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Safe retail - buy online, pick up at kerbside

As retailers start to firm up their strategies for reopening safely, our ‘Safe retail’ series takes a practical look at the features and functions which will enable them to open their doors with confidence, to both customers and store associates.

At a time when we’re establishing new ways to work, rest and play, the demand for products to help us navigate the ‘new normal’ has seen a spike in sales in some sectors outside grocery and other essentials, including beauty and home and furnishing. Retailers are doing everything they can to ensure customers can safely shop for the things they need to see them through now and in the future – and one of the most effective immediate changes has been a shift to safe fulfilment.

Home delivery and click and collect have been instrumental in making sure we all get what we need while we’re unable to shop in the usual way – and retailers with robust pick from store operations have been quick to adapt what they offer to meet social distancing and safe retail requirements.

BOPAK and beyond

One of the key initiatives is ‘buy online, pick up at kerbside’ (BOPAK). While it’s primarily an extension of click and collect, it offers a number of service enhancements which allow both store associates and customers to safely manage how they pick up their purchases:

  • The same tech that alerts customers when their orders are ready can be used to pre-arrange pick up times and let the store know when they’re arriving
  • Store associates can take control of the whole process, from picking the item to allocating time slots and specific parking/pick up areas for customers
  • It can be rapidly configured to support changing circumstances in specific stores, from distancing measures to operational and logistical considerations
  • Detailed, real-time ‘at-a-glance’ information and analysis allow for accurate footfall change calculations, VIP customer alerts and target completions, offering exceptional customer service management in any situation

Stores will start to reopen in carefully-planned stages, and because it has demonstrated its value both in terms of store management and customer demand, this kind of flexible fulfilment is likely to become a permanent fixture.

Retailers are also exploring other safe fulfilment options - for example, Halfords has opened up more than 300 of its outlets as ‘dark’ stores, where customers can make and pick up purchases without having to browse or enter the premises. For initiatives like this, runner features which reduce contact and minimise risk will be essential to supporting effective operations – store associates will need tech backup to manage and meet customer requests swiftly and securely, or demand could overtake their fulfilment capabilities.

Along with this and more holistic approaches such as contactless concierge facilities which deliver VIP services to the customer’s door, BOPAK is one of the forerunners of retail’s new way of working.

If you’d like to find out more about how to set up BOPAK, runner services and our other safe retail features, contact us .

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Red Ant, 15th May 2020