New Customer Expectations and Shifting Your Business Model
Big box stores are doing it, and your local restaurant has probably rolled it out, too. In this ongoing COVID-19 environment, curbside pickup has quickly become a customer expectation. For businesses, curbside pickup is another method of fulfillment to get products to your customers.
As businesses, for years we’ve leveraged two primary forms of fulfillment (and several specialty offshoots) to do this: in-store and delivery. Now, thanks in part to a global pandemic, curbside pickup has joined these two fulfillment models to create the trinity of retail/restaurant fulfillment for the near future.
Curbside pickup has become a critical part of omnichannel delivery. It provides a new, valuable, experience for your customers. We look at the curbside pickup experience for customers across five categories.
5 Benefits of Curbside Pickup
Curbside pickup offers convenience for situations and orders that ship to home and pick up in-store don’t provide. Curbside pickup can be a preferred option when traveling with young children, purchasing heavier/bulkier items, urban pickups where parking is scarce, or going to the store in rain or extreme heat. This way, customers have the opportunity to pull close to a store, signal retailers to meet them outside, collect items, and drive away.
Curbside pickup allows customers to simply relax in their car and listen to the radio, talk on the phone, stay in the AC, or all of the above and just wait for the product to come to them.
Curbside pickup is cheaper than in-home delivery (most of the time), and costs the same as an in-store pickup (potentially less if considering high-cost parking in urban areas.)
Curbside pickup saves the wait time of online order delivery, and reduces the time for shopping and browsing. Also, without the time for parking, and going into the store, curbside pickup is slightly faster than even buy online, pickup in-store.
In terms of safety, curbside pickup reduces the points of contact from in-store shopping and pickup. While delivery may be low contact as well, there are safety concerns of packages getting damaged, lost, or stolen.
Others are taking notice. Due to the pandemic, Google added curbside pickup and contactless delivery to their business profiles, so now users searching for local businesses can easily find those options.
Major eCommerce and POS platforms like Shopify and Square have started looking at how to integrate curbside delivery into their experience portfolios.
How to Launch Curbside Pickup
As customer expectations change, new questions arise:
- How does your business need to adapt to offer curbside pickup?
- How can you plan for how curbside pickup would change your business?
How to Leverage Curbside Pickup Technology
As curbside pickup scales, businesses will need to streamline how they offer this option. Much like with delivery to home and in-store pickup, technologies have started emerging that make this process quite easy.
The largest challenges businesses will face are:
- identifying which orders are for curbside and
- the infrastructure for communication.
Businesses who have already have buy online pickup in-store or phone and pickup in-store will find solving #1 quite easy. They will simply need to add an extra option in the fulfillment model (manually or through development) to let the fulfillment center (usually a store or a restaurant) know that this customer expects the order to be brought curbside instead of the usual model of them walking into the store.
For #2, businesses need a way for customers to let the business know once they’ve arrived, to identify which order is the customer’s, taking the order out to them, and marking the order as delivered.
The simplest way is to have the customer call when they arrive. However, this model does not scale due to the current infrastructure in most stores. They’re just not designed to have people constantly calling to bring items outside. Also, this usually leads to a manual process of ‘writing down’ the car description and walking out with the items. A tool like Curbspot allows you to affordably digitize and track the communication process with SMS and email.
Training Staff for Curbside Pickup
In order to run curbside pickup smoothly, you will need to train your staff. Ideally, you will identify one or more store associates who will be “runners.” You will also designate one (or more) associates who will be dispatchers. Dispatchers are the ones that are watching for orders and orchestrating it’ picking (or cooking), marking the order as ready to be picked up, and letting your runners know that a customer is in the parking lot and is waiting for the order.
Your runners simply take the order out to the customer and mark the order as delivered or as the customer not found. If they can't find the customer, that will trigger another process where you contact the customer (tools like Curbspot handle this automatically) and ask them for more information.
How to Advertise Curbside Pickup
Most importantly, businesses need to advertise they have curbside! Right now it's a powerful competitive advantage. Update your Google listing to indicate you offer curbside and contactless pickup, your Yelp listing, and your business website. Share the news on email, social media, and promote via localized advertising.
When people call on the phone, offer them the convenience and comfort of curbside delivery, and track how many customers are taking advantage of it. As customer awareness and expectations change, we are certain you will notice a jump in the number of customers that want curbside. As business picks up again, begin recapturing lost revenue, keep your loyal customers happy, and start picking up new customers.
Get Started with Curbside Pickup
Is your business ready to make the change? We can help. To discuss more about getting curbside pickup set up for your customers, reach out to email@example.com.