How technology is responding to the challenges of age-restricted BOPIS purchases

BOPIS presents a significant opportunity for retailers, but how can this early-stage technology combat current challenges such as age-restricted purchases?

Age verification in retail

Buy Online Pick-up in Store (BOPIS) has seen dramatic growth, with the pandemic seeing over 50% of shoppers using the service (it’s expected 59% of consumers will continue with BOPIS in the long-term). But for most retailers the customer experience at the point of collection is far from ideal. With customers having to queue at the tills to collect orders and staff needed to man collection areas, it has many failings.

Automated smart lockers can overcome many of the challenges of a buy online pickup instore strategy, improving customer experience and eliminating the need for staff to be in the collection area. They provide a significant opportunity for retailers looking to develop click + collect services and concession partnerships. Delivering a smooth experience for the customer – particularly with mobile-first technologies such as those from Clix – they enhance the experience of BOPIS.

With the flexibility of online payment models such as PayPal and Klarna, the reason for BOPIS ecommerce technology is even more compelling, giving customers additional purchasing muscle, and well-placed collection points can encourage additional purchases. However, while the latest systems can offer a speedier and more convenient experience, they are not without difficulties.

DIY Age verificationAs the market matures in the UK, there is a growing problem of age-restricted ecommerce. The UK requires a bespoke ID check for any age-restricted items and with one-in-six DIY click and collect purchases involving age-restricted items, before you consider grocery purchases with alcohol and medicines; it’s a sizeable issue to overcome. For this reason, Amazon still does not fulfil age-restricted purchases through its remote collection lockers. Its widely thought that hybrid facial ID technology might provide the answer in the future, but the technology is still a decade or so away from being the solution.

So, for those retailers ready to embrace the benefits of BOPIS today, but with a need to sell age-restricted items there seems no other option than to continue with manned collection areas, or to exclude sales entirely from click and collect. However, there is already a way to addresses this challenge as well as improve customer experience. Thanks to the proprietary and programmable software, Clix smart lockers can be integrated with retail communication systems such as those from VoCoVo.

Initially, Clix provides customers with notifications of an age-restricted purchase after checkout through an SMS message. But it’s at the point of collection where the capability of the system and integration really shines. For anyone collecting an age-restricted item, the software prevents access to the Clix automated locker until a verification check has been carried out. Customers simply click the button from within the web-based app and staff are immediately notified through the VoCoVo system that an ID check is needed. For the customer the whole process is seamless with minimal waiting time and no queuing at checkout. For the retailer the collection area doesn’t need to be manned by staff.

The integrated twin-technology approach is a great way to provide a current solution to the challenge of age-restriction, but it also has other benefits too. With inbuilt help functionality for all purchases, the system almost acts as a virtual customer assistant upholding the simplicity of the best BOPIS experiences and improving service levels should assistance be required. And with Gen Z and Gen Alpha (the next Gen Z!) digital and mobile natives, the minimal human interaction of intelligent and sophisticated BOPIS, such as those provided by Clix and its software, could well be a powerful tool for retailers to encourage footfall from shoppers more used to online.

Click + Collect- age verification

Applications of smart lockers in retail provide plenty of corridors to expand customer channels – from in-store click + collect to concessions and partnerships, to remote and out-of-hours collection points – and the time to embrace the technology is now. With systems already in existence to provide a hybrid solution to age-verification, and that also gather data and insight with every collection, the right BOPIS technology will have the adaptability to grow and develop new channels for your retail business.