A Mobile Solution Deployment Checklist For Curbside Delivery
Here are the five must-haves that should be on every company’s shopping list as they select the right mobile technology to support their curbside and buy online, pick up in-store operations.
Shoppers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, pushing e-commerce sales up by 44% during that period, according to DigitalCommerce360. Many of those shipments were sent directly to customers’ homes, while others took the buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) or curbside delivery route.
Two delivery options that retailers, restaurants, and other brick-and-mortar companies were experimenting with pre-COVID, BOPIS and curbside entered a time machine in early-2020 and—within just a few months of the pandemic emerging—aged several years to become mainstays for buyers and sellers alike.
Using mobile tech to adapt quickly
Even as stores closed to in-person shopping, employees were navigating the sales floor (or warehouse), picking orders and either shipping them out to customers or loading them into the trunks of their cars. By mid-2020, 58% of companies offered curbside pickup (up from 4% in 2019), and 76% were using a BOPIS delivery model (up from 66% in 2019), TotalRetail reports.
Adapting to quick and unexpected customer behaviors is never easy, but it was especially onerous during the pandemic. With people working, eating, shopping, and teaching their children from home, retailers and restaurants across the board were rethinking their systems and coming up with new ways to tackles the rigors of the evolving business environment.
For many, managing the quick uptick in curbside and BOPIS deliveries meant investing in mobile technology that untethers employees and allows them to work “without wires” in the warehouse, out on the store floor, or even in the parking lot.
Equipped with rugged laptops and tablets, mobile barcode scanners, and advanced order-picking solutions, employees can quickly and confidently receive, pick, and, fulfill orders. Using software and performance dashboards, managers can monitor overall progress and intervene when needed (e.g., when an item is out of stock or a large order isn’t being picked quickly enough to meet the customer’s desired timeframe).
Voice picking solutions, for example, can significantly improve the BOPIS or curbside order fulfillment processes by supporting greater order accuracy and productivity. “By integrating voice picking into a company’s warehouse management system or ERP solution,” Panasonic North America’s Jim Dempsey writes in TotalRetail, “warehouse workers can more easily find inventory by using a headset that points them to the product, kicking off the order fulfillment process.”
Your mobile tech checklist for curbside delivery
Much like their customers spend time selecting and curating their online shopping lists before hitting the “place order” button, retailers, restaurants, and other merchants should put time and thought into the mobile technology that supports these buyers. Here’s a checklist of five key points that should be on your list as you build out your BOPIS and curbside delivery model:
Is the device portable?
You don’t want employees to be weighed down by too many gadgets or equipment that interferes with their activities. Look for small enough devices to fit in a pocket or hung on a belt loop without creating a problem for workers as they move between the warehouse, store floor, and customer pickup areas.
Panasonic’s N1 handheld device allows employees to scan inventory as the goods are placed in a bag. This ensures that every order is right the first time. Then, the customer can have a barcode on his or her phone that the employees can scan to make sure the right order is given to the right person.
Can it function properly?
As anyone who has stepped foot on a retail floor recently knows, BOPIS and curbside offerings are fast-paced and time-constrained (think the “beep beeps” emanating from employees’ handhelds as they fill orders onto Target’s big red carts). A failed device can quickly spiral into an unhappy customer. Avoid this by selecting highly functional devices and that maintain good connectivity.
Look for equipment with long-lasting batteries, customizable buttons, and other features that support a good user experience. Ignore this point on the checklist, and the devices could wind up gathering dust on the shelf in the warehouse.
Equipped with the Panasonic N1 hip printer, for example, employees easily print off and stick a receipt in customers’ shopping bags before closing the car trunk and sending them on their way.
Is the device durable?
Once they get out into the BOPIS/curbside world, devices need to be able to survive drops, bumps, and regular sanitization, all of which can bring non-rugged options to their knees at inopportune times (e.g., when an employee is trying to print a receipt in the 15-degree weather with gloves on out in the parking lot).
Will employees find the device easy to use?
Look for user-friendly tablets, laptops, and devices that don’t bog employees down by requiring too many steps or losing connectivity when they walk out of the store. Sunlight-readable screens, touchscreens that respond when an operator has gloves on, and familiar Android interfaces go a long way in ensuring ease of use.
New buying habits are here to stay
For customers, BOPIS and curbside pickup options help to fill the gap between a visit to a brick-and-mortar store and the online buying experience. These options help merchants drive foot traffic to physical stores in a safe manner that supports social distancing and other COVID-related requirements.
If Accenture’s predictions are on target, curbside and BOPIS are both here to stay. That means retailers and others that have traditionally relied on stationary cash registers, point of sale (POS) software systems, and other equipment must equip their employees with the tools they need to serve customers on the fly.
By aligning a company’s physical locations with their e-commerce storefronts, BOPIS and curbside also support that organization’s omnichannel strategies. For example, the customers that may not want to visit a store physically can shop online, interact—from a safe distance—with a store employee, and mimic the physical shopping experience (and all without having to haul their own groceries!).
This is proving especially vital during the current global pandemic when face-to-face activities have been limited due to potential health concerns. With more customers embracing curbside and BOPIS, and with the next disruption sure to rear its head at some point, the companies that use this checklist to invest in the right mobile technology can position themselves for success in 2021 and beyond.