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Guide to Designing Curbside Pickup Shopping

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Curbside pickup has been around for a few years now, but its popularity exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses that may not have planned to implement curbside pickup turned to this new shopping option to retain customers. By early 2021, 50.7% of Top 1000 retail chains offered curbside pickup.

With or without pandemic restrictions, curbside pickup can be a massive asset to your company with or without pandemic restrictions. It gives your customers more ways to shop easily even if they’re on a tight schedule or have mobility limitations. You can give in-store and at-home shoppers a satisfying experience with streamlined curbside pickup.

USA SHADE offers curbside pickup shade structures to make click and collect shopping a breeze. Check out all of our curbside pick up shade options!

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The Need for Curbside Pickup

Curbside pickup combines the best benefits of in-store pickup and delivery. Customers can add items to their cart online, purchase them and pick them up within a couple of hours or the following day. All they have to do is drive to the curbside pickup area, let the business know they are there either by phone or app, and then wait for someone to load their car with the items.

Curbside pickup is not just an extra service — it’s becoming an essential one. Many people expect businesses to have a curbside-pickup option. If your store or restaurant doesn’t have it, people may be choosing your competitors.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll have to expand the flexibility of your offerings. According to Microsoft Advertising Insights, curbside pickup and similar sales will reach 60.4% to $58.52 billion this year and represent 20.4% of total e-commerce growth in 2020. To stay competitive and keep your customers satisfied, you may need to design a curbside pickup service.


The main reason curbside pickup is gaining popularity is the enhanced safety. Curbside pickup reduces contact points and, therefore, lowers the risks of being exposed to COVID-19, other viruses and infections. This benefits both your customers and your employees. Offering this option shows your customers that you care about their safety and reducing the spread of illnesses.


Curbside pickup is an excellent option for people with young kids or busy schedules. It’s also helpful in urban areas where parking is scarce or when people need to purchase heavy or bulky items. Customers can relax in the car, talk on the phone and stay out of the rain or heat while they wait for your team to deliver their items. This also helps make your products more accessible to people who may not be able to walk around the store for very long.


Curbside pickup is faster for your customers. Unlike with delivery, they don’t have to wait a couple of days for their items. They also don’t have to waste time browsing shelves in the store. People don’t have to spend time finding parking and waiting in line.

Sometimes people can pick up items within a few hours. Other times, they can choose a time that is most convenient for them. Either way, curbside pickup is a quick option for those who want to get their items in a hurry.

In-Store Inventory

You can leverage in-store inventory with a solid curbside pickup system. When people place an order, your employees can pick the items out of the stockroom before taking them off the shelves. This increases your inventory flow and leaves more items on the shelves for in-store customers.

Steps for Designing Curbside Pickup Shopping

When implementing a curbside pickup service, there are specific steps you can take to make sure it’s successful. A great curbside experience will improve your brand image and increase customer loyalty. USA SHADE has a few recommended steps for how to design a curbside pickup option.


1. Design an Intuitive Online Platform

First, you must have a user-friendly online platform to find products and reserve them for pickup. You may have already completed this step if you currently offer in-store pickup — just add the curbside option. The platform should allow people to easily distinguish between ordering items for delivery, in-store pickup and curbside pickup. It also needs to be obvious which store they are ordering from and walk them through the process.

2. Train and Support Staff

Your employees are an essential part of implementing any new process. You will have to determine if you will need dedicated curbside staff or if everyone will be part of the new service.

Next, you’ll have to figure out how employees will become aware of a new order. Will they have to check the system, or will they receive a notification? How will employees verify the correct items? What should they do if they can’t find an item? Decide how employees will verify that the order is going to the right person. Encourage your staff to respect health and safety guidelines.

Carefully train your staff to follow the correct curbside process every time. You may want to give them a process checklist or a software system that helps take them through the entire order. Staff will also need to know the best ways to deliver the order, whether handing someone a to-go box or loading a car trunk.

You also need to support your staff. Set reasonable targets for your employees to reach. If your team has trouble reaching the time goals, your customers will be frustrated. Consider extending the time your staff has to pick orders so that they are always ready on time.


