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Tips for Improving Curbside Pickup Efficiency

Tips for Improving Curbside Pickup Efficiency
Home | Uncategorized, Retail, Blog | Tips for Improving Curbside Pickup Efficiency

Curbside pickup is continuously revolutionizing the way retailers, restaurants and more conduct their businesses. It allows customers to order their products online and pick them up without having to ever enter a store. The process can save them money they’d otherwise pay on shipping when online shopping and eliminates waiting for their order to arrive.

Because curbside pickup processes are built on a customer’s desire for immediate gratification, it’s important for your business to make the process as efficient as possible so your customers stay happy and keep coming back to you.

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Curbside Pickup has revolutionized a number of industries

Value of Curbside Pickup Efficiency

Curbside pickup has revolutionized a number of industries, as customers are now able to purchase items and pick them up without ever needing to leave their cars. As this process has become more normalized in retail and food service, customers now expect it to become continuously more efficient.

Making your curbside pickup efficient will make your customers happier and more likely to return to your service. However, the process involves numerous steps, which can make it easy for mistakes to occur. Therefore, it’s essential to follow certain processes that will help you streamline your curbside pickup services and better please your customers.

Curbside Pickup Best Practices

Curbside pickup usually follows a general process you can customize to your retail business’s specific situation. Take a look at a general overview of curbside pickup best practices to see how they can apply to your operation:

Curbside Pickup Best Practices

1. Store Inventory Visibility

One common source of confusion with curbside pickup is the customer’s inability to see your store’s inventory. As far as they know, everything listed on the app or website is available to purchase, so your store needs to find a way to keep its inventory up to date.

If your store doesn’t have a complex or extensive inventory, it’s possible to make manual inventory updates by simply listing items as unavailable when your stock in-store gets low or runs out. This approach will keep your customers from accidentally ordering something that’s out of stock. Another option is to schedule times to update your inventory. This method isn’t foolproof, as you could still run out of an item before the next update.

The best way to keep your curbside pickup efficient is to have real-time inventory updates. This process greatly reduces the number of instances when a customer orders something that’s not in stock. Real-time inventory updates are usually done via automated technology that keeps track of items as they’re stocked and sold.

In order to accurately keep track of your inventory and communicate that with online customers, your inventory must be organized. Right before the launch of your curbside pickup system is a great time to do a full inventory analysis to prepare you to keep up with the ebb and flow your inventory will be going through. This process can be time-consuming, but it’s worth the investment to help prevent mistakes in the future.

2. Online Ordering

When your inventory is under control and updated, you can make curbside ordering an option on your website or app. As your customer places an order, they can give you have the information you need to make the process as efficient and easy as possible. This information includes their phone number and the make and model of their car so you can easily identify them when they come to pick up their order.

Your customer will need clear instructions on what to do when they arrive to pick up their order. Some stores opt to have them call the store’s main phone number. Others have the customer select a button on their confirmation message that sends a notification to the store to indicate that the customer has arrived.

3. Order Preparation

Train your staff well to know what the process looks like after a customer places a curbside pickup order. If your business is large enough, it’s helpful to have designated staff members for preparing online orders. Many automated systems will have some sort of notification system, so whoever is working will be aware of when they need to prepare an order.

This is another area where mistakes can easily happen. Be sure your staff is aware of any possible areas of confusion in terms of what a customer is ordering. It’s also important to give your customers a realistic expectation of when their order will be ready so you have the time you need to prepare their order correctly.

4. Notify Customer

Though you gave the customer an estimate of when their order would be ready, it’s still courteous to let them know when you’ve filled the order and it’s ready for pickup. Your customers will be looking for detailed instructions on what to do when they arrive at your store to get their order, including where to park, how to contact you and what information you’ll need from them.

When the customer places their order, you could either tell them how they’ll be notified when their order is ready or give them an option of how to be notified so they see the notification as quickly as possible.

