How Well Is Grocery Meeting Consumer Demand for Order for Pickup

Grocery order to pickup
Photograph: Shutterstock

Grocery order for pickup or “click and collect” is becoming increasingly popular as consumers realize it’s cheaper, reliable and convenient. With that in mind, grocery order for pickup is a critical area of focus for retailers.

But with order for pickup requiring retailers to align logistics, infrastructure, employee training and marketing, getting started can feel overwhelming. That’s why it can help to understand the most important part of grocery pickup services—speed.

Stores need to make sure they’re ready to go—and fast. According to data from Rakuten Ready’s 2019 Time Study, the most important metric in whether a program succeeds is time. Customers choose curbside pickup because of the time it saves them from having to shop, and previous Rakuten Ready research has found that 95% of customers said their order being ready on time is the most important aspect when rating their in-store pickup experience.

What’s more, according to Rakuten Ready order data, customers who waited less than the “magic mark” of two minutes to pick up their order were four times more likely to order again and become loyal customers.

But first, let’s look further into the Rakuten Ready study and the best practices that grocery brands need to be thinking about as they build out their order for pickup programs.

Speedy service

Over the course of hundreds of test pickups, the Rakuten Ready 2019 Time Study found that customers’ overall wait times (time spent waiting for the store to bring the order out) at the top grocery brands was a little over five minutes. H-E-B, Hy-vee and Meijer led the way in delivering orders quickest to customers, well ahead of Walmart Grocery, Raley’s and Albertsons. Rakuten Ready’s research had some other surprising findings, too. Only 7% of all orders across the brands in the study had wait times of less than two minutes, and one-third of grocery curbside pickup times were more than six minutes—that’s too long to make customers wait.

Logistics and infrastructure

Planning logistics and infrastructure for curbside pickup services can be complicated. How do shoppers know their order is ready for pickup? How do stores know when customers are near the store and that the order should be brought out? What about dedicated signage and parking so customers know where to wait? How can retailers plan space to accommodate keeping cold foods cold while pulling orders? These are just a few of the questions grocers have to answer when planning a pickup program.

Employee training

Beyond that, stores also need to ensure their employees are empowered to provide great service. Stores should implement training for workers to make sure they know how to handle curbside service and pickup. Store managers should also be sure that there are always staff on hand who know how to handle these orders so they don’t waste time once a customer has arrived.

Marketing and promotion

Marketing and promoting curbside pickup services are crucial for getting consumers to try it. The Rakuten Ready Study found that many pickup programs among top brands had lackluster marketing campaigns and limited awareness among consumers.  Little things like pop-ups on the store’s app, social media posts and e-blasts or direct mail make a big difference. And of course, don’t underestimate the power of in-store promotion. Signage as well as flyers placed into bags from checkout lane orders play a big part in spreading the word.

Along with logistics, infrastructure, training and marketing, grocers need to ensure their customers are getting a complete experience. As more customers look to grocery stores for help with their busy schedules, order for pickup will expand and become more popular. The most successful programs will be able to offer not only order accuracy, value and convenience but also swift pickup processes to ensure customers can be on their way fast.

"Just offering order for pickup is not as simple as adding a feature on your website or app and marketing the service," said Jaron Waldman, Rakuten Ready co-founder and CEO. "It is critical that brands fully understand customer expectations so they can focus on improving the end-to-end experience—particularly that dreaded last mile, which can make or break the whole experience with your brand."

Want to find out how the order for pickup experience offered at one store or brand compares to others? The Rakuten Ready 2019 Time Study highlights best practices and areas for improvement among 25 top retailers, including grocers. The insights can help any brand improve its process—specifically customer wait time—to reap the benefits of order for pickup service.

To learn more about the Rakuten Ready 2019 Time Study, visit rakutenready.com/time.

This post is sponsored by Rakuten Ready