Omnichannel seems to have maintained its momentum. Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights surveyed 1,069 online shoppers in February 2023, and we found interesting comparisons to March 2022’s survey of 1,132 online shoppers. Though one might expect shoppers to be curtailing their omnichannel activities, our findings indicate that instead they are here to stay from BOPIS to curbside pickups.
Mobile is fueling omnichannel activity as shoppers leverage retailer apps for an array of uses. The breadth of categories shopped and the consumer’s interest in conducting even more omnichannel shopping in 2023 means retailers who elevate their game will be rewarded.
When it comes to omnichannel interest, online shoppers reach and exceed prior-year levels. Year-over-year, those activities that stood out included checking online for product availability at a nearby store and BOPIS orders.
Online shoppers are embracing omnichannel activities, from checking inventory availability to in-store pickup to same-day delivery
Checking inventory availability is now integral to the online shopping experience. For starters, 68% of online shoppers have checked online for nearby store availability.
Online shoppers have also readily adopted in-store pickup, curbside and its associated conveniences. Half of the survey respondents have completed an in-store pickup while 35% have taken advantage of curbside or drive-up options. 11% have ordered online to a pickup location other than the store of purchase as retailers give shoppers more choices.
In-store activity includes being able to find and place orders across the enterprise. When shopping in-store, 23% have checked for inventory at another location and 11% have placed an order for delivery when inventory was not available. Additional purchase behavior is a revenue driver, with 26% spending more money during store pickups and 17% doing so when completing a return.
Shopper interest in getting products faster results in their taking advantage of same-day options from both web-only (38%) and store-based retailers (31%).
32% of shoppers welcome loyalty programs across all channels where omnichannel benefits are seen as desirable.
Return behavior means choices in both methods and locations. 24% of survey participants returned their Amazon orders to another retailer like Kohl’s, while 19% used a nearby Amazon return center. Just 4% completed a curbside return, though with Target announcing this service, numbers could quickly grow.
In-store and curbside pickup activity
On a side note: 11% used financing to make store pickup purchases. Meanwhile, 9% completed an in-store pickup after viewing an ad while streaming.
One measure of online shopper interest is the volume of in-store or curbside pickups in 2022 vs. pre-COVID. Shoppers are aggressive in their use of omnichannel options. 68% are doing more of these in-store and curbside pickup transactions post-COVID. A quarter are doing about the same, and only 7% are doing less, which bodes well for growth.
Shoppers embrace in-store and curbside pickups. There seems to be an uber-omnichannel shopper who leverages this service quite often. 35% of surveyed omnichannel shoppers completed 11 or more in-store or curbside pickups in the past six months. 61% made between one and 10 omnichannel transactions.
Over half of surveyed shoppers have completed a store pickup at Walmart and Target
Beyond those two mass merchants, the breadth of their omnichannel purchase categories is also a positive. Many categories are seeing strong interest as well, with hardware and home improvement (37%) and department stores (34%) leading the charge. One in five shoppers completed an omnichannel purchase in the consumer electronics, apparel/accessory or health and beauty categories. The upside is they are likely to select this option when considering future needs and are willing to test with new retailers given their past experiences.
Shopper satisfaction with in-store and/or curbside pickup is strong
Strong satisfaction rates will continue to accelerate omnichannel adoption and frequency. Seasoned omnichannel retailers and newbies rose to the occasion, executing in-store and curbside initiatives well. A quick look at the excellent (9-10 score) for BOPIS at 60% and curbside at 52% is impressive. When addressing 7+ scores (BOPIS at 83% and curbside at 75%), there is still room for improvement, but fairly strong numbers have been secured.
A smooth experience, store wait times, product availability and initial turnaround once an order was placed drive shopper satisfaction
The quality of the overall experience is most important to shopper satisfaction, and here that starts with the pickup experience, which was smooth and confusion-free for 40% of those surveyed.
Knowing the product is in stock for same-day pickup is a critical first step for shoppers and fosters a willingness to use this channel.
Timing matters, from the initial “ready for pickup” notification to turnaround at the store and wait time, along with communication.
Important factors for omnichannel shoppers
- Wait time upon arrival at the store: 37%
- Same day pickup availability: 35%
- Turnaround time when store pickup is ready: 29%
- Ability to schedule within desired time windows: 25%
Convenient locations are critical to an efficient experience. 20% noted store location hours for pickup being important, along with the ease of finding the in-store (18%) or parking lot location (17%).
