Curbside Pickup 101: A Guide for Local Retailers
Offering curbside pickup can be a great additional point of sale for retailers, especially during uncertain times. As COVID-19 and its accompanying stay-at-home guidelines continue to shift sales from in-person to online, curbside pickup gives local businesses a low-contact option that can increase revenue while adhering to customer and staff safety protocols.
In fact, the shift has been so popular that Adobe Analytics reported curbside pickup at retail stores has increased 208% during the coronavirus pandemic. With buy-online, pickup-in store now de rigueur, it’s increasingly important for retailers to set up retail curbside pickup to stay competitive.
But if you’re new to the concept, you might be wondering, how do you make retail curbside pickup work? And more importantly, how can you make it profitable?
Entering the Curbside Pickup Market
First things first, what exactly is retail curbside pickup? Retail curbside pickup means any order that’s retrieved outside the physical store. That includes orders placed via phone, from a mobile app, or an eCommerce website. Once placed, a customer just has to pick up their order from an employee stationed, well, curbside.
Sounds straightforward, right? Here’s how to tell if your business is ready to jump into the retail curbside pickup game, as well as the logistics necessary to make the option work.
1. Check Your Retail POS System
Having an efficient Point of Sale (POS) system isn’t just key to traditional sales, it’s critical to entering the retail curbside pickup operations. The reasons?
- Inventory management helps stock what buyers want and keep up with demand
- Integration of sales across all channels maintains orders and retail margins
- Manages efficient and timely pickups (and deliveries)
By investing in a state-of-the-art POS system, local small businesses can streamline payment processing while reaping the benefits of integrating with third-party apps, a bottomline boon for business.
2. Train Staff in Curbside Pickup Procedures
Simply having the right software is only one step in launching retail curbside pickup. Staff training comes next and requires that employees understand proper pickup procedures. Good training will result in a consistent workflow that delivers timely pickups and customer satisfaction. Here’s how to get your staff all on the same page on pickup procedures:
- Lay out an order of operations that gives each employee a specific task
- Assign each employee a specific role, whether it’s taking orders, boxing up goods, or handing out orders
- Have packaging prepped and ready to go before accepting orders
- Keep pickup contactless by offering online payment options
3. Give a Personal Touch
The transactional nature of curbside pickup can feel cold when not employed properly. But by adding a personal touch, small local retailers can not only increase sales but encourage brand loyalty. Here’s how to make the experience as personal as possible:
- Instruct staff to greet customers by name
- Include a personal note with each order
- Offer a coupon or discount to curbside customers
- Give retail curbside shoppers an incentive to comment on social media or write a recommendation on Nextdoor
4. Streamline Your Online Ordering Process
In the current global economy small local businesses that offer e-commerce with retail curbside pickup must work hard to avoid cart abandonment. What’s that? That’s the habit of online shoppers filling up a cart only to later close the window and move on without making a purchase.
41 different studies collated by Baymard Institute found that “21% of US online shoppers have abandoned an order in the past quarter solely due to a ‘too long [or] complicated checkout process.’”
By streamlining the online ordering experience, you can avoid cart abandonment. Here are three tips from WooCommerce to get you started:
1. Leave account registration and email requests for later – While yes, building up an email list is important for ongoing marketing campaigns, it’s more important to land the sale now. Leave information requests for after they’re happy with their purchase.
2. Simplify, test, simplify again – Have a friend or coworker run through your online order process and see if they get stuck anywhere. If there’s any part of the process where you can bring clarity and simplicity, do so.
3. Accept more payment options – It can be such a pain from the consumer point-of-view when a company doesn’t accept their preferred payment option. Don’t let this happen to your business. Accept all the major payment options, including credit card and PayPal, or allow them to pay through their Amazon account.
By implementing these three simple actions, you’ll find a more streamlined process and a reduced abandoned cart rate.
5. Carve Out a Curbside Pickup Space
Curbside pickup will only work if it flows in tandem with your current sales process. To ensure efficiency, you’ll need to demarcate a specific area to handle curbside pickup and be sure to get city approval if necessary. Nothing will rain on your customer’s pickup parade like a parking ticket, so be sure to check local regulations before rolling out this service.
