Through the third quarter of 2020, e-commerce sales in the U.S. jumped more than 36% year-over-year, representing about 14% of total retail sales.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. implemented temporary surcharges on ground deliveries following a massive increase in volumes. Then came peak-season holiday surcharges, and many shippers looked for other solutions.
Alternatives to delivery like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) were gaining popularity before the pandemic, though many customers became wary once COVID-19 infection rates spiked.
BOPIS grew 35% over the 2019 holiday period, according to data from software company Adobe Inc. Shoppers used the option most frequently during the seven days before Christmas — likely receiving their products faster than a delivery service could offer, and saving money on shipping costs.
More than 80% of BOPIS customers are also likely to shop for additional items in the store, Adobe says.
Last year, Kohl's Corp. doubled its number of drive-up parking spaces at store locations to support increased curbside pickup demand. Likewise, Target Corp. says its curbside pickup service grew more than 500% year-over-year in the third quarter.
On-demand delivery apps like Shipt, DoorDash and Instacart have seen a surge in usage. For retailers, it’s about providing more options for their customers — and anticipating all of their possible needs.
These platforms also help retailers who may be struggling to get enough capacity from FedEx, UPS and other major logistics providers.
Retail shippers will continue to adapt and embrace alternative last-mile delivery solutions to provide options for their customers and help cut parcel shipping costs. In addition to BOPIS, curbside pickup and on-demand delivery, expect retailers to experiment with lockers and partnerships with noncompetitors for services like returns in order to keep logistics costs to a minimum.
Deyman Doolittle is co-founder and chief operating officer of ShipSights.
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