Let’s face it, today’s customers have changed. They want convenience, and they demand excellence from the brands they trust. There is a lot of pressure for retailers to meet those expectations.
Retailers across industries have had to adapt to changing customer expectations, and those expectations apply to pool and spa retail, too. By adapting to customer wants, needs, and desires, business owners are able to increase brand engagement and build brand loyalty.
The good news is that some of the customer expectations can actually allow pool and spa retailers to make positive changes and open themselves up to new ways of doing things. Likewise, it can motivate retailers to automate some of their processes that will ultimately make their businesses more profitable.
Self-Serve & eCommerce
One such automation is self-serve ordering and eCommerce. While the lack of foot traffic into a brick-and-mortar store may have retailers sweating because of the losses in in-person marketing of new products and potential upsales, eCommerce can make up for those losses by giving customers what they want–an easy way to order what they need. Ultimately, happy customers make for better referrals and brand loyalty.
Product delivery is something that a lot of customers are asking for from their trusted brands. Along with self-serve product ordering, customers have to be able to get their products quickly as if they walked into the store and picked them up off the shelves. This can be a hardship for many retailers because of labor shortages and costs associated with offering delivery.
The Golden Ticket: Curbside Pick-up
As pool and spa retailers, there is a “Golden Ticket”, a solution! Retailers can offer customers a way to get their products almost instantly and at the same time keep costs down and customer satisfaction up. Curbside pick-up is the answer. It makes your customers’ lives easier and safer, while allowing retailers the ability to give their customers what they want and need.
If a pool and spa business hasn’t entertained the idea of curbside before, now is the time. Curbside pick-up is a winner for many reasons. For one, customers like to have options, and they have become accustomed to being catered to; it signals an “above and beyond” mentality to customer service.
Another way to keep customers happy and to inspire brand loyalty is by keeping prices low. By offering free curbside pick-up instead of delivery with an included service fee, pool and spa retailers can give customers what they want, keep their overhead down, and ultimately, keep prices low. Often retailers up the prices of their products to offset the costs to deliver. By providing curbside pick-up, it becomes a win/win proposition.
Additional Reasons To Adopt Curbside
If the above explanations aren’t enough, here are some additional reasons to adopt curbside pick-up:
- Shipping and delivery fees can be expensive, especially with large items.
- Shipping and delivery means waiting, and customers don’t want to wait.
- Shipping and delivery runs the risk of packages being stolen at their destination or the frustration of consumers because they have to be home to receive the package.
- By offering curbside, the business gives customers the opportunity to go into the store and see an item before it is loaded into their vehicle. This provides shoppers with added security that the item they are getting is the one they wanted. (Consider how many times have shoppers purchased something online only to send it back because it isn’t the right item.)
Problems With Curbside
With all its pros, curbside pick-up can cause some logistical problems for a retailer. They need to be planned for and implemented to avoid friction in the sales and pick-up process.
- Waiting - It is essential to avoid making customers wait in their cars for long periods of time. Waiting longer than five minutes will quickly lower customer satisfaction.
- Making Customers Think - Customer satisfaction also goes down when they have to notify the retailer that they are on their way or that they have arrived to pick up the order.
- Unavailable Products - If a customer arrives at the store only to find out the product they purchased is out of stock, it will lead to a very unhappy customer.
Automating processes as much as possible is essential; fortunately, there is software to help.
- Instructions go a long way. A satisfied customer is one that knows what they are doing. Having simple, clear instructions on the curbside pick-up process, such as in their order confirmation email, allows customers to comfortably use it and bypass hiccups or uncertainty about the process.
- Utilizing location services and geo-fencing will allow retailers to see when customers have headed out to the store. This allows for prompt delivery as soon as the customer arrives at the store, and ultimately, it will lead to a satisfied customer.
- Automation of inventory is key. Customers need to see availability in real-time so that the product doesn’t fly off the shelf while they are en-route to pick up their purchase.
- Convenient and well-marked pick-up areas are important. If a customer has to drive around for a while to determine where to pick up the item, they will become dissatisfied. Identify a spot that is convenient and then provide adequate signage to make identification easy.
We mentioned above that losing profits from a lack of foot traffic and impulse purchases made in their stores is a big concern for retailers who are considering curbside. We get it. Here are a few solutions to that weighty problem:
- Provide customers with add-on suggestions on your eCommerce site. Include an alert window of previous purchases and common upsell purchases made based on their customer selections.
- It is common for retailers with curbside pick-up to have an alert that opens on the customer’s mobile device as soon as they arrive at the store. The notification gives consumers the option to purchase additional items that they might want or need. To minimize wait time, these items should be easy for store associates to locate and add to the customer’s purchase.
By adding curbside pick-up, a retailer is adding one more positive layer to the consumer experience. This is a great, fairly simple, and cost-effective opportunity to improve customer delight and loyalty.