5. Customer Arrival

When the customer arrives to pick up their order, they’ll notify you that they’ve arrived so you can take their product out to their car. You have a number of notification options to consider:

  • Telephone: You can opt to have your customer call your store’s phone — just make sure a staff member is nearby so they can answer quickly.
  • Staff member: Some businesses will choose to have a staff member stationed outside and ready to assist anyone who pulls into designated curbside pickup parking spots.
  • Link or button: Depending on whether your curbside pickup system is on your website or an app, you can have your customer click a specific link or button in their confirmation message that will indicate to your staff that they’re at your store and ready to pick up their order.
  • Beacon: Some stores will have beacons next to their curbside pickup parking spots that are triggered by motion. This option keeps the customer from needing to do anything, as a notification will be sent to the staff when they pull into the parking spot.

No matter which option you choose for alerting your employees, ensure you have a backup plan they can use instead if your system goes down. For example, you can train staff to stand outside and provide service in the event that your beacons malfunction. Knowing how to continue to serve customers seamlessly will directly impact how they feel about your company.

How to Improve Curbside Pickup Efficiency

How to Improve Curbside Pickup Efficiency

Making the curbside pickup experience more efficient and beneficial for your customers can be done by making some simple changes. Here are some curbside pickup steps for your retail business to implement:

Tips For Improving Curbside Pickup Efficiency

1. Train Your Staff

Incorporating curbside pickup training into staff training will serve you well down the road. Though you may have designated staff members to run curbside pickup, it’s important that any member of your staff can step in and complete the process. This type of training should occur for new hires and will be helpful as a part of ongoing training.

If your business is large enough to require a team of curbside pickup employees, make sure that team knows how to work together properly. Offer a way for them to communicate with each other easily — radios are a prime example of technology that can make relaying information simpler. An unorganized team will make the process go more slowly, impacting how your customers feel about your service and whether they want to purchase from you again.

2. Designate a Curbside Pickup Preparation Area

Designate an area in your store or warehouse for pickup orders. Here, store any inventory or materials you use most often for curbside pickups, whether they be packaging materials or frequently-ordered items. This way, your employees are far less likely to have to rush around the building trying to find what they need.

3. Designate a Curbside Pickup Parking Area

Having a designated parking area for customers who are there for curbside pickup is essential to making the process as efficient as possible. Without designated spots, your staff may have to walk across the parking lot or around the block to deliver the product to the customer, impacting their productivity.

These parking spots also give you the opportunity to install cameras or beacons to further lessen the time between the customer arriving and getting the product into their hands. The closer you can get them to your storefront, the better.

4. Invest in Packaging

Because your product is going through more steps and more hands before reaching its final destination through the curbside pickup process, protective packaging is worth the investment.

Further, customers can’t see the marketing in your store when they pick up products. The packaging they receive the product in is a chance to redeem some of that marketing exposure if your budget allows for it. You could advertise your curbside pickup option on the packaging and also use it in-store for more marketing.

5. Streamline the Payment Process

Your customer likely chose curbside pickup because they did not have time to come into the store. The last thing you want is for the process to experience a hiccup at this point as that would likely greatly frustrate your customer.

Portable POS systems can be used for a customer's order

The best way to avoid this issue is to have your customers pay when they place their order if your system allows for it. There are also portable POS systems that you can take out to your customer’s car so they can quickly swipe their card before you give them their order.

Tips for Enhancing the Curbside Pickup Experience

Many of the steps to improve your curbside pickup process’s efficiency begin before customers place their orders. If your store is organized and your workflow is streamlined, you can get through the process much faster.

Tips for enhancing the pickup experience

1. Add Product Recommendations

Customers are far more likely to buy extra products when they’re purchasing them online for immediate pickup. Instead of making them look around your website and risk them leaving with one or two items, show customers personalized product recommendations based on their site activity.

You can do so when they add something to their cart or go to checkout. Even if you give them recommendations after they complete an order, it may encourage them to buy from you again.

2. Utilize Push Notifications

Though email is a tried and true way to get ahold of someone, it won’t increase the efficiency of your curbside pickup process — there are faster ways to notify your customer that their order is ready.