14% cited retailer communication as being key. The human experience, while important, does not play as significant a role in shopper satisfaction, as only 17% of respondents called it out. Lastly, the retailer’s mobile app was a factor in the score for 14%.
Time savings, convenience, and an avoidance of the store and shipping fees propel online shoppers to choose omnichannel options
It all starts with omnichannel’s ability to save time, as almost 48% of surveyed shoppers put it top of the list. Second to time savings was convenience at 47%. Speed played a role as well for the 34% who needed product faster than home delivery would allow and the 32% who wanted product the same day. For the remainder, 16% appreciated the ability to get whatever else they might need at the store while the weather played a role for 16%. 13% didn’t want to bring children inside the store.
The store avoidance factor is in play for 38%, and 20% just felt this was a safer option in a post-COVID world.
Money was also a consideration, with 36% looking to avoid shipping fees. For some of us true shoppers, 17% can exercise greater control this way and refrain from making impulse purchases in store.
Along the same lines, 29% can zero in and get exactly what they need. Meanwhile, 21% felt more confident they would get product given inventory constraints. 19% shared that curbside/in-store availability helped when product was not in stock online and available for delivery.
Online shoppers leverage apps to buy and facilitate omnichannel activities
Over the years, I have seen steady improvement to the apps making it even more desirable to choose the omnichannel option. It appears I’m not alone.
Apps are fostering shopper activity at all points in the omnichannel journey. Our survey respondents were active, including buying a product (45%), locating a product in store (34%), and facilitating an in-store or curbside pickup (28%). And 13% indicated they were even incentivized by the retailer, which is an added bonus.
The in-store experience has been altered as well. App store interactions including the use of QR codes to gather information and make purchases continues, as 24% cited. Some in-store checkout by individuals (18%) and associates (13%) is taking place, and 14% have opted to make a mobile purchase while in the store. This all suggests that the mobile phone is an invaluable device for shoppers. If the past is any indication, once tested, behavior appears to be adopted.
Shoppers also embrace a range of mobile activities with growing influence, including:
- Took product image and did an image search with retailer to find a product match: 15%
- Used QR code in non-store physical location: 13%
- Made a purchase after interacting with an ad on a mobile device: 10%
Shoppers use mobile devices to connect with retailer associates. 10% have texted a retailer for customer service and 6% have scheduled and completed a virtual appointment.
One important gauge of the app’s importance can be seen when participants were asked, “When it comes time to placing or picking up an order for in-store or curbside pickup, which best describes your usage of the retailer’s app?”
With seven in 10 frequently or exclusively using the app, this serves as an excellent testament to its value.
Apps are facilitating shopper activity including the buying, locating and facilitating of in-store product pickup. The three-year growth curve (2023-2021) remains impressive. The most critical aspects remain relatively consistent as detailed below (in reverse-chronological order):
- Buy a product: 45%/44%/49%
- Locate a product in store: 34%/31%/31%
- Facilitate in-store or curbside pickup: 28%/25%/28%
The app facilitates communication before and during store pickups
Mobile apps excel when it comes to communication. At the top of the list for desirability among omnichannel shoppers was being notified the order is ready (60%). Next, 47% appreciated getting text notifications about the order. Other communication elements that were seen as desirable were the ability to communicate with a retailer upon arrival at the store location (31%) and to notify the retailer you are on the way (34%).
The app’s ease of use propels online shoppers to adopt omnichannel even more, and 42% believe it is easier to shop on the app. The app’s efficiency is important for locating inventory, as 39% of survey respondents enjoy being able to find where products are available.
Online shoppers also appreciate the convenience of mobile communication. This includes saving gift cards and coupons (35%), as well as storing one’s personal profile, including payment and vehicle information (28%) and tools such as shopping lists (18%).
29% of survey respondents also noted merchandising offers, as they are able to peruse promotions and see the trends retailers highlighted.
Our survey ends on a positive note. 33% of survey respondents anticipate their in-store and curbside pickup volume will be more in 2023. The majority (58%) say it will be about the same and only 9% say less.
Shoppers continue to tell us that they like the omnichannel options for picking up a product. We can expect that retailers will invest to continually improve their mobile apps to best support the experience. The convenience it provides is impressive, and it’s hard to beat the time-savings. Now, it’s about maintaining today’s high satisfaction rates with strong execution critical for growth.
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