With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers looked for ways to get products with limited contact with other people. Curbside pickup helped satisfy that need while keeping many companies in business. However, customers love the convenience and flexibility offered by this fulfillment method, so companies might want to consider this a permanent service.
USA SHADE understands the importance of curbside pickup, so we designed quality shade structures you can implement to provide services that fit the needs of your customers and business.
What Is Curbside Pickup?
Curbside pickup is a retail fulfillment option where customers pull up to your storefront’s curb or park in designated spaces and have a store employee bring their purchases to them.
They can order products online on a website or app, and establish when and where they would like to pick up their items — this system allows many people to make purchases when they have free time but schedule pickups for when they have more time. They pay online, so they only need to arrive at the store to receive their purchases.
Curbside pickup is one of many alternative customer fulfillment options to regular in-store shopping, including delivery and in-store pickup, also called buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) or click and collect. The limited contact paired with increased convenience for customers sets curbside apart from other online fulfillment methods.
In 2019, only 4% of larger retail stores offered curbside pickup services, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in alternative fulfillment practices. In 2021, around half of large retail chains offered curbside pickup, helping meet customer standards and expectations.
The Value of Curbside Pickup
Curbside delivery can offer several benefits to businesses and customers. It’s a unique service that differs from other online ordering options, like delivery and in-store pickup. It gives customers the freedom to explore and order products while maximizing control over their pickup options. They can still experience top-quality service all from the comfort of their car.
Some other benefits of curbside pickup for customers include:
- Convenience: Many customers choose curbside pickup because of how it better caters to their lifestyle than other fulfillment options. While it is helpful for customers with busy schedules or limited free time, it also benefits people with young children, limited mobility and those purchasing larger or bulk items. It can also help people living in cities or areas with limited parking. Because it works for many lifestyles and demographics, many people take advantage of the convenience curbside pickup offers.
- Quality: Curbside pickup appeals to many people because it helps preserve the product’s quality. Items can get damaged or broken in delivery processes. Curbside gives customers peace of mind when ordering products online because they know their items will be safe while waiting for them.
- Speed: Customers constantly search for quicker ways to receive products to increase convenience. Services like same-day shipping or two-hour delivery appeal to customers because they can receive products when they need them. Curbside offers quicker services because customers can save time by finding exactly what they need online instead of going inside and trying to locate it. Scheduling delivery allows products to be ready when customers arrive.
- Price: Because customers have to come to the company’s location, they save money on delivery, shipping and handling fees they would have to pay if they ordered online. This option allows customers to save money while still encouraging purchases from their preferred stores and brands.
- Comfort: Curbside pickup options let customers match their shopping experience to their comfort levels. While many locations have lifted mask mandates, some people might feel less comfortable interacting with people just yet. Curbside allows customers to receive products from the comfort of their car in adverse weather, like rain and snow. If it is too hot or cold outside, they can keep conditions to their liking in the car and wait for their purchases to come to them.
While the advantages of offering curbside pickup are excellent for customers, businesses can also benefit from this fulfillment method. When you offer curbside pickup at your store, you can help reduce costs. Like how customers can enjoy reduced prices for curbside pickup compared to delivery or shipping, companies can spend less money on handling and packaging when opting for curbside services. When you can deliver the product right into your customer’s hands, you can avoid unnecessary protective packaging.
Offering curbside pickup, which gives more freedom and control back to the customer, can help increase customer satisfaction. While delivery can lead to damages or busy individuals missing shipments, curbside pickup lets customers choose their experience and reduce the negative aspects of delivery. When customers have a more positive experience with a company, they are more likely to continue seeking it out.
Curbside pickup can apply to many industries, but retail services significantly benefit. Customers seek more efficient ways to shop for daily and regular goods, and offering curbside pickup can help meet their changing expectations.
Post-Pandemic Curbside Pickup
Curbside pickup became an incredibly popular service in the retail sector at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2020, grocery stores that offered delivery and pickup services earned around $1.2 billion from customer usage and interest. However, this rate increased 233% to $4 billion in sales in March, allowing grocery stores to continue bringing in money when customers couldn’t enter stores.
The pandemic marked a significant shift in consumer habits as their priorities changed — about 40% of customers tried a new shopping method during the pandemic. In 2020, around 25% of people were only using delivery and curbside services to make purchases. As the year progressed, customers continued using curbside services — around 50% of customers used curbside during the 2020 holiday season.
