Socially distant shopping

Drive-through rules

How toget hybrid retail right

 



Mar 6th2021 | words 510

 

Fromdrive-in cinemas to drive-through restaurants, Americans love doing thingswithout getting out of their cars. During the covid-19 pandemic they have takento shopping in a similar fashion, too. Kerbside pickup, where buyers vehiclespull up to retail outlets and dedicated staff help load online orders into theboot, helped supermarket chains notch up a banner year. One in two Americanshoppers used kerbside or in-store collection last year, according to a surveyby ShipStation, a maker of shipping software.

 

No bigretailer in America can do without kerbside pickup. Those that had it beforethe pandemic, including Target, Walmart and Kohls, have expanded theirofferings. On March 2nd Target reported record digital sales, which accountedfor two-thirds of revenue growth last year. These were powered by suchdrive-up purchases, which ballooned more than six-fold in the final quarterof 2020. Shops that lacked kerbside operations hurriedly created them fromscratch. Some analyses have found that around 60% of American retailers nowhave the service, twice the share 12 months ago.

 

Evenmalls, which were struggling before the pandemic added to their woes asself-isolating consumers moved en masse to online purchases, are giving it awhirl. Sarah Fossen, head of marketing at Rosedale Centre, a mall nearMinneapolis with 150 retail tenants, recalls starting a service with parkingspace set aside for kerbside pickup at two entrances, only to discover thatthere was sufficient demand to add such space at all five main entrances.

 

Successfulefforts get a number of things right, says Tom Enright of Gartner, a researchfirm. Some of the imperatives are straightforward (install clear signs, offersufficient parking space). Others require retailers to make bigger changes;since they do not have to lug stuff to their car themselves, for example, kerbsideshoppers often buy bulkier crates of bottled water or bigger bags of pet food.A bit of technological nous comes in handy. Some retailers are, for instance,using location tracking in their apps to know when exactly customers mightarrive, so as to minimise waiting times, says Jean Chick of Deloitte, aconsultancy.

 

Somewaiting will be inevitable. But, says Mike Robinson, who used to run digitaloperations at Macys, a big department-store chain, the period in line need notbe wasted. Lingering customers could be enticed with other offerings, frompromotions to new products, in the same way that you might grab a chocolate barwhile waiting at the cashier. It is the perfect time to engage shoppers, MrRobinson says.

 

Manyshops still have to crack important aspects of this transition. Most are notequipped for returns or exchanges and lack a seamless way for customers to addand pay for last-minute items. Retailers could improve the experience withpop-up tables in the parking lot stocked with popular items. As Mr Enrightnotes, If kerbside is going to replace an in-store experience, it has to bringa lot of those in-store experiences out into the parking lot.







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Economist | Socially distant shopping

 

 

Socially distant shopping

Drive-through rules

How toget hybrid retail right

 



Mar 6th2021 | words 510

 

Fromdrive-in cinemas to drive-through restaurants, Americans love doing thingswithout getting out of their cars. During the covid-19 pandemic they have takento shopping in a similar fashion, too. Kerbside pickup, where buyers vehiclespull up to retail outlets and dedicated staff help load online orders into theboot, helped supermarket chains notch up a banner year. One in two Americanshoppers used kerbside or in-store collection last year, according to a surveyby ShipStation, a maker of shipping software.

 

No bigretailer in America can do without kerbside pickup. Those that had it beforethe pandemic, including Target, Walmart and Kohls, have expanded theirofferings. On March 2nd Target reported record digital sales, which accountedfor two-thirds of revenue growth last year. These were powered by suchdrive-up purchases, which ballooned more than six-fold in the final quarterof 2020. Shops that lacked kerbside operations hurriedly created them fromscratch. Some analyses have found that around 60% of American retailers nowhave the service, twice the share 12 months ago.

 

Evenmalls, which were struggling before the pandemic added to their woes asself-isolating consumers moved en masse to online purchases, are giving it awhirl. Sarah Fossen, head of marketing at Rosedale Centre, a mall nearMinneapolis with 150 retail tenants, recalls starting a service with parkingspace set aside for kerbside pickup at two entrances, only to discover thatthere was sufficient demand to add such space at all five main entrances.

 

Successfulefforts get a number of things right, says Tom Enright of Gartner, a researchfirm. Some of the imperatives are straightforward (install clear signs, offersufficient parking space). Others require retailers to make bigger changes;since they do not have to lug stuff to their car themselves, for example, kerbsideshoppers often buy bulkier crates of bottled water or bigger bags of pet food.A bit of technological nous comes in handy. Some retailers are, for instance,using location tracking in their apps to know when exactly customers mightarrive, so as to minimise waiting times, says Jean Chick of Deloitte, aconsultancy.

 

Somewaiting will be inevitable. But, says Mike Robinson, who used to run digitaloperations at Macys, a big department-store chain, the period in line need notbe wasted. Lingering customers could be enticed with other offerings, frompromotions to new products, in the same way that you might grab a chocolate barwhile waiting at the cashier. It is the perfect time to engage shoppers, MrRobinson says.

 

Manyshops still have to crack important aspects of this transition. Most are notequipped for returns or exchanges and lack a seamless way for customers to addand pay for last-minute items. Retailers could improve the experience withpop-up tables in the parking lot stocked with popular items. As Mr Enrightnotes, If kerbside is going to replace an in-store experience, it has to bringa lot of those in-store experiences out into the parking lot.







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