A new study using secret shoppers to test in-store and curbside order customer service unveiled deep gaps in customer experience, a plague of orders not being ready and stores suffering for having no dedicated pickup areas.
"Just offering ‘order for pickup’ or ‘delivery’ is not as simple as adding a feature on your website or app and marketing the service," said Jaron Waldman, co-founder and CEO of Rakuten Ready, the mobile commerce platform that conducted the 2019 Time Study. "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," added Waldman, who was recently named as one of WGB’s 2019 Grocery Game Changers.
Rakuten Ready enlisted secret shoppers to evaluate the order-for-pickup customer experience and wait times at 25 top quick-service restaurants, retail and grocery brands across the U.S.
H-E-B and Whole Foods were the only two grocery retailers which made it to the top rankings. Others that scored among the best were Chipotle, Panera and Starbucks, all of which came out on top for fastest in-store pickup times overall, while Best Buy and Nordstrom were named as the retailers with best retail experiences.
Specific to the grocery sector, H-E-B had 16% of curbside pickup orders ready in less than two minutes, compared to Albertsons, with zero percent.
San Mateo, Calif.-based Rakuten Ready deployed secret shoppers to conduct more than 750 trips between July and August, empowering them to rate experiences based on factors such as convenience of parking spots, dedicated pickup areas, readiness of the order and staff aptitude for handling orders. Rakuten Ready said the goal of the study is to provide insights into the best and worst practices and help brands improve their own experiences as pickup continues to grow in popularity with customers nationwide.
“Smartphones and apps like Uber, DoorDash, Grubhub and Postmates have rewired customer behaviors and expectations and changed the game for retailers, quick-service restaurants and grocery,” said author Brian Solis. “Brands must now rethink business and operational models to not only keep up with evolving customer demands but also grow new markets. Those that do win. Those that don't will lose.”