3. Ensure Real-time Inventory

Accurate inventory is critical when offering products online. People will be reserving items for delivery, in-store pickup and curbside pickup while customers in the store are purchasing products. Customers will need to know that their product is actually in stock when they order it. The last thing that you want is for people to order their items, show up to pick them up and it ends up that they weren’t available.

Some businesses only allow people to reserve an item for curbside if there are two or more of that item in stock. That way, if someone buys the item in-store, there is still a good chance there will be an item left for the curbside order.

While automatic real-time inventory updates are possible with software, some businesses may not be able to implement them. For example, restaurants may not have enough inventory to warrant high-tech, real-time inventory software. In these cases, your business may be able to update inventory manually. As soon as your stock of certain items starts running low, you’ll have to go in and manually mark it as unavailable for order.

4. Set Customer Expectations

The next step is to let your customers know exactly what to expect from your service. There are a few different things you can implement to help manage customer expectations.

You can set a stock counter on your product pages that let customers know how many of that item is left. If there are only two of an item left, they may understand if the item ends up not being available. You can also implement a feature that shows other nearby locations that may have more of that item. Your platform should show which products are not eligible for curbside.

Your platform should also clearly indicate when they will be able to pick up their order. Some stores like Target and Best Buy offer curbside in just one or two hours. Others, like Walmart, offer a limited number of spots per hour. Depending on how busy it is, customers may not be able to reserve a time until the next day.

Whatever your business chooses to promise customers, make sure you’re able to provide the order within the time limit. Alert the customer when the order is received and when it’s ready. Within those notifications, make sure to explain anything they need to do to pick up their order.


5. Advertise Curbside Pickup

For people to utilize your new service, they need to know it exists. Advertise curbside pickup wherever possible. Highlight it on your website and let customers know which products are available for curbside. If your service allows people to pick up their orders that same day or in just a few hours, make sure to point that out, so the public is aware of all the benefits of curbside pickup.

When you start offering curbside pickup, you may need some stronger advertisements. Consider having a website banner letting people know about the new service, or even an email marketing technique.

You can also place signs around your business to let the in-store shoppers know about the new option they have. Have signs in the curbside pickup area that clearly show people where to go when it’s time to pick up their order. These signs will also double as a marketing tool for people who may not know you offer curbside pickup.

Design Considerations for Curbside Pickup

There are a lot of factors to consider when implementing a new curbside pickup service. Careful planning will help your new service go off without a hitch.


Outline the Entire Process

One of the best ways to ensure that the process goes smoothly is to ensure your customers and employees know how the process works.

Employees will need to understand their part in the process. When a customer puts in the order, your staff needs to know when to start picking the order to get it done in time. They need to know what to do when the store is notified of someone’s arrival. Make sure there are a series of checks to make sure the right person gets the right order at the right time.

For your customers, you can outline the whole process on your website and explain each step during the process. If a customer is viewing an available product for curbside, it should say how soon it could be ready for pickup. When they add the item to their cart and go to checkout, you can point out the next steps. Say when the order will be ready, where they need to go to pick it up and how they should inform the staff that they are there for the order.

After they finish checking out, let them know how you will contact them when their order is ready. Will it be an email, a text or should they show up at the designated time? Make sure they know what to do when they get there. Do they need to check in on an app? Call the store? Walk your customers through every single step to create a seamless experience on both ends.

Create an Order Ready Notification

Part of setting customer expectations and outlining the process is letting your customers know that their order is ready to be picked up. This is an excellent opportunity to notify your customers of any other information that could be useful.

Some additional pieces of information you can include are:

  • The store address and map of the location.
  • Where the pickup area is in relation to the store.
  • Where they should park.
  • A list of items they ordered and are picking up.
  • A list of items that were unavailable or substituted.
  • The time the order will be ready.
  • What they need to pick up the order, such as an order number or photo identification.
  • How long they have to pick up the order.
  • How they should check in when they get there.
  • A telephone number for the store.