COVID-19 Tip: In these unprecedented times, concerns about health and safety are top of mind for all customers, and that extends to curbside pickup just as much as in-person shopping. Thoughtful planning will help you execute a safe and efficient pickup process:
- Carefully mark off your curbside pickup space
- Clearly mark the area with signs, including 6 feet distance markers
- Send customers electronic instructions on how to pick up at curbside
- Have staff wear gloves when handing off goods
- Supply masks for staff
- Wipe down the curbside pickup area frequently
Remember, investing in your business’s safety protocols isn’t just a health measure, it’s a marketing opportunity that will show customers you care enough to go the extra mile.
6. Promote Your Retail Curbside Pickup Option
Adding curbside pickup won’t increase sales unless you let people know about it. From print to digital ads, social media to the online neighborhood hub, Nextdoor, there are many platforms to do so. Using a variety of these tools will garner the most attention, but there’s one marketing strategy you can’t overlook: The power of personal product recommendations.
According to a 2014 survey by BrightLocal, 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
What does that mean?
Locals trust what other locals have to say about your goods and services!
Nextdoor is the neighborhood hub that thinks local. By using trusted connections, neighbors can exchange helpful information, goods, services, and recommendations for options like your small local business’s retail curbside pickup.
It’s as easy as taking advantage of Nextdoor’s free Business Page. Straightforward to set up, the Business Page allows businesses to instantly connect with locals, build word-of-mouth, and access a built-in audience of real, verified neighbors—a necessity in these uncertain times.
By setting up your page, you can:
- Raise awareness for your business in your local community
- Drive local business using Local Deals
- Strengthen your brand
- Increase support and local connections with free Business Posts
- Use recommendations to drive sales and convert new customers
At a time when many are feeling a renewed sense of community, Nextdoor offers a hub to bring neighbors closer together.
In fact, a story in Quartz reported that, “In the days following the designation of COVID-19 as a pandemic, the number of groups on the hyper-local social-media site Nextdoor rose by 15 times, with users largely discussing how to help those in their community.”
Whether it’s an Instagram account or a Facebook page, social media can help drive business to your retail curbside pickup option. Promote new safety protocols or even post a video displaying how easy it is to use curbside pickup.
Tip: If there’s one thing customers are interested in right now, it’s businesses that aren’t just focused on their bottom line. Use social media as a tool to show your concern for customers as well as products they’re interested in and you’ll reap the rewards of loyal followers.
Nextdoor, Neighbors Helping Neighbors
With social distance policies and stay-at-home orders still in effect in much of the country, the value of offering retail curbside pickup is more than just a new revenue opportunity, it’s a community service. That’s why the hyperlocal neighborhood hub Nextdoor is invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than attempt to grow followers organically, Nextdoor Business Pages give small businesses a built-in audience of members, 88% of whom report to shop at a local business once a week or more. And they want to hear about how you can make their shopping experience easier.
So once you’re ready to roll out your retail curbside offerings, remember to:
Check your retail POS system
Train staff in curbside pick-up procedures
Give a personal touch
Streamline your online ordering process
Carve out a curbside pickup space
Promote your retail curbside pickup option
Plan for the future. Curbside pickup will likely become a part of your business’s ecosystem
And should you need more tips or resources on how to optimize your Business Page, be it to grow your reach, connect with locals, or promote your latest curbside pickup deal, you can always find more information with Nextdoor.
Supply & Demand Executive. Curbside Pickup at Retail Stores Increase 208% During Coronavirus Pandemic. https://www.sdcexec.com/transportation/press-release/21131320/adobe-curbside-pickup-at-retail-stores-increase-208-during-coronavirus-pandemic
Baymard Institute. 41 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics https://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate
Search Engine Land. 88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations https://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803
Quartz. Coronavirus reminds us what functioning communities look like. https://qz.com/1834247/coronavirus-reminds-us-what-functioning-communities-look-like/
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.