US survey insights: how consumers feel about contactless curbside pickup in retail

Dylan Brown
by Dylan Brown

With a large number of retailers forced to close up shop to stop the spread of Covid-19, many are still relying on online shopping and curbside collection services to continue driving sales during this crucial period in the retail calendar year.

As a direct result of the outbreak, consumers are noticeably more open, aware and eager for curbside collection services, as they enable consumers to collect online orders without waiting in physical queues or coming into physical contact with other consumers or store staff.

Find out more about curbside pickup software.

In April 2020 and October 2020 Qudini surveyed 2,000 US consumers to understand their opinions around surbside collection services before and during the pandemic. This report presents some of our key findings.

April 2020 survey of 2,000+ consumers

The demand for curbside collection services before Covid-19

At the start of the April 2020 lockdown our first survey to 2,000 US consumers showed that outside of the Coronavirus pandemic curbside collection had not yet become widespread. Only 14% of survey respondents frequently used BOPIS services, 31% did so occasionally and 31% did so rarely. A third (24%) of Americans never used the service.

Baby Boomers were the least likely to use BOPIS services outside of the pandemic, with only 4% doing so frequently. This made them 5 time less frequent users than GenX customers where 20% would use these service frequently.

The demand for BOPIS services during Covid-19

However, despite the different generational uses of BOPIS prior to the pandemic, when asked if they would be more likely to use collection services during the pandemic (even when stores are open in order to reduce time spent inside a store), the majority said they were more likely.

For essential retail types (grocery and pharmacy), the consumer behaviors are almost identical. An average of 67% of respondents said they are more likely to use BOPIS services and 25% said they are equally likely to use BOPIS services.

When it came to “Other retailers in general”, 50% said they are more likely than normal to use BOPIS services during the Coronavirus outbreak and 35% said they are equally likely.

As these questions were asked at the start of the pandemic, the responses suggested that Covid-19 would drive a significant growth of omni-channel behaviors amongst all age demographics.

October 2020 survey of 2,000+ consumers

This October 2020 we sent out a new survey to 2,000 US consumers about how retailers (even when stores were open) could improve their store safety and experience during the pandemic and found that:

Overall, 82% of consumers said they would find contactless pickup services that enable them to collect their orders from outside of store useful from at least one store.

An overwhelming 81% of GenZ consumers said they would find curbside pickup services useful, while almost 85% of Millennials said the same.

Three quarters of Baby Boomers said they would find contactless pickup services useful during the pandemic.

Female consumers are marginally more likely to find contactless BOPIS services useful than male consumers.

Consumers with a household income of more than $50k per year are significantly more likely to say curbside pickup would be useful.

Those from the $150k to $300k income bracket are the most likely to want the service, with 24% saying it was the case.

Learn more about curbside pickup software.

Demand for BOPIS across different store types

Younger consumers showed a strong interest in the concept of contactless curbside pickup from outside of stores, particularly within grocery retail stores (54%), but also heavily within pharmacies (45%), department stores (29%), electronics stores (27%), health food stores (27%) and pet stores (27%).

Across all industries, Baby Boomers are likely than younger generations to want pickup services from outside of stores at grocery stores and pharmacies, while Millennial and GenZ consumers are more likely to want the service across other stores types.


The impact of contactless curbside pickup on consumer behavior

Overall, consumers responded positively to the idea of contactless curbside pickup services, including:

Higher household income brackets also report being more likely to buy something online and to visit the retailers stores in general if they were to offer a contactless pickup service from outside of the store.

These insights demonstrate that higher household income groups have greater expectations and needs from modern retailers’ services and they are more likely to spend money with the brand in return for it.

How do consumers prefer to check-in to curbside pickup?

When asked how they would most like to check-in to store for a contactless order pickup; texting an SMS code and using a link in the order confirmation email were the most popular methods, followed by using a self-service tablet and scanning a QR code. Checking in through the store team via a host or customer service desk was less preferred.

Millennial and GenZ customers showed greater interest in checking in via most check-in methods, with the biggest difference being that they are 2 times more likely to check-in using a QR code or 3 times more likely via a self-service tablet kiosk.

Baby Boomers are 4 times more likely to choose to check-in via SMS codes and 3 times more likely via the retailer’s app or confirmation email than they are by QR codes or self-service tablets.

Creating effective signage for your curbside pickup service

To create a clear and efficient curbside pickup customer journey, it’s vital that retailers create effective and easy to understand signage.

Examples of clear and useful curbside pickup signage.

To help our clients to create clear signage for their curbside pickup offering, we’ve pulled together a guide.

How to create effective signage for curbside pickup services. 

How curbside pickup works:

Find out more about curbside pickup here.

Overall, our survey insights found that while wait lines are costing retailers significant revenue opportunity, virtual wait line systems serve as a powerful antidote that can even enable retailers to turn a typically negative experience into something that increases sales both online and offline, while driving strong customer relationships in the process.

Download the full survey report here


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