Place Signage

One major design consideration is your signage. You will need to place highly visible signs to help point people in the right direction. The last thing you want is for your customers to drive around frustrated because they can’t find the place they need to go to pick up their items.

Place signage in the parking lot, near the main building and in the pickup area. You also may need numbered or lettered signs to mark each parking space so that your customers can let you know where they are parked.


Allocate Space

You’ll need to set aside some space for your new service, including indoor and outdoor areas. Inside your building, you’ll need a space to store completed orders. This could be anything from a small metal rack to a huge storage room depending on the order flow. If you have an in-store pickup service, decide whether you will keep curbside orders in the same area or somewhere else.

Allocate space in your parking lot for curbside pickup. Make sure to consider safety precautions and traffic flow. Mark the area clearly so that only curbside customers park there. Determine if the area will be a small parking area beside the building or spots along the curb by the entrance of the building. Just make sure your employees have easy access to the area so they can deliver orders in a timely manner.

Improve Inventory Management

To accommodate the new procedures, you can improve the design of some of your existing processes. Inventory management is vital when implementing curbside or in-store pickup. You need to let people know if something is not in stock and only allow them to reserve items that will still be there when it’s time to pick the order.

Your system should update as soon as someone buys something off the shelf or reserves it for pickup. That is the best way to reduce the risk of customers ordering an item that they will not be able to pick up because it’s out of stock.

Coupon Usage

If coupons are a significant part of your business, you’ll have to consider how customers can redeem them during a curbside order. If you offer paper coupons, people may not want to use curbside because they won’t know how to use the coupons. Consider adding coupons codes or another way for them to use them online.

Curbside Packaging

Another factor to consider is how to package the items you send out for curbside. For foodservice businesses, you’ll need sturdy to-go containers. For other retailers, you may choose to pack bags into a customer’s trunk.

How will items be bagged? Will some items need to be loaded a certain way, so nothing gets broken? Ensure the staff knows the best way to pack items to ensure they stay safe during the car ride.

Benefits of Adding Curbside Pickup Shade Structures

While curbside pickup is often much faster than delivery, in-store pickup and standard shopping, people will sometimes have to wait in their cars. This can be a problem if it’s sunny and temperatures are high. Your employees will also have to be outside to deliver orders, and too much sun is not in their best interest. Installing shade structures around your curbside parking area can increase both customer and employee satisfaction.

Reduced Temperatures

The main benefit of curbside shade structures is the reduced temperatures and sun exposure for your customers and employees. Your customers will be much more comfortable in their car if they have to wait there for a few minutes to receive their order. Your employees will also appreciate being able to work in the shade instead of the hot sun.

Customized Options

Curbside shade structures can also provide an aesthetic benefit. There are many options and different designs to choose from to find the system that best suits your needs. You can customize them with your brand colors to improve the entire appearance of the curbside area.

Check out our fabric and color options to find the best fit for your outdoor setup.

Types of Curbside Shade Structures

There are many different types of shade structures you can consider for your pickup area. The type you need may depend on the size and shape of the curbside area.

Cantilever Shade Structures

Cantilever shade structures are very versatile and can provide a lot of shade without the obstruction of posts.

  • Single Post Pyramid Cantilever: This single post shade structure only requires one post, which means we can place it while retaining open space. From just one column, this structure can provide almost 400 square feet of shade.
  • Arch-Truss: The Arch-Truss shade structure can provide a unique look to your pickup area while still keeping the columns out of the way.
  • Panorama: This elegantly designed panoramic structure is ideal for shading vehicles and parking areas.
  • Full Arch Cantilever: The Full Arch Cantilever provides a clean look to your curbside area.

Polygon Shade Structures

Our specialty shade structures are uniquely designed shade solutions that can fit many different spaces while improving the overall aesthetics of the area.

Browse USA SHADE Commercial Shade Structures

Take your curbside pickup area to the next level with attractive, high-quality shade structures from USA SHADE. We have industry-leading processes that allow us to create innovative fabric structures that can improve your space. Keeping your customers and employees comfortable is an essential part of implementing curbside pickup at your business.

Ready to talk to an expert about your new project? Contact USA SHADE today.