You can choose to send them a push notification so that they see it as soon as possible. As a result, customers will see the notification pop up on their phone screens and know immediately where they are in the curbside pickup process.

3. Use Texting to Your Advantage

If you choose to text your customers about their orders, you can use the medium to promote stellar customer service. This trick may even lead to an added sale if you push them to think about whether they need to purchase anything else. If they decide they need another product, you can easily add it to their order without adding any time to the process as a whole.

This type of conversation acts just like point-of-purchase merchandising — when customers head to the checkout line, they’re met with extra products that they can quickly add to their carts. You can do the same for your online customers through a text conversation.

You can choose to send a push notification to a customer, or text them about their orders

4. Equip Your Staff

Preparing your staff to efficiently serve customers using curbside pickup goes beyond the training process. They need to be equipped with tools that will allow them to be as fast as possible when preparing orders, delivering orders and managing inventory. A practical way to streamline this process is to provide staff members with a tablet that notifies them when an order comes in, when a customer has arrived and other necessary information.

Depending on the size of your business, you may only have one staff member working on all aspects of the curbside pickup process. This type of technology will help them stay organized. If you have multiple staff members working on curbside pickup orders, tablets will help them properly communicate with one another, which is especially important when there are inventory changes.

5. Work With Your Neighbors

If your business is in a strip mall or has a shared parking lot with other businesses, it’s courteous to ask permission before designating a curbside pickup spot. Though a shared parking lot may seem like a hinderance, you can use it to your advantage.

One way to work with the stores around you and increase advertising exposure for everyone is to have a shared curbside pickup space. Customers that come to pick up products from one business may see signs for another business and look into what they have to offer, as well. So long as your surrounding businesses aren’t competitors, this can only benefit your store.

6. Utilize Shade Structures

Slow-downs are inevitable. Though these steps will help you minimize them as much as possible, there will still be unforeseen situations that cause your customer to be waiting in the car longer than they’d like. Even if they’re not waiting long, cars get hot quickly, and on a hot summer day, you don’t want your customer to be sitting in the sun.

Shade structures can reduce the temperature in a pickup area. They’re durable, weather-resistant and add an aesthetic element to your business. You can customize them to match your brand colors and have the same look and feel as the rest of your store.

Here are some types of shade structures for curbside pickup from USA SHADE:

Our variety of shade structures and shade sails gives you the freedom to choose the kind that’s right for your business. No matter what you select, it’ll keep your customers more comfortable while they wait for their orders and enhance the look of your storefront. If you need something even more unique, you can purchase a custom shade structure that fits your exact specifications and desires.

implement curbside pickup

Why Should You Implement Curbside Pickup?

Curbside pickup was a rarity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the virus forced many businesses to close their doors to the public, one way to keep generating revenue was by offering a curbside delivery service. This approach allowed both staff and customers to stay safe while conducting business somewhat normally.

Now, companies and consumers alike have realized that curbside pickup is a beneficial practice. It allows businesses a new way to serve and appeal to consumers and customers to be more efficient with their time. Many customers don’t like shopping in the first place, and this process allows them to get exactly what they need without ever entering a store.

Curbside pickup took online shopping, a phenomenon that was already growing in popularity before the pandemic, to a new level. Online shopping requires customers to pay extra money for shipping and wait a few days or even weeks before their products arrive. With the option of curbside pickup, customers can get the immediate gratification they desire when shopping for a product.

Request a quote from USA SHADE

Request a Quote From USA SHADE for Curbside Shade Structures

USA SHADE has been a leader in fabric structure technology and design for nearly three decades and is always seeking to be an innovative and cutting edge member of the industry.

When you decide to purchase a shade structure from us, you have a number of resources at your disposal to make sure you’re equipped to make the right decision for your retail business. We want this decision to lead to a lasting partnership with us, and we’ll do what we can to make that happen from the design development phase to the construction phase.

We’re committed to providing you with the highest standard of integrity, quality, creativity and service. Contact one of our experts to get your questions answered or request a quote to get started.