Curbside Pickup Best Practices for Retailers

Curbside pickup was already gaining momentum for retailers and other businesses, but when COVID-19 hit, curbside pickup orders rose by 208% in just the first 20 days of April. Pre-pandemic, retailers were already convinced that curbside pickup would be a large part of retail’s future, but now this and other forms of low- and no-contact service are vital for a retailer’s success.

As retailers start to reopen, retail experts are saying that a customer’s curbside pickup experience, among other new forms of service, will be the key to a retailer’s success. Here are some curbside pickup best practices we’ve gleaned from retail experts. 

Keep Your Inventory Lists Updated 

Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than ordering an item and not having it in their bag when they pick up their order. Most often, this happens because of lack of staff  availability for inventory—you need your team members on the front lines helping customers and taking orders. Because of this shift to curbside pickup and other mobile orders, the need for a regularly updated inventory list is critical. This is especially true when competing with industry giants like Walmart, Amazon, and Target, who’ve had their online and curbside pickup processed dialed in long before COVID-19. 

For many retailers, it may be beneficial to use a commerce platform like Shopify to create and manage your online store, including tracking your inventory in real-time. In addition to automatically updating your inventory with every purchase, these platforms let you add and remove products and include hi-res images and enticing descriptions of your products. 

Make Order Changes Easy 

Once a customer orders for curbside pickup, they may need to add or delete items or cancel the entire order. While this is a challenge for retailers, who often try to package orders as quickly as possible to prevent gridlock and serve more customers, it’s a reality of the service and retailers must plan for it. Some retailers use third-party apps like Instacart to manage their orders. In these apps, customers are often given a message that they can only make order changes up to a certain time before pickup. But whether you opt for an app or to fill the orders yourself, you should offer your customers a direct way to contact you (such as phone or live chat) for their questions and concerns. This will ensure a smoother ordering process for the customer and your staff, who then won’t have to deal with frustrated customers and returns. Most importantly, it improves the customer experience, making their repeat business more likely. 

Set Pickup Locations for Customer Convenience 

It may be easier for you to have customers pick up their order near your store’s back door, but is it more convenient for them? Does it give them the idea that they are getting concierge service? Likely no. Customers want convenience, and that means designating a pickup location that makes it easy for them to get in and out easily. It’s also important that your pickup locations are clearly marked with eye-catching signs so they know where they should go as soon as they enter your parking lot. You may be a lot smaller than Home Depot and other stores with several pickup parking spaces, but just one or two will do. Keep your curbside orders in one location in your store so that when the customer arrives, you can just grab their order and go out the door without having to rifle through inventory. 

Provide Clear Curbside Instructions 

A happy customer is one who doesn’t have to go through any mental gymnastics to get their order. You want to give them clear, succinct instructions on where to go and what to do when they come for pickup. That means using clear wayfinding signage and pointing them to curbside pickup locations where they can wait for their order. Once there, give them further instructions: Should they stay in the car? Do they need to call or text the store to let you know they’ve arrived? Do they need to push a button on an app to alert you that they’re ready for pickup? Should they unlock their car door or trunk? You want your customers to feel stress-free, knowing you have things under control and that their order is on the way. 

Along with what they need to do, customers need to know what to expect from you. Is a staff member going to be wearing a mask and gloves when they come out? Will you hand them their order or place it in their car? Being transparent about these seemingly little details beforehand will go a long way in establishing a customer’s trust and gaining their loyalty.  

Train Your Team on Proper Protocols 

Ensuring that your staff is trained to handle curbside pickup service properly goes a long way, not just in good customer service, but in protecting the health of all involved. Staff members will need to be trained on the PPE they should be wearing (such as a mask and/or gloves) as well as how to interact with customers during the pickup process. For example, you may instruct them to hand a customer their order directly, or you may have them load the order into the customer’s backseat, passenger seat, or trunk. Perhaps you want them to ask the customer beforehand which they prefer before going forward. This fosters an environment where all parties feel safe and comfortable. A well-oiled curbside pickup process speaks volumes about your business, showing customers how well-organized and trustworthy you are. 

More Ways to Boost Your Customer Experience

Now more than ever, it’s important for retailers to focus on their customer experience. Though the in-store experience has seen some transitions—some temporary, some maybe permanent—customers are still looking for ways to connect with your brand. Raydiant isn’t just a digital signage platform—it’s an experience platform. It allows brick-and-mortars to offer a superior, interactive in-store experience. Raydiant lets you create and present gorgeous digital signs that animate and catch the eye, social walls that engage, and background music that sets the mood. What else can Raydiant do for you? Find out when you try it, risk-free.