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Let me get the best and worst of it out of the way.
Every employee I encountered was so obviously doing their best to make this work. They had on safety gear and they were super friendly. The pickups were pretty easy and the orders for the most part, available within the hour.
Retail websites are obviously not designed to make online ordering followed by curbside pickup, a seamless experience. It took me at least an hour and a half to place my orders. I had to navigate through different websites, input my information each time, and sometimes I would check out with an order only to find out it was not available at my location of choice.
Our Task for the Day
Four stores, four orders to test out how malls and bigger chain stores are doing curbside pickup.
I picked Banana Republic on Grant Ave. to get a feel for what it's like to curbside pickup in downtown San Francisco. Then I chose Blue Mercury in Burlingame and Party City in Redwood City to get a feel for bigger stores with storefronts.
Then, Barnes and Noble at Hillsdale Mall, one of the few shopping malls in the Bay Area that's starting to reopen.
Watch the video posted above for a look at the curbside pickup experience.
Seven Insights + lessons learned :— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
1. The customer experience of navigating individual websites to place orders will feel frustrating. They're just not designed for this experience. For example, hard to tell what's available at your chosen store.
2. You have to feel for these retail stores. They seem to be trying their best. Every employee I encountered @BananaRepublic @bluemercury @BNBuzz were not only wearing safety gear, they were beyond friendly. And trust me, it wasn't because cameras were there.— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
3. The shopping experience as we knew it, before this pandemic, is over. The reinvention will begin now and it will be a bumpy road.— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
4. My favorite experience was probably with @bluemercury where I called the store, a sales associate walked me through my order on the phone and it was ready immediately. Funny, it seems old fashioned. But, maybe back to basics will be a path forward.— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
5. The best case scenario for this new shopping experience is that we become mindful consumers. No more impulse buying or buying only to return. The process is too cumbersome not to shop with precision and thoughtfulness.— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
6. Retail will have to embrace this new weird reality for it to work. For example, @HillsdaleSC had designated parking zones, depending on the store pickup. That makes all the difference. It was really tough to do curbside pick up in downtown SF, where parking was an issue.— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
7. Curbside pickup is not a perfect system for retail. It is far from an ideal shopping experience. But, it's a process we'll all have to be patient with, if we expect businesses to survive.— KrisReyes (@KrisReyes) May 20, 2020
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