On March 24, 2020, we posted the original version of this blog. Since that time, COVID-19 has rapidly changed the way businesses operate around the world and we wanted to take time to add what we’ve learned since then.
New environment, new needs
Retail stores and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are in a unique position to quickly build trust and loyalty with their customers right now. Social distancing hasn’t changed the fact that people still need access to essential items like food, drinks, and household products. In fact, in a recent survey, 65% of consumers agreed that social distancing has led them to try new ways of buying food. Plus, despite the pandemic, people still crave games, fun activities, comfort foods, and items to make their home a little more WFH friendly. All the while, curbside pickup and delivery has become the key to survival, for consumers and businesses alike.
Curbside: The unsung hero of 2020
Companies that invested in building great mobile apps are already ahead of the game because they’re able to continue online interactions while customers practice social distancing. This is especially true for retailers and restaurants that have a curbside pickup and delivery strategy. They are now optimizing their experiences to become even more contactless - a behavioral shift that we believe most customers were going to soon expect from retailers in the coming years. Mobile pay is a critical contactless feature, currently in high demand with users because it eliminates the need for the exchange of actual cash and reduces the spread of germs. As big retailers roll out this feature to ensure the safety of their communities, users will expect all of their apps to offer the same safety precautions during this time.
The data speaks for itself. This year, we created the COVID-19 Friction Report, which analyzes the successes and frictions of the top-used retail mobile apps, comparing ratings and reviews from April/May 2019 to April/May 2020, giving retailers a very clear picture of how COVID-19 changed consumers’ preferences and experiences with mobile apps. See how companies like Burger King, Subway, Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, and others are fairing.
A better customer experience for your guests
Curbside and delivery options are great for the at-risk populations that must be extra cautious. People who are 60+ or those with pre-existing conditions can stay in the safety of their cars while still ensuring they have access to the items they need. Beyond providing the pleasure of an outside meal or essential items to your guests, these trying times present a new opportunity for your brand to shine. Your store associates may be one of the few people guests see in a given day or week and they have the opportunity to be heros – providing both supplies and a smile.
Consider other ways you can help guests as they figure out their “new normal.” If you’re a convenience store, could employees with tablets pump gas and help place food orders? Could your website or mobile app enable others to schedule regular deliveries to shut in neighbors or family members?
A new way to incentivize customers for their loyalty
Another opportunity that retailers and QSRs have during this time is to reward customers in a new way via their loyalty programs. Think about how adding additional rewards for behaviors that keep communities safe and healthy could enable your restaurant or store to be part of the greater global efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus. For example, offering additional rewards for using curbside over in-store visits to limit social interactions.
Brands can also use these channels to reassure and connect with their customers. Sending a push notification to customers in certain geographical locations with helpful information, such as updated hours or in-store precautions that are being established for their safety is a great way to keep customers engaged and informed.
Minimize friction with an eye toward the future
While implementing or refreshing your curbside or other digital solutions is time sensitive, you want to guarantee the safety of your customers and employees without adding additional friction to their lives. Make sure you look at the entire customer journey so that your efforts for deploying a contactless experience are both manageable for your employees, and easy to use and understand for your customers. This digital solution might be more top-of-mind in these conditions, but 67% of people say they’re likely to continue using new methods after social distancing is relaxed. So, think about designing an experience now that you can scale and enhance in the months and years to come.
It’s also important not to get caught up in the myths surrounding launching a curbside delivery program. Things like: Will curbside displace your current employees? How much will it really cost to create a curbside program (and will people use it after the pandemic)? Are third party vendors a good solution for companies that don’t have the resources to invest in their own program? These are all myths that are holding companies back from the ability to acquire and retain customers.
Our work on curbside, mobile apps, and digital innovation
Mobiquity has implemented many mobile apps with curbside functionality for retail, quick-service restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and more. Read on to learn more about our experience.
Wawa, the beloved regional chain of convenience stores and gas stations, is a great example of how a mobile app can rescue hungry customers in times of need. Mobiquity partnered with Wawa on their Order Ahead and curbside application, which is focused on customer experience – the foundation of Wawa’s culture. We helped them redesign the Order Ahead app from front to back to provide the best possible experience for customers.
Vomar, a privately-owned Dutch discount supermarket chain and member of the Superunie cooperative purchasing union, engaged Mobiquity to design and build the Home Shopping Platform (HSP), a centralized platform for all aspects of the ecommerce experience - from product and offer management to analytics and order fulfillment, and home delivery via Vomar's own fleet of vans.
Kum & Go, another regional chain of convenience stores and gas stations, worked with Mobiquity to enable a contactless fuel pay solution so that guests never have to leave their car to pay for their gas. Plus, customers earn rewards everytime they use the app for fuel or food.
You can view a full sampling of Mobiquity work in our case studies.
Already have an app? Great! But do your customers like it?
A third of consumers are not satisfied with their curbside mobile app experiences and they are looking for these 7 improvements in order for the experience to be more impactful.
In times of crisis, be the hero your customers need. It’s important to take the right precautions for the health and safety of your families and businesses, first and foremost. Next, take a close look at your business model and think about how ready you are to embrace the new digital normal that this crisis is ushering in. It’s likely that we’re at the precipice of a new economic model that will be much more reliant on technology and innovative approaches to service. Are you ready? We have experts on-hand to help you think through your digital roadmap, design your curbside pick-up strategy, and implement or enhance your mobile app. Together we can create the best digital experiences for your customers and employees at a time when online connection is more important than ever.
Give us your information below to start the conversation.