their arrival and location on the curb or in your lot.

Personalize post-purchase

Without the in-store visit, curbside orders lose the opportunity to drive additional in-store purchases -- 85% of BOPIS shoppers say they’ve bought additional items in-store during a pickup trip.

To pick up this slack, consider pushing personalized cross-sells and upsells post-online purchase to “add to” an order based on popular in-stock items at the pickup location, a customer’s local purchase history or other add-ons. In this post-purchase flow, remind customers that making fewer trips for more items is most convenient during times of social distancing, reduced store hours and more frequent stockouts.

Promote post-pickup

Another way to boost the basket value of each curbside pickup is to offer incentives to shop again. For example, Object Edge’s Curbspot supports post-pickup coupons and deals for future purchases (combined with an opportunity to send feedback on their experience).

curbside pickup post purchase order

Support store associates

Don’t forget the user experience on your back end! Giving staff a better way to manage curbside orders and co-ordinate with customers (especially when customers can’t be found or are no-shows) that’s intuitive and easy to onboard to is key to a seamless curbside experience and customer satisfaction.

curbside pickup back end interface

If you’re using a plug-and-play accelerator such as Curbspot, make sure its back end is user-friendly. If you’re building a custom curbside pickup solution, remember the features you want to provide your staff: view all pickup orders, view customer-ready orders, view orders out for pickup (or to pickup within a certain time frame), and completed pickups.

How headless commerce supports curbside pickup

API-driven headless commerce allows you to create new experiences such as adding new curbside pickup flows to cart and checkout, connect inventory and order management to chatbots and SMS messengers, and plug these pieces into progressive web applications or customized UIs for back end users and store associates -- all without adding code to your platform itself.

If you already have a BOPIS solution and want to adopt enhanced features now, you can add Curbspot to any ecommerce platform in about an hour with no coding and no cost for 30 days. Check out for more details

For more articles on how headless commerce supports digital transformation, check out our headless commerce archive.