Connected Contactless: essentials for Curbside Pickup
Creating a customer-focused Curbside Pickup program that supports seamless operations doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some essentials for starting and building a Curbside Pickup program.
The way we interact with one another and with business is forever changed in the wake of the pandemic, with the adoption of curbside pickup by shoppers and businesses virtually overnight. This service is popular with shoppers because it can provide a relative sense of safety and convenience. Shoppers don’t have to interact with others in stores, wait in lines to check out, or search aisles for the items they need.
Now, in many states, nonessential businesses are allowed to open provided they have a solid plan in place for contactless or limited contact pickup options, but that can be difficult. Even if businesses had a solid BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store) system in place, having to adapt that system to contactless curbside can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. There are some basic things that will make your program successful and alleviate some of the struggles associated with adopting a new system.
Curbside by the numbers
Some retailers may wonder if it is worth making the investment into providing a seamless curbside experience. Long before the pandemic, in March 2019, an analysis by Cowen & Co. estimated that curbside pickup could be a $35 billion market by the end of 2020 and that 25% of shoppers will have tried curbside. The swift adoption of pickup by shoppers means businesses must anticipate that these changes in consumer behaviors will be permanent. Online orders for grocery increased by 210% in March and 208% across retail. Our own customers have seen even greater increases in curbside pickup as stay at home orders continue and time slot availability increases due to more efficient store operations. Of consumers who tried curbside for the first time due to the pandemic, 59% indicate that they will continue to use curbside after the outbreak. Future success for your business depends on creating a seamless and customer-focused pickup experience that is sustainable
Where do you start?
Creating a plan for how your business will provide pickup is just one of the essential ingredients. Openly communicating that plan to your customers is of equal importance. Customers rank frequent and clear communication as one of their highest priorities when considering to re-engage with a business. Meeting your customers where they are is crucial to ensuring all customers feel empowered with the right information. While some customers will respond best to push notifications – which are seeing unprecedented engagement rates during the pandemic, others need an email, and many prefer to engage with SMS. Utilize social media to actively engage with your customers, provide updates, answer questions, and communicate the contactless pickup process.
Prioritize limiting contact.
Contactless will remain an important option for the foreseeable future. Technology is a key ingredient in creating a truly contactless curbside pickup experience. While your customers may tolerate standing 6-feet apart in a line outside your store for now, don’t assume they will accept it for the long term. Competitors offering superior pickup experiences will create demand for all businesses to provide seamless direct-to-trunk curbside pickup.
Use multi-channel notifications to alert that a customer’s order is ready for pickup. Ask for their ETA, or have them share their live ETA to so staff can prioritize orders and anticipate when they will need to send someone out to the customer.
Ensure your customer knows how to communicate they are on-premise. If they need to enter a stall number, make it simple to access from a webview or app. A more seamless option is to use accurate geofence triggers that will alert your staff that the customer has arrived at the store. Automating a welcome message associated with the geofence assures the customer that you know they have arrived and will be with them shortly. The industry standard is two minutes – any longer is frustrating for the customer. Extending this to enable 2-way chat between the business and customer can be very powerful, especially when a customer is waiting for an appointment or needs to go into the business. Lastly, ensuring contactless payment options will ensure your customers and staff feel safe. Providing a way for them to pay online in advance is essential.
Use technology to get creative.
Retailers express concern that curbside pickup will create a drop in impulse purchasing and opportunities for sales teams to upsell while talking to customers in-store. Rather than give in to this idea, we believe there is ample opportunity for creativity to create new opportunities for sales.
Send a notification to your customer as they arrive for their pickup of promotions and make it easy for them to add to their order with a click of the button. Keep these items stocked at the front of the store so employees can easily add to their order.
Have your sales reps connect with customers using personalized messaging via SMS or email to check in on past orders and ask if they would be interested in new products. Even if your customers don’t make a purchase, maintaining a positive relationship with your brand will create loyalty.
Once restrictions begin to lift, embrace the new digital, but encourage your customers to buy online and pickup in-store, where possible. BOPIS was a popular way to shop before the pandemic, and with the right offers, retailers can invite their customers back in store. Be sure and communicate the safety measures you are taking so they will feel comfortable coming inside.
Whatever your path forward, remember, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Curbside is here to stay; start small and build from there.