5 Ways to Improve Your Curbside & BOPIS Experience

Over the last year, retailers and grocers have learned a lot about what it takes to compete in the BOPIS and curbside battle - but some are coming out ahead.

Companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods are seeing massive wins in in-store fulfillment. Dick’s stores fulfilled 90% of their total sales and over 70% of our online sales either through ship-from-store, in-store pick-up or curbside. Petco stores fulfill about 83 percent of their online orders when you include ship-from-store, in-store/curbside pickup and same-day delivery services.

When you consider it’s in the neighborhood of 90 percent cheaper to service BOPIS than fulfilling directly from a warehouse, it makes a lot of sense to double down.

But what if you’re not as profitable and successful as you’d like to be? Here are five red flags to look out for in your BOPIS and curbside strategy. 

High Returns & Refunds on BOPIS Orders

On average, 10-13% of orders get returned. That’s a huge chunk of change when you consider the costs to ship, return ship, process, and restock an item. While you’ll never totally eliminate returns, there are ways to reduce them.

How to Decrease Retail Returns

The first way to decrease returns is representing your items thoroughly so there’s no confusion or misunderstanding of what your customers are getting. Include a picture that shows the scale of the product, include any relevant product info like measurements, materials, tech compatibility, etc. 

While spending the extra time and money to get high quality product images and detailed descriptions can be a large investment, they’re extremely important for decreasing costly returns down the road and have a compounding effect.

Next, retailers should equip associates with tools to pick quickly and accurately. When compared to paper-based methods, warehouse operations that incorporated vision picking saw their picking speed increase by an average of 37 percent. Hands-free solutions don’t sacrifice accuracy, either. In fact, they allow your associates to focus on the task at hand instead of juggling a bulky mobile scanner or clipboard.

Hands-free smart glasses can also equip your workforce with smart substitution suggestions so out-of-stocks are relevant and predictable - leading to higher productivity and customer satisfaction.

How to Decrease Grocery Returns

While returns are typically much lower for grocers, still, the fewer the better.

One of the biggest returns we see is due to out-of-stocks and bad substitutions. Instead of leaving substitutions up to your employees, you can leverage machine learning technology to help them make the right decisions for your customers - faster. Grocers could also leverage technology that allows your customers to select their preferred substitution.

If you’re using a third party picking solution like Instacart, be cautious of spikes in customers returns due to substandard quality or mispicks. Because gig workers are less familiar with your store layout and products, they’re more likely to mark an item as out-of-stock, not knowing it has a second location.

Customers are Confused about Their Bill

Are your employees fielding a lot of questions about customer bills? This confusion could be due to unexpected/unwanted substitutions, weight adjustments, or mispicks.

The best way to free up your workforce and decrease customer friction is to set substitution and price adjustment expectations as early and frequently as possible in the customer experience. Reduce confusion by giving them control to choose their preferred substitutions or the max they’d like to spend on weighted items. 

Some ways to reduce confusion include:

  • Include “additional info” buttons that detail substitution practices
  • Highlight FAQs before, during, and after purchase
  • Be overly communicative about any updates or changes to an order - before a customer arrives to get it

When all else fails, make sure your customer knows where to get help in the event they have questions about their bill. Include a reliable phone number or email they can use to get help and train your associates to effectively answer questions that frequently arise.

Customers Aren’t Picking up Their Orders

At the end of the week, do you have a lot of curbside and BOPIS orders that aren’t picked up? Not only is it taking up valuable space, associate time, and tieing up inventory, it’s likely costing you - ultimately in returns. 

Take a hard look at the entire customer journey and consider doing customer surveys to see what’s happening. It might be that your website was confusing and they selected the wrong location for pickup. Perhaps they found somewhere else they can get it faster or cheaper. Maybe your order confirmation and pick up communications just got lost on them and they didn’t know what to do next.

In all likelihood, they (thankfully) didn’t get hit by a bus and instead are just having difficulty navigating your website or post-purchase communications. 

Your Website Isn't Optimized for Mobile

Are customers having difficulty navigating and purchasing on your website? 

You can find out for sure by digging into cart abandonment, average time spent on it, average number of pageviews, cart abandonment, etc. Take a look at whether there is a correlation between these numbers and the type of device they’re shopping from. 

One way retailers and grocers get around this is by designing an app with the mobile experience specifically in mind.

Customers Are Confused About Where to Park & Pick Up Orders

Are customers calling or emailing to figure out next steps to pick up their order? Are they coming in frustrated because no one met them at the designated curbside area? This is happening because 1) the expectations aren’t clear or 2) there’s an issue on the associate level.

For the first scenario, your post purchase communication should be clear enough for a sixth grader to understand. In our purchase path deep dives, we explore what successful (and woefully underwhelming) communication looks like. 

Alternatively, if the hiccups are happening on the employee level, it might not be entirely their fault. Do you have dedicated associates for pickup? Are they juggling too many responsibilities? Retailers can get more out of their existing workforce by leveraging picking and automation tools. Employees can pick more orders faster and accurately with optimized pickwalks, automatic order batching, and hands-free order picking solutions - creating a better experience for employees and customers. 

In addition to having clear, actionable messaging post purchase, it’s pivotal that your in-store and curbside signage is clear so your customers are confident they’re in the right place.


There are a lot of potential stumbling blocks on the path to a successful customer purchase. Missing just one could mean losing a sale or customer to a competitor. Therefore, it’s crucial to regularly audit and survey your customers’ experience to catch issues before they cause too much damage.

How is BOPIS and curbside going for your company? What hiccups and red flags have you encountered? We’d love to hear your thoughts.