This article is provided by BRC Associate Member and Partner, Medallia.

Retailers that deliver an exceptional ‘Buy Online Pickup Curbside’ customer experience have an incredible opportunity to win loyalty and increase revenue.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down retail locations for a period of time, customer expectations of curbside pickup rapidly shifted from a nice-to-have to a must-have in order to protect the health and safety of customers. Over the last few months, we have seen how the Buy Online Pickup Curbside experience is changing customer behavior. The result is a new customer expectation in the fulfillment experience that seems likely to last far beyond the pandemic.

The Covid pandemic and the dramatic increase in online shopping it prompted allowed the UK’s ecommerce sector to enjoy the highest online sales growth in 13 years. Total online retail sales growth for 2020 was up 36% year-on-year – the highest annual growth seen since 2007, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index. With the year being underscored by lockdowns and restrictions on the consumer way of life, the full year growth figure significantly outperformed the start-of-year prediction of 7.8 %.

Meanwhile, a recent consumer research report showed that 87% of consumers surveyed said brands should continue to offer options like curbside pickup that limit the need for in-person interaction. So what started as a necessity for health concerns is becoming a convenience that consumers likely won’t want to give up post-pandemic. That leads to a massive opportunity for retailers.

To see just how important curbside pickup has become, we analyzed online shopping behavior, transactional signals and data from Medallia’s Text Analytics platform from 25 leading retailers that have the Buy Online Pickup Curbside (BOPUC) micro-moment in their fulfillment channel. Brands were then ranked by their overall BOPUC Net Promoter Score® (NPS) and financial outcomes as publicly reported on earning calls.

Streamlined Buy Online Pickup Curbside Experience Pays Off

According to the analysis, the leading retail brands that transformed the Buy Online Pickup Curbside experience have realized tangible gains in customer loyalty, which has translated directly to repeat purchases and increased revenue during the recent holiday season. For this data set, the top five retailers in the BOPUC experience saw a 165% increase in NPS, nearly four times more online visits from consumers than other retailers in the set and revenue increases of about 225% per transaction.

What’s more, 45% of customers at these 25 brands selected curbside pickup as their means of fulfillment, well ahead of in-store pickup and delivery options, signifying BOPUC’s increasing popularity. Within that set of customers, the reason most often cited for using the curbside pickup option was the word “convenience.”

When retailers get the Buy Online Pickup Curbside experience right, it pays off. According to the analysis, customers who had a great BOPUC experience, otherwise known as promoters, subsequently visited the retailer online over five more times in November compared to those who didn’t have a great experience (detractors). By contrast, detractors only visited the online stores 1.4 more times.