As businesses open up and COVID-19’s impact on the retail world lessens, companies might consider curbside a null service now that people can safely shop in stores. However, curbside pickup services remained strong consumer preferences toward the end of 2021. In October 2021, curbside pickup sales reached around $6.4 billion in sales for grocery stores, representing that consumer habits haven’t yet switched back to what they were pre-pandemic.
Customers like the speed, convenience and prices that curbside and other new fulfillment methods offer. About 75% of customers want stores to continue to offer curbside pickup, in-store pickup and delivery services even after the pandemic ends.
Why Offer Curbside Pickup to Customers
Curbside pickup can offer several benefits to customers and companies, making it a popular service for both parties involved. Understanding how curbside pickup can serve your business can help you decide whether it is right for you and your customers.
Expand and Manage Services
Curbside pickup offers a way for companies to bring in increased revenue at their locations. Many locations already offer delivery and in-store pickup services for more flexibility and convenience for customers in addition to traditional checkout and shopping options. Adding curbside pickup can appeal to more customers, attracting new shoppers looking for something convenient and easy.
For locations with several types of services, curbside can help increase revenue while decreasing the strain on employees and locations. Because customers submit orders online and establish a set pick-up time, your employees can prepare orders during slower periods to better organize and manage in-store customers during rushes.
Curbside pickup can help increase store revenue while decreasing traffic. Customers love quick services, so adding curbside can help reduce the wait time for several services outside of curbside. When customers use curbside instead of entering the store, lines at the registers decrease, easing the load on cashiers and employees while satisfying all customers.
Stand Out From Competition
While curbside can help your employees manage your customers and increase customer satisfaction, offering alternative fulfillment methods can help separate you from your competition. A study from the Harvard Business Review highlighted how companies that didn’t provide curbside or other BOPIS services saw decreases in sales. These stores lost around 1.8% of in-store sales and 4.7% of their online sales to competitors that offered curbside and other BOPIS services — percentages even increased if stores were closer in location to their competitors.
This study helps highlight that customers are looking for specific buying experiences as much as products. Curbside pickup helps brands compete with fast delivery services like Amazon by providing efficient pickup while ensuring product safety. By offering services that fit your customers’ needs, you can help increase your customer retention and even attract new customers from competing businesses.
Reach Different Demographics
Introducing a curbside pickup service can help increase your customer base, but it can also help your store reach specific audiences. Younger generations, like Gen Z and Millennials, tend to prefer curbside services, with 36% of Gen Z and 31% of Millennials choosing to use this service over in-store shopping. Further, over 46% of Baby Boomers say they’ll not likely use curbside pickup for their grocery shopping.
Because younger generations are more comfortable with technology and making online orders, it makes sense they would prefer curbside pickup since they better adapt to updated interfaces and apps. Implementing curbside services can help attract younger audiences and appeal to the speed and convenience they like.
Curbside pickup also primarily appeals to parents. During the pandemic’s peak, they were among the most likely groups to use curbside pickup next to younger generations, with around 66% of parents using this fulfillment method. Providing more convenient services like curbside helps busy people like parents better balance caring for their children and shopping for essentials.
Improve Customer Retention
When you offer quality services that meet customer needs and exceed expectations, you can increase your chances of customers returning to use that service again. Curbside pickup is a convenient and speedy service that meets the modern consumer’s desire to get essential goods like groceries and care products quickly.
However, curbside pickup can help you keep customers in other ways. Because this fulfillment method prevents damages caused in transit, you can better maintain customer satisfaction and reduce the risk of losing customers over damaged goods. Around 79% of customers will buy from a different company after receiving a damaged product. By investing in safer delivery methods, you can retain more customers and prevent them from seeking out your competition.
Tips for Implementing Curbside Pickup
When establishing or improving your curbside pickup service, you can incorporate several tips to help streamline this fulfillment method and enhance your customer’s experience. Some tips to consider include:
- Developing strong online services: Curbside pickup relies on customers to place orders online and your ability to process them. To establish a successful curbside pickup service, you will need to implement a robust mobile app and website where customers can select and order items for curbside. Apps have become especially successful since 49% of people downloaded two or more apps during the pandemic. Strong apps and websites can help you reach and communicate with your curbside customers.
- Gathering a team for curbside orders: Curbside services require a good amount of employee time. They need to confirm, prepare and deliver orders for customers, which can take significant time away from other services you offer. Especially if curbside becomes very popular at your location, having a designated team that specifically handles curbside can help you manage these orders and continue providing excellent services to your customers.
