The brands with the shortest order pick-up and in-store pick-up times are....

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The brands with the shortest order pick-up and in-store pick-up times are....

By Marianne Wilson - 10/29/2019

Time is paramount in the retail and restaurant industry’s "now" economy. 

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, according to The Rakuten Ready 2019 Time Study. Among grocery experiences, H-E-B and Whole Foods made it into the top rankings.

The benchmark study, which enlisted 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., found that optimizing wait time is critical. It 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.

"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."

Based on Rakuten Ready order data, customers who waited less than two 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.

Chipotle was No. 1 among quick-service restaurants in unattended order-pickup, with over 88% of orders ready in under two minutes. Factors contributing to the quick-service restaurants that completed the majority of orders under the the two-minute mark, which also included Panera and Starbucks, included dedicated pickup areas, exclusive mobile order pickup lines and separate prep lines for mobile orders. The study noted, however, that food quality sometimes suffered due to the speed at which orders were ready before the customer arrived.

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 more than five minutes. While the study found little variation between categories, there were clear winners and losers. The top performers – Whole Foods Market and Chick-Fil-A – had wait times that were far faster than those at the bottom.