Don’t Be Fooled. Arrival Times Impact Your Brand Experience.

Carin Chan

Posted by: Carin Chan / January 24, 2020

The demand for Order for Pickup is growing exponentially. According to Rakuten Intelligence, Order for Pickup has been growing 2.5x faster than Delivery over the last 3 years. To better understand what is driving this opportunity, Rakuten Ready conducted a Time Study in 2019 to investigate the Order for Pickup wait times and customer experience across top brands. While there were some Order for Pickup programs that performed well, many brands’ efforts fell short of the benchmark wait time of less than 2 minutes.  One key reason for this is that many brands did not know when their customers would arrive. 

We find brands often optimize the things they can control – such as food preparation time or the in-store experience, but may overlook the arrival time since customer arrival is unpredictable. One way to minimize the wait time and optimize experience, is to focus on expected arrival time. 

As brands, you want to be ready anytime your Order for Pickup customer walks through the door. Across tens of millions of orders captured by Rakuten Ready, the data very clearly shows that customers who wait less than 2 minutes to receive their order are 4X more likely to reorder in the future than customers who wait 10 minutes. To get off on the right foot, brands need to leverage technology like ARRIVE from Rakuten Ready to gain insight into when a customer will arrive so they can be ready for the customer. 

An easy way to imagine why this matters is to think about arriving at a party. We’ve all been to a party at the wrong time, where the host isn’t ready or you arrived later than expected. As a result, the food isn’t ready or all of the good stuff has been eaten or is cold. 

Arrival times really are critical to the happiness of your customers and success of your Order for Pickup program, so let’s explore the most common patterns you will need to understand in planning for your customer’s arrival. 

Typical Arrival Patterns

The majority of Orders for Pickup will fall under one of 3 common customer patterns: 

  • ASAP
  • Scheduled 
  • Anytime 

Keep in mind you may have one or all of these arrival types. However, by understanding how arrival times impact your business, you can influence decisions made within your Order for Pickup program. 

Let’s dig deeper into each arrival type and how ARRIVE can assist your operations and improve customer experience (which impacts purchase frequency and brand loyalty). 

Customer Scenario: ASAP

Typically, in this scenario, brands want to remove as much of the friction required to fulfill an order.  

ASAP orders are most common for restaurants. The business model is one where the margins are thin, employee resources are limited, and focus is on order volume to drive profitability. Your customers want their food ready and at peak quality when they arrive.  Unfortunately, this is also a time when you’re already experiencing an influx of customers ordering in-person and at the drive-thru. To maximize the number of customers (throughput) that can be served to optimize revenue, you may need to make some changes. 


  • Prioritize the orders by arrival: Change your order queue into a First to ARRIVE, First Out queue. That way your team isn’t preparing food for someone who won’t arrive until later while someone who comes in sooner doesn’t have to wait for their food to be made. ARRIVE technology will provide an accurate arrival time estimate, allowing you to optimize your order queue.
  • Reduce the check-in friction: Rather than have a customer come in and tell you they arrived, ARRIVE can alert your employees that the customer has arrived so the order pickup can be seamless. 

Customer Scenario: Scheduled Window

Brands also offer a scheduled pickup window such as a specified time or a time range for customers. Brands then optimize their operations to meet this promised order pick-up or appointment window. We often find this in grocery stores or businesses with non-perishable goods. The customer expectation is to be in and out quickly and for their orders to be ready for them when they arrive. 

The scheduled windows vary in length from 10 minutes to a 2-hour window. Customers may meet this scheduled window but it is also very likely they could show up later than the expected time. Brands need to optimize so store employees are always ready to hand off orders to customers upon arrival, or, if it’s an appointment, employees are ready for them upon arrival. 


  • Always be ready: Simply fulfilling orders immediately in this scenario will satisfy most customers, however may pose some logistical challenges on your end. When you leverage technology like ARRIVE, you can also delight customers by alerting store employees when a customer is approaching, so they can be prepared to assist the customer immediately or take the final steps in the order process. 
  • Optimize your infrastructure: Depending on your order volume, you may need to make infrastructure changes to handle your scheduled window volume. You can utilize your historical data from ARRIVE to understand the frequency before making an investment in the infrastructure. 

Customer Scenario: Anytime

In this situation, the customer has been given X number of days to pick up the order. At Rakuten Ready, we have found some stores give a window between 3 days to even up to 21 days! However, the actual customer pick-up of the items can range from immediately, to several days later, leading to the feeling that the customer can arrive at any time. 

Given the lengthy time window, inventory can pile up while waiting for a customer to arrive. We find that this is common with non-perishable goods (home improvement stores, fashion items, kitchen gadgets, etc). Regardless of the length of time, the customer expects the order to be ready when they arrive.  


  • Leverage approaching arrivals: Rather than having orders pile up in front of the store, your store fulfilment can be in the back. Then, use customer approaching alerts to let employees know when to move the order to the front. That way, the order is ready for the customer and you drive greater store operation efficiencies. 
  • Optimize your staffing: Leverage historical arrival times from ARRIVE to understand if there are popular order pickup times. Given the historical data, you can fluctuate your staffing levels to assist these customers quickly to offer the best brand experience.

Delight customers when you have arrival times

Rakuten Ready is redefining future eCommerce experiences, with a predictive arrival solution that makes it easy to deliver a superior Order for Pickup experience. By planning around customer arrival times, you can decrease your Order for Pickup wait times, which will lead to higher customer satisfaction, increased brand loyalty, and more revenue. 

To start decreasing wait times, brands can leverage ARRIVE to gain insight to customer arrival times.  ARRIVE predicts when customers will arrive by leveraging machine learning with real-time location activities, trends, and traffic, so your employees can create a seamless experience for your customers. By doing so, you gain insight into when a customer will arrive and can decrease customer wait times. 

Learn more about ARRIVE here.