COVID-19’s impact has accelerated an existing trend in retail: curbside pickup options. While many large stores, like Walmart, offered curbside long before the pandemic hit, the sudden need to limit high-touch interactions has resulted in numerous retailers rapidly launching curbside options, or trying to improve their existing curbside services to deliver a smoother experience for customers.
Consequently, customer expectations are morphing, too. Many now expect stores to offer a curbside option as part of their omnichannel strategy, even as places slowly begin reopening. For retailers, this is actually great news. Curbside pickup reduces shipping costs, protects customers and team members, and still gets people to your store. Its quick accessibility can be a solution for customers in their time of need - ensuring their future loyalty to your brand.
The Ongoing Benefits of Curbside
Clearly, curbside is a convenient option for customers and a cost-saving fulfillment strategy for retailers. That means it’s here to stay. Even once things eventually return to “normal,” smart stores will keep curbside, making their products more accessible.
Let’s break down the main benefits of continuing curbside.
Curbside pickup accommodates situations that delivery and in-store pickup do not. If you’re purchasing a large, unwieldy item, curbside offers loading assistance. Or perhaps you live in a city where there’s no convenient parking. Curbside removes common barriers for shoppers.
Delivery fees are the number one reason customers abandon items in their online carts. Curbside offers an affordable solution. No delivery fee, but still no need to park like with in-store pickup.
Whether it’s limited person-to-person contact during COVID-19, or the ability to ensure receipt of product (no lost, stolen, or broken packages), curbside is a great solution.
It’s so effective, in fact, that major eCommerce platforms like Square and Shopify are beginning to add curbside delivery options, and Google added curbside pickup and contactless delivery to their business profiles. Now people Googling a store or product can check if a business offers a curbside solution.
Massive rainstorm? Terribly hot out? Still in your heels from work? Trying to catch the last of that podcast? Whatever your rationale, you can stay put in the comfort of your car and allow the retailer to deliver right to your trunk.
When you need something quickly, curbside carves down on wait time, particularly for products that are already in-store. It also saves time that would otherwise be spent waiting in a checkout line, parking your car, and locating the product in-store.
Making Curbside Work for Your Brand
While all of these benefits sound equally appealing to customers and retailers, it can be challenging to launch curbside (if you don’t already offer it) and to scale it if you do.
Businesses need to ask themselves precisely how they need to adapt, and what their plan is for doing so.
Thankfully, technologies have emerged to help streamline this process. These advances will specifically help brands address two of the largest challenges to curbside:
- Identifying which orders are intended for curbside
- Communicating both internally with your teams and externally with customers.
The first scenario is relatively easy to resolve. Businesses that already offer in-store pickup simply need to add an extra fulfillment option.
But the second scenario can prove to be more challenging. Retailers need a way for customers to contact them once they’ve arrived, as well as to identify the correct order, take it to the customer’s vehicle, and then mark that order as fulfilled.
The solution seems obvious: just have the customer call when they arrive. Yet most stores cannot accommodate this. It’s not sustainable to have an employee on-call at all times. Plus, the employee answering the phone has to try and determine what the car looks like and where it is parked. Even with a dedicated parking area, it can be tricky to locate the correct vehicle.
Fortunately, a tool like Curbspot allows you to digitize and track the communication process via text or email - all at an incredibly low cost.
Training Your Team
Even the best technology requires a solid team to properly utilize it. In order for curbside to succeed, you’ll need well-trained staff. This includes designating “runners,” who will deliver items to the vehicles. It also requires “order fulfillment” team members who prepare the order, let runners know it’s ready and a customer is waiting, and mark the order as complete.
Best of all, tools like Curbspot offer a contingency plan for when a runner cannot locate a customer. Curbspot automatically triggers another process to contact the customer and ask them for more information.
Most importantly, your customers need to know that you offer curbside! In the current market, it’s a major advantage. Be sure to update your Google listing (and any other listings, like your social media pages, website, etc.) Share the news on social, via your email database, and other avenues.
Get Started Today
Is your business ready to launch or enhance curbside solutions? Our team of experts can help. To discuss more about getting curbside pickup set up for your customers, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.