Retail has witnessed unprecedented disruption and change in the past 12 months, like the pandemic that is stubbornly sticking around the rate of change in retail is showing no signs of slowing.
Brands continue to work on integrating technology in really exciting ways using AI, VR and AR to connect to consumers is just a small segment of the change we have seen in the past year. We often talk with our clients about the rate of change and how it impacts the decisions they make today - that is more true today that ever before. As retailers and brand owners we need to be faster and smarter than ever!
Whew! Just writing that is stressful!
One area I find fascinating is “pick up” - click and collect, order online and pick in-store all different ways to say it and yet no one has really mastered it. What I mean is that there we any number of bad examples of a small corner carved out of a retail space where you could pick up items you ordered on line. From the start these spaces and the experience has come across as - left-over. Never really on brand and in many cases way way way off brand. The image here is of a pick up space at an airport duty free. the space could be so much more engaging. This feels like a let down compared to the on-line experience of this brand.
Photo J Dugas
As an industry we are focused on making sure that consumers have an “on brand” experience when interacting with a brands technology, apps, websites etc. In nearly all cases brands will also include person to person experiences - yet very few put in the really hard people work it takes to actually do that.
What I see so often is that the “click and collect” space is carved out in a hurry with little or no thought given to the connect to between brand - consumer - experience.
Fast Food RE-Invents the drive thru!
The fast food industry can offer some insights into thinking differently about these spaces - throughout the pandemic the fast food industry has seen their wait times at drive thrus increase. (“Drive thru times are almost 30 sec slower in 2020” - the Spoon OCT. 2020) As more people use the drive thru lanes for a reduced contact experience times increased in addition to volume increases many fast food chains saw an increase in customization requests as customers are more and more focused on what they are eating. This pushed the industry to take a look at how and when customers are using pick up spaces. The industry is experimenting with apps, on line ordering and pick up only, drive thru and pick up lockers - all while hyper focused on brand. Often very simply connecting the pick up location to the brand by visually making them similar - brand color and brand graphics are relied on heavily but also through brand voice - Chipolte has named their drive thrus - Chipotlanes.
Yet many retailers seem to put little or no effort into this growing brand touch point. Does your brand own it’s pick up space? If not how can you change this? How can your brand voice be expressed here? What is it about the process that will drive customers to utilized click and collect more often?
This is a huge opportunity one that is rare - the customer has already made a purchase, as a brand you know they will be coming to you pick up their item - IT MUST be a good experience for them to come back again - why not make a meaningful? The shopper will be more likely to spread the word about what a great experience they had!
This is one place the brand could have a little fun - experiment!
Studio H2G had an opportunity a few years ago (long before the pandemic) to work with the national sandwich chain Potbelly to study what their future store might be like. The CEO at the time was a very forward thinking and wanted the team to dig deep for new ways to deliver product to customers - we explored hot and cold click and collect lockers - we even tossed around the idea of 24 hour vending for hot soup! These were very conceptual at the time and yet you can see from the image below - we visually connected it to the brand. Had the concept gone further the plan was to push on new ideas.
Looking forward to more discovery + innovation!
One of the Heads
Studio | H2G
I’m one of the heads at Studio | H2G - I’m not a writer (which you may have picked up on quickly!) I am passionate about the business of retail, consumer behavior, trends and conversations around that thinking.