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Rakuten Ready Study Sets Restaurant, Retail and Grocery Benchmarks for Getting Order Ahead Right; Wait Time Is Critical

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Secret Shoppers Rank Chipotle, Panera, Best Buy, Nordstrom, H-E-B and Whole Foods Tops for Fastest Pickup Times; Quick-Service Restaurants Set the Overall Pace Ahead of Retail, Grocery Brands As the ‘On-Demand’ Economy Takes Hold, Study Unveils Gaps in Customer Experience

Rakuten Ready, the location-centric mobile commerce platform that takes the friction out of the mobile order-ahead experience for thousands of stores and restaurants, unveiled a benchmark study enlisting secret shoppers to evaluate the Order for Pickup customer experience and wait times at 25 top quick-service restaurant, retail and grocery brands across the U.S.

“Just offering ‘Order for Pickup’ or ‘Delivery’ is not as simple as adding a feature on your website or app and marketing the service”

Chipotle, Panera, and Starbucks came out on top for fastest in-store pickup times overall, with retailers Best Buy and Nordstrom clocking in as best retail experiences. Among grocery experiences, H-E-B and Whole Foods made it into the top rankings.

Optimizing wait time is critical, the study found. The mobile-first customer journey also requires an innovative, convenient and seamless pickup program that stretches beyond traditional infrastructure, processes and capabilities.

The Rakuten Ready 2019 Time Study unveiled deep gaps in customer experience across categories for both in-store and curbside pickup, including orders not being ready, no dedicated pickup area, or exclusive pickup line.

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“Just offering ‘Order for Pickup’ or ‘Delivery’ is not as simple as adding a feature on your website or app and marketing the service,” said Jaron Waldman, Rakuten Ready Co-Founder and CEO. “It is critical that brands fully understand customer expectations so they can focus on improving the end-to-end experience – particularly that dreaded last mile, which can make or break the whole experience with your brand.”

Rakuten Ready deployed secret shoppers to evaluate the state of Order for Pickup and provide insights into the best and worst practices to help brands improve their own experiences as customers gravitate to pickup to save both on time and delivery fees. The company conducted over 750 trips between July and August of 2019. Secret shoppers described their experiences including convenience of parking spots, dedicated pickup areas, readiness of the order and staff aptitude for handling orders.

The ‘NOW’ Economy

Time is paramount in the ‘Now’ economy. And while delivery is capturing all the headlines, it’s not actually delivering for consumers with late deliveries and order mistakes. This is allowing mobile order ahead for pickup to take hold with 30% of restaurant users and 24% of retail users say they have used Order for Pickup because it is actually faster than delivery.

“Smartphones and apps like Uber, DoorDash, GrubHub and Postmates have rewired customer behaviors and expectations and changed the game for retailers, quick-service restaurants and grocery,” said leading digital analyst, CX expert and author Brian Solis, who contributed to the report. “Brands must now rethink business and operational models to not only keep up with evolving customer demands but also grow new markets. Those that do win. Those that don’t will lose.”

Based on Rakuten Ready order data, customers who waited less than 2 minutes were four times more likely to be repeat, loyal customers. A few brands are actually meeting and exceeding this wait time expectation for in-store pickup.

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Chipotle was #1 among quick service restaurants with over 88% of orders ready in under 2 minutes. Other quick-service restaurants completing the majority of orders under that magic two-minute mark, including Panera and Starbucks, are succeeding for several reasons: dedicated pickup areas, exclusive mobile order pickup lines and separate prep lines for mobile orders. Although food quality sometimes suffered due to the speed at which orders were ready before the customer arrived.

At curbside, the wait goes on

Curbside pickup was a different story, with long wait times across all categories. The average wait across the retail, grocery and quick-service restaurant categories was slightly over five minutes. While the study found little variation between categories, there were clear winners and losers. The top performers – Whole Foods and Chick-Fil-A – had wait times that were far faster than those at the bottom.

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