It’s a wrap… 2019 is behind us and the afterglow of the holidays is quickly fading. In 2020, the innovation that has changed the Order for Pickup experience dramatically over the last few years will move faster than any other time in our history. With consumers adopting new technologies faster than ever, change is not only inevitable but is the new norm. In fact, according to Accenture, over 47% of customers avoid doing business with any brand offering a frustrating digital ordering experience or lacking the latest innovations, driving brands to implement and test technology at a rapid pace.
With Order for Pickup demand growing faster than pickup, it is rapidly becoming a larger part of the overall channel strategy. The brands that find success will ease wait times to increase throughput, improve brand loyalty, lower costs and, of course, drive additional revenue.
In this blog, we highlight 4 important technology trends and innovations that will continue shaping the evolution of the customer Order for Pickup experience in 2020 and are critical to success for any brand serious about Order for Pickup.
All this growth has seen the rollout of curbside pickup innovation at many major brands including Kroger, Best Buy, Nordstrom and Walmart. According to Cowen, 25% of consumers will use curbside pickup this year to save time, avoid lengthy checkout lines and enjoy the flexibility curbside offers. Brands benefit from stickier customers and better profitability.
Micro-Fulfillment Warehouses (MFC’s), are expected to become more commonplace as retailers such as Walmart, Ahold Delhaize and others pilot this strategy. MFC’s are quick to build, utilize existing assets, offer fast pickup wait times and can eliminate more than 75% of labor costs. The premise behind micro-fulfillment is simple; improve the speed and efficiency of online order fulfillment while also relieving pressure on store inventory by building small distribution centers on-site or nearby.
Walmart is testing delivery robots for curbside pickup orders. Automated mobile carts will retrieve the order and ferry them to personal shoppers at one of four pick stations. The associates then will pick, assemble and deliver the orders to customers.
Best Buy is now offering curbside pickup for everything from TVs to washing machines, while Nordstrom and Kroger are leveraging the Rakuten Ready predictive arrival technology, ARRIVE, to know exactly when customers will arrive and meet those customers in designated curbside pickup spots. “Order pickup is our most profitable transaction,” Erik Nordstrom said in a recent earnings call.
Curbside pickup is a huge opportunities for brands as they continue to innovate and execute with the pickup experience.
Brands are always looking to keep up with changing expectations and demands, particularly as Millenials and Gen Z gain more spending power. The savviest brands are leading the industry in experimenting with the latest AI voice technology to make the digital ordering experience as seamless and profitable as possible.
While Domino’s has led the way with innovative ordering through digital assistants, text, video game consoles and tweets, others are starting to follow suit. Wingstop, Starbucks and Dunkin’ have recently joined as the latest brands to offer voice ordering through digital assistants like Alexa or Google.
In addition, Chipotle has rolled out voice automation for phone orders, which actively listens and makes suggestions when it thinks a customer might have omitted a topping on a burrito or to suggest an upsell. Sonic Drive-In will also be the first to pilot technology that allows drive-thru customers to order or add to an online order through a voice assistant, which is integrated into a dynamic menu display.
Digital assistants have made the order experience much simpler, convenient and faster with consumer acceptance only expected to grow in the year ahead.
To win with today’s consumer, brands need to give them what they want, where they want it and when they want it. Knowing and understanding the customer is the only way brands will ever be able to stay ahead. Those brands that deliver personalized order experiences can directly attribute a 4x sales lift to their initiatives, per BCG.
Technology is enabling everything from license plate recognition at KFC drive-thrus that will automatically process payments to QR codes that bring up a personalized online menu to digital menu boards at McDonald’s that recognize when you have arrived and bring up your order history or suggest upsells. Dunkin’ customers can even send the word “donut” to Facebook Messenger to find out which classic donuts best fits their personality and then order directly for pickup.
It is a clear win for brands. Customers increasingly prefer a personalized order experience that helps them make purchase decisions.
Many traditional quick-service chains generate more than 66% of their business through the drive-thru window. And fast-casual chains that have added drive-thrus have found them to be instant sales generators. Brands say that their top task in the drive-thru is ensuring top-notch accuracy, customer experience, and, speed of service.
Chipotle is testing “Chipotlanes” with predictive arrival technology, allowing customers to order and pay through the app, drive-thru specially marked lanes and grab their freshly-made order right as they arrive. Wendy’s and Panera are also testing similar ideas. McDonald’s is piloting a voice-recognition drive-thru platform that recognizes your online order, completes payment and alerts employees to your arrival with a vision to improve and speed up the overall drive-thru pickup experience.
Technology and innovation are critical to making the drive-thru of the future smoother, faster, and more profitable.
The New Year brings new opportunities
Rakuten Ready is defining the future with a predictive arrival solution that makes it easy to deliver a superior Order for Pickup experience. Rakuten Ready ARRIVE predicts when customers will arrive by leveraging machine learning with real-time location activities, trends, and traffic, so your employees can create the frictionless experience for your customers.
It is critical that brands focus on technologies that take their Order for Pickup experience to the next level. Now is the time to act before it is too late. If you don’t already have a vision, the competition does, and you are already behind.