Pickup or delivery? What about a mix of both digital shopping options?

The last two years have been a rollercoaster ride for retailers. Companies that offered primarily in-store shopping experiences were forced to quickly pivot operations and embrace online sales. Digital retailers discovered that being online wasn’t enough on its own. Customers began expecting multiple shopping, shipping, and pickup options to meet their needs for both speed and safety.

Recent survey data emphasizes the impact of this shift. As noted by research firm IDC, 59% of customers say they would shop elsewhere if retailers didn’t offer buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) options, while 49% would choose other retailers if curbside pickup wasn’t a choice.

Forty-one percent regard a lack of same-day delivery as a deal-breaker.

The result? To keep consumers happy and drive sustained sales, retailers need dynamic pickup and delivery options that are flexible enough to meet evolving needs — but don’t break the bank. Here’s a look at what’s on the horizon for pickup and delivery.

What Options Already Exist for Digital Consumers?

Digital spending is up. Way up.

According to Adobe Analytics data, consumers spent $109.8 billion online from November 1 to November 29, 2021 — a nearly 12% increase over 2020.

It makes sense; pandemic regulations and restrictions have evolved over the past two years, so customers are opting for online options to get the products they need quickly and safely.

Currently, three broad digital shopping options exist:

Same-day(ish) Shipping

Popularized by online retail giants like Amazon, same-day shipping lets customers place digital orders with the confidence that they’ll be shipped from warehouses ASAP.

With supply chain challenges continuing to evolve, however, shipping delays remain a stumbling block for many businesses. Here, robust supplier collaboration and coordination tools are critical to succeed at scale.

Curbside Pickup

Curbside pickup options allow customers to order products online, drive to brick-and-mortar locations, and retrieve their purchases without ever going inside.

This pickup approach gained ground during the early stages of the pandemic, when many retail stores were closed to in-person shoppers. Paired with comprehensive scheduling and notification tools, curbside pickup offers a way for customers to get what they want, and stay safe while doing so.

Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS)

BOPIS emerged as an alternative to curbside pickup as stores began to reopen, and this digital and physical hybrid has become one of the industry’s fastest-growing trends.

Consumers get the benefit of picking what they want online and knowing it will be in-store waiting for them, in turn taking the stress off of in-person shopping. They’re free to browse without worrying that the item they need will suddenly be unavailable.

According to Business Insider, business is booming for BOPIS. In 2020, U.S. consumers spent more than $72 billion buying online and picking up in-store. By 2024, predictions put the BOPIS market at over $140 billion.

How Will Digital Shopping Options Continue To Evolve?

While curbside pickup, same-day delivery, and BOPIS leverage different methods to get customers what they want, when they want it, they share a similar, overarching goal: improving the consumer experience.

For example, same-day delivery makes it easy for customers to order and get exactly what they want from the comfort of their home, while curbside pickup helps consumers feel safe. BOPIS options provide the advantage of the in-store experience for customers combined with the certainty that the item they ordered is being held just for them.

So, what comes next?

As noted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), one potential avenue for evolution is livestream shopping, which offers customers the ability to interact with brands and retailers online — helping to cultivate an ongoing connection. Social ecommerce is also becoming a critical component of effective retail sales.

Consider the rise of platforms like TikTok. The social video app is spending big on advertising teams to win marketers’ trust and leverage its 1.5 billion subscriber base to help brands and retailers connect with new customer segments.

Where Can Retailers Improve To Meet These Demands?

To meet evolving digital demands, you can aim to improve in two key areas: form and function. Let’s break down each in more detail.


Form speaks to the look and feel of online retail sites. How easy is it for your customers to find what they’re looking for and complete transactions? From easy-to-use wish lists that let users quickly save favorite products to on-site user reviews and basic live chat options, the simpler it is for customers to get the help they need, the better.


It’s also critical for you to integrate new technologies capable of enhancing overall function. For instance, consider machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that generate personalized product lists or provide different shipping and pickup options based on users’ current locations and historic preferences.

It’s About the Journey — and the Destination

While the last two years have driven massive ecommerce growth, Digital Commerce 360 notes that the pace simply isn’t sustainable. In 2020, for example, online sales grew 32% year-over-year. In 2022, predictions put growth at around 14%.

For digital retailers, this slowdown speaks to a more competitive market that requires both improvement of existing operations and the evolution of new techniques to capture consumer attention and keep them coming back.

Put simply? Both the journey and the destination matter. It’s not just about getting customers the products they want, when they want them — it’s about ensuring the end-to-end experience exceeds their expectations.

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