Curbside Pickup: What Online Retail Brands Need To Know During Coronavirus

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To help ensure their businesses are able to stay open during these difficult times, brick-and-mortar retailers have had to find new ways to reach customers. One example of this is curbside pickup retail. Business owners have had to pivot from focusing on the physical nature of their store to eCommerce, relying on shipping and curbside pickup to keep generating revenue during a downtime for all. While this might seem like a temporary fix, it is likely that curbside pickup retail traits have the potential to fundamentally change the way that businesses operate in relation to their physical locations.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been revealed that 90% of customers are now wary of shopping in-store due to health risks; whereby most people will only go to a location if it is for something essential. For businesses that operate either entirely or mostly as a physical brick-and-mortar location, this is an increasingly damaging prospect, unless they are willing and able to adapt quickly.

One way to do this is by implementing curbside pickup. As it currently stands, curbside delivery is shifting from something which is just a nice perk or easy convenience for those in a rush to a way of helping with public health issues as people look to avoid physical contact with others where possible. But this leads to some important questions that need answering, namely; what is curbside pickup and how does curbside pickup work if you haven’t previously utilised it?

How Curbside Pickup Helps Retail Brands

The Coronavirus pandemic is making curbside pickup a more valuable asset to have for both customers and retailers alike as many stores look to remain shut in an effort to flatten the curve further. Following the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, several trends have become prevalent, one being “Contactless” deliveries in which delivery workers leave packages at the door, without any physical interactions happening between those involved. But another clearly developing trend relates to curbside pickup, especially as it pertains to food and grocery retailers where customers will drive up to the store and have their orders handed to them without ever having to leave their vehicle.

Restaurants are another great example of this as in-house services have been forced to close, curbside pick-up and delivery services have become crucial as a way to make ends meet and keep revenue coming in. However, many brick-and-mortar stores may not be able to operate in this manner or do not have the resources already in place to do so, so let’s take a look at what stores currently have curbside pickup that you can take inspiration from:

Nordstrom: Instead of in-store pickup as was previously the case, US retailer Nordstrom is now offering contactless curbside pickup at select stores which can be preselected at a product checkout page. Customers will then receive an automated notification when their order is ready for pickup and following their arrival at the store they will go to a designated pickup area and notify the store through the app. Your order will then be brought from the store to you and is placed directly into your vehicle, all without a customer ever having to leave their car or enter a store risking public health. This all means that Nordstrom is able to continue operating, customers are able to get the products they need and everyone is able to drastically limit the amount of physical contact they have.

Office Depot: One other noticeable effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people are now having to work from home due to health concerns. Those unfamiliar or unaccustomed to this way of working will require more office supplies or essentials for their home office. To counteract these increasing demands, Office Depot is now offering free curbside pickup with orders that can be ready in as little as one hour for in-stock items. Customers can use their store locator to find their nearest participating location and get the items they need quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, safely.

Glympse: While not a store itself, Glympse is available to help retail brands through this period. As the majority of brick-and-mortar stores or restaurants are not set up to deal with the challenges that come with curbside pickup retail, Glympse is an app to offer help and support with these matters directly. A shopper places an order online, the local retailer fulfills it, and the shopper receives a direct alert when the purchase is ready to collect. Shoppers can then use the Glympse app to share their location when they’re travelling to the store, and a geofence trigger alerts staff of their imminent arrival so that it can be ready for when they turn up. By combining the concept of delivery and pickup into one aspect, retailers who may previously have been forced to close are now able to stay open and provide a service to their customers when they need it most.

Tips to Have Effortless Curbside Delivery

When it comes to matters involving curbside pickup retail or including merchandising in marketing into your day-to-day operations, it can be tricky to know where to start, especially if this is your first time working with it. Here are some quick and easy tips to help get you started:

Designate A Particular Space: Logistics are everything when it comes to curbside pickup. Not only will you need a specific place to house orders once they are filled but you will need to have an area set up for customers to park once they arrive. External logistics are just as important as internal logistics in this instance. Ensuring the process is streamlined and efficient will ensure that the time when a customer arrives, to when their order is delivered to them is as short as possible. By designating specific spaces for each part of the process, your curbside delivery systems will run much more smoothly.

Plan Accordingly: Following on in relation to external logistics, your curbside pickup strategy needs to be clearly visible and easy to find for you customers. This starts from when they complete their order. All information regarding what they need to do when they arrive, where they need to go, who they need to contact and everything else needs to be given to them when they complete their order. The more information you can provide for them in a simple, easy-to-follow way, the more seamless the curbside pickup will be. If not, the whole process can quickly become chaotic.

Educate Employees: If this is a new thing for you, it is likely to be a new thing for your employees, who may already have seen drastic changes to their job requirement recently. All of your in-store employees need to fully understand the logistics of your new curbside pickup system and know what they need to do and where. To ensure as smooth a process as possible, they need to be trained on what to do and how to do it, in order to offer a great customer experience as well as ensuring they are doing so in a beneficial way for public health.

Be Ready For Your Customers: It’s an obvious thing to say, but you need to be ready for your customers the moment they arrive. Nothing will lose their business quicker than if they are made to wait for their order despite having a designated pickup time. You need to be prepared for all orders that are coming in so set pickup times online that give you enough leeway to complete their order and have it ready for them when they arrive. No customer likes to be kept waiting, especially if they have a specific time related to their order. However, by having a proper plan in place, your logistical set up sorted and an educated workforce, you will be able to create a seamless curbside pickup service.

Final Thoughts

Consumers are increasingly looking for more flexible delivery options and the COVID-19 pandemic has just accelerated this matter. One way to ensure that you are able to keep your business operational and making money, is via curbside pickup and delivery services. This allows you to keep providing goods to your customers in a safe and efficient manner at a time when they need it most. However, curbside pickup should not be viewed as just a passing fad to get you through the difficult times, instead it needs to continue to operate long after the world gets back to normal ways of working to help provide for your customers in the manner they have come to expect. With this in mind, curbside pickup can easily become another successful element of your growing eCommerce platform.

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