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COVID-19 moves Dick’s and Best Buy from brick-and-mortar to curbside pickup

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Moves by retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Best Buy to keep semi-physical retail rolling in the midst of COVID-19 demonstrate the kind of agility retailers are embracing as prudence and government regulations make operating brick-and-mortar stores unwise and impractical. 

Both prominent retailers have shuttered their stores and shifted their buy-online-pick-up-in-store programs to curbside delivery — or buy-online-pick-up-near-store.

Best Buy in a statement explaining the change noted that it has seen an uptick in the sales of items that are helpful for consumers working to adjust to shelter-at-home orders. 

“We are seeing a surge in demand across the country for products that people need to work or learn from home, as well as those products that allow people to refrigerate or freeze food,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said, according to the statement. “As we meet the demand for these necessities, we are adjusting how we operate in many ways to improve safety.“

How COVID-19 is changing the way people buy
  • Major retailers like Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GameStop, David’s Bridal and more are turning to curbside pickup, rather than in-store sales in the face of COVID-19 and shelter-at-home orders.
  • Buy-online-pick-up-near-store is an innovative way to continue to serve customers, while taking important steps to keep both workers and consumers safe and healthy.
  • The frictionless and relatively new fulfillment method brings with it new fraud risks, which can be mitigated by programs and procedures designed to protect merchants’ BOPIS buy online pickup in store programs from fraud.

For its part, Dick’s said they have launched a new “Curbside Contactless Pickup service” at their namesake stores and Golf Galaxy. The retailers’ apps and websites will be operational during the temporary shutdown, which the company plans to end April 2, Dick’s said.

Other retailers that have announced curbside pickup include At Home, David’s Bridal and GameStop. 

More retailers are likely to adopt curbside pickup for online orders

Pivoting to curbside pickup will no doubt be adopted by other retailers who had not yet added the channel to their operations before the coronavirus outbreak became a crisis. Now the service has become a key element to retail’s business continuity strategy.

The curbside offerings show retailers are still meeting customers where they are, even if it’s from a safe distance. It’s the kind of resourcefulness that will help retailers weather the coronavirus pandemic. But like any new and low-friction sales channel, curbside pickup does open retailers up to increased risk. 

“From a fraud perspective, buy-online-pick-up-curbside orders come with increased challenges. First, the orders need to be reviewed quickly to honor the promise of fast and convenient fulfillment,” says Diana Rodriguez, Signifyd’s director of risk science analytics. “And pick-up orders come without delivery addresses, meaning fraud teams are missing a key bit of verifying data that provides a lot of insight.”

Of course, having orders ready quickly and when promised is a key to a successful BOPIS program, but it is especially important as we all wrestle with the coronavirus. 

“Especially in this time of extra anxiety around making trips outside of the home, retailers want to make sure orders are ready when promised,”  Rodriguez says. 

Curbside pickup comes with new fraud risks

Retailers could consider steps to better protect themselves from fraudulent curbside orders by requiring a customer to produce an email confirmation of the order or by requiring some form of ID, including the credit card used to make the order.

But like everything else in the time of coronavirus, those steps require careful consideration, given that customers and store employees alike need to maintain social distancing — generally meaning staying six feet apart. Conceivably a customer could email the confirmation to a store employee while at the curb or text a photo of an ID. But retailers need to balance the risk and reward presented by measures that undoubtedly introduce friction and damage the customer experience. 

Signifyd customers have handled the challenges of BOPIS ecommerce and curbside pickup by turning to a Commerce Protection Platform that automates customer experience while maximizing conversion and eliminating fraud and shopper abuse. The AI-powered platform reviews thousands of signals to sort legitimate orders from fraudulent ones instantaneously. And it assures merchants they will be made financially whole for any approved order that turns out to be fraudulent. 

An automated system comes with the additional advantage of being able to scale continuously and infinitely. So, if curbside pickup orders were to increase abruptly, as is likely as in-store visits shift to online orders, the platform’s constantly learning machines can process the new overflow of orders.

The automated system also means that retailers don’t have to hire or contract with additional help to process the spike in orders at a time when fraud teams can’t work from a centralized location. 

Look to Dick’s and Best Buy as examples of launching curbside pickup

As more retailers contemplate opening up curbside pickup, Dick’s and Best Buy provide valuable examples of how to launch it properly. Both have communicated clearly with customers — Best Buy through an email to shoppers and regular updates on its blog and Dick’s through its website and social media. 

Both also have enacted policies to support employees who are out of work or seeing reduced hours because of the store closings. Best Buy made it clear that only employees who have volunteered to work will be staffing curbside pickup — and at an increased pay rate. Best Buy will also pay employees who stay home because they are sick or stay home to care for loved ones. Dick’s announcement said it would provide full pay and benefits during the two-week shutdown.

Retailers in the time of coronavirus will continue to innovate and find creative ways to conduct commerce and serve consumers. This is a time to find examples that apply to your business and adopt them in ways that make sense for you.

After all, as it’s been said, we are all in this together. 

Photo courtesy of Best Buy

Navigating curbside pickup in the COVID-19 era comes with new challenges. If you’d like to talk about what we’ve seen work, reach out to us.

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].