Although coronavirus vaccines are being given to countless Americans, there are mask and social distancing guidelines still in place.
Retailers with a brick and mortar storefront have had to get creative to protect the safety of their employees and customers. One way to continue to serve patrons efficiently and swiftly has been to put a curbside pickup program in place.
What is curbside pickup?
This service allows customers to easily place an order online for pick up at a local store or restaurant. When the order is ready, the consumer parks in a designated area near the store, and a store associate brings the pickup order out to the CAR. Customers get to stay safely in their cars with this service option. Make sure your employee delivering the goods is masked up.
What kind of business is right for a curbside pickup option?
Big stores like Target and Walmart, and CVS started offering the service pre-pandemic to help them attract customers and build brand loyalty. When the pandemic hit, small business owners realized that this shopping option isn’t just for the big boys. It’s important to keep a business operating, provide convenience, and practice customer safety.
In the new normal, smaller retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores have joined the curbside pickup service conversion.
Benefits of curbside pickup
Curbside pickup has many benefits for shoppers including:
A better customer experience
The benefits of a retail store can be enjoyed without entering a physical space. In addition to speed, your customers will know that you’re invested in their safety. For more information about how the customer experience will shift in the coming year, read 4 customer experience trends that will shape 2021 and beyond.
In fact, Salesforce reports that online sales from December 1st through 14th in 2020 grew 52% year over year for U.S. retailers that offered curbside, drive-thru, and in-store pickup options. Convenience has value and can lead to repeat business. Our blog post, 5 Simple Ways to Build Customer Loyalty, offers other suggestions.
Curbside pickup is a much cheaper alternative to delivery. Your business could offer pickup instead of free shipping (which many customers have come to expect). This helps customers avoid extra fees charged by delivery services like DoorDash, and Uber Eats.
Have clear pickup instructions
Driving can be stressful and 1st time customers may not know the best route to find your business. Don’t add to that stress. Implement clear pickup instructions. There are several ways to operate curb side pickup like waiting in the car, texting or calling, and picking up directly at the door. You can even create an easy-to-read map on your website outlining traffic patterns and parking options.
Make safety a priority
Customers want to be safe and, of course, avoid coming in contact with possibly contaminated products or food. There’s no excuse for poor safety. For tips to help you establish a working protocol, review these articles from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog:
Promote your online ordering service
In order to be discovered by consumers and let them know you’ve made shopping easy, you have a prominent online presence. Create a website clearly outlining the services or products you offer and implement an easy way for customers to order and communicate.
Social media is an excellent and cost effective way to get your message out there. You can put a little money behind posts and narrowly target a specific demographic. For more social media information, visit the SmartBiz Small Business blog: Social Media Guide for Small Businesses 2021.
Put solid payment options in place
Prepayment is key to minimize contact between your employees and your customers. Offer the option to pay when an order is placed. If you’re looking for a multi-function system, check out this article from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: Restaurant Management Software: 6 Top Picks.
Don’t forget customer service
Your customers and employees are probably under stress as the pandemic continues and the economic landscape is suffering. Make sure your employees are prepared to help customers, answer questions, and diffuse any issues. Our blog has a wealth of customer service content to help you craft a solid strategy.
- Getting Customers to Return to Your Business Post-Pandemic 2021
- Top 7 Customer Service Training Ideas
- 10 Key Customer Service Basics
Explore dedicated parking spaces for customers
Popping up in parking lots across America are dedicated spaces reserved for those needing curb side pickup. But you can’t just put an orange cone and signage out to designate spaces. There’s usually a process through the local government to get these drive up areas established. For example, in Los Angeles, business owners can contact the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to fill out a form. The turnaround is swift so you can get back to business. A quick Google search can help you find the agency you need in your community to contact to put curbside spaces in place.
When the pandemic winds down and consumers are ready and willing to shop and dine inside, there are other strategies to deliver the goods. Choose the one that works best for you so you can recover and rebuild swiftly.
Reserve Online, Pickup In-Store (ROPIS), Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS), and Buy Online, Return In-Store (BORIS) are all vital pieces to building a working omnichannel strategy in 2021.