- Dedicating a section to orders: If you offer several fulfillment services at your company, it can be helpful to create separate areas to store orders. Keeping a section of your store where employees can hold and organize curbside orders can streamline pickup processes. You can help prevent confusion by separating them from in-store pickup, delivery and other order types.
- Syncing inventories: Because curbside serves as the combination of online and in-store shopping, you must ensure your physical inventory matches what you are advertising online. Syncing the stocks and clarifying what is available for curbside and in-store pickup can help maintain customer satisfaction.
- Consider curbside returns: If you already have a successful curbside pickup service, you can further enhance it by offering curbside returns. This service would allow you to streamline the returns process and improve customer satisfaction with another service. You can set the conditions for curbside returns, like limiting it only to online or curbside orders, to help minimize the load on your employees and continue offering vital services.
- Using shade structures: You can help provide weather protection for employees and highlight your designated curbside zones with shade structures. These structures can benefit your business and curbside services, further enhancing them.
Think about how you can advertise curbside pickup, so your customers know that you now offer this service. Especially if this is something that customers are actively seeking, it is essential to make this information clear to maintain their business.
Highlighting curbside pickup areas at locations can help customers who shop in person see other services you offer, while you can use banners and promotions to inform online shoppers of curbside pickup. If you sync your inventories, you can highlight when items are available for curbside pickup at checkout, expanding your customers’ options.
The Advantages of Curbside Pickup Shade Structures
If you are searching for ways to enhance your curbside pickup service, physical architecture like shade structures can be highly beneficial. Shade structures offer covered protection over your designated curbside pickup area, which can help guide customers where they need to be to pick up items. This method can provide several benefits for customers and employees, including:
- Reducing heat: Because curbside pickup requires customers to wait on the blacktop or pavement while employees prepare their orders, sunny days can increase heat. Blacktop can heat quickly on warm and sunny days. Create comfortable spaces for waiting customers and employees by adding shade structures, which can reduce heat by 20°F in covered areas.
- Maintaining branding and aesthetic standards: Shade structures can cater to your location’s branding and design. You can choose from many architectural innovations to support better navigation and seamlessly fit your building’s aesthetic. You can also customize the color to fit your company’s branding to create recognizable structures that customers associate with your business.
- Marking curbside pickup: Most companies designate specific parking spaces to curbside pickup to help employees correctly locate customers and deliver goods safely. Investing in shade structures can help customers distinguish curbside pickup zones from general parking, allowing them to collect their goods and enhance their pickup experience efficiently.
Adding shade structures to your curbside pickup can improve a service your customers already love and show you care about your employees. Our shade structures are incredibly durable, adding another benefit to companies that invest in our products. We use steel to reinforce shade structures, allowing them to withstand winds up to 90 mph.
Types of Shade Structures
When incorporating a shade structure into your curbside pickup system, you can choose from several options. Each design offers unique benefits and can serve your curbside pickup services differently. Understanding each type can allow you to choose the right shade structure for your business and customers. Some shade structure types include:
- Cantilever: Also called hanging cantilevers, these shaded structures allow for thoroughly covered areas with minimal obstruction from columns. Customers can easily pull into spaces with optimal navigation for continual comfort throughout their curbside experience. You can find many shade structure designs for a curated look that fits your company and location.
- Specialty: If you are looking for optimized shade and a unique design, consider our specialty designs. This collection can help if you want to emphasize your company’s aesthetic and create a memorable curbside pickup experience your customers will love. We have many customized designs in this collection that will help your shaded structures and company stand apart from your competition and their curbside pickup services while protecting customers and employees. Two popular examples are our Aquarius and Pegasus models.
With many models and shade structures types available, you can find the perfect design for your business while providing your employees and customers with thorough coverage from the sun and adverse weather. Our shade structures allow you to provide aesthetically pleasing fixtures that fit perfectly into your company’s branding and offer solutions with optimal functionality.
Invest in Quality Curbside Pickup Shade Structures From USA Shade
Curbside pickup can help increase customer satisfaction and retention as you continue meeting their shifting expectations and desire for fast services. There are many reasons why companies should consider curbside pickup, from differentiating from your competition to managing location traffic.
A successful curbside pickup service requires the right tools to support your employees and keep customers happy. With shade structures and shade sails from USA SHADE, you can incorporate powerful tools to maintain comfort for your employees and customers to continue providing excellent services. With ranging customization availability and outstanding durability, you experience high-quality care from your shade structures from USA SHADE.
Explore our selection of shade structures for your curbside pickup service today.