How to Optimize Your Curbside Pickup Experience with Real-time Alerts

on Dec 20, 2023

Standing out as a retailer can be difficult because most retailers employ similar technologies and processes. However, in recent years, there’s been increased adoption of curbside pickup as a new option for retailers. While it isn’t new, curbside pickups have become more prevalent since the pandemic.

In this article, we’ll discuss what curbside pickups are, the benefits of curbside pickups, and common challenges associated with curbside pickups. We'll also discuss why real-time alerts are important in helping you optimize your curbside experience.

What is curbside pickup? 

Curbside pickup refers to a service where customers can order items online and pick them up at a physical store without leaving their vehicles. It's led to a change in how customers shop by making purchases easier and effortless.

As mentioned earlier, curbside pickup isn’t a brand-new concept. However, it gained significant popularity during the pandemic, as it allowed customers and retailers to conduct contactless deliveries. As a result, 47% of the top 500                                 retail chains currently offer curbside pickup.

There are many stages involved in curbside pickup:

1) Online ordering

Customers begin the curbside pickup process by browsing the store’s website or app. They add the items they'd like to buy to their virtual cart and checkout. This is when the customer chooses curbside pickup as their preferred delivery method.

2) Order preparation

Once the store receives the order, the store staff members package the items and ensure everything is in good condition.

3) Customer notification

Once the order is ready, the customer is notified via email, SMS, or the store’s app to pick it up. Detailed instructions on where to park and what to do upon arrival are also sent.

4) Arrival at the store

The customer drives to the store and parks in the designated curbside pickup spot. The spots are often located near the store entrance for easy access.

5) Verification and handover

When the customer arrives, they notify the store via phone or store app. The store staff then verify the customer’s identity and the order details. Once verified, the staff brings the items to the customer’s vehicle while the customer remains in the car.

Benefits of curbside pickup

There are lots of advantages to adopting curbside pickup as a delivery option. Here are some of the top ones:

Advantages of curbside delivery

1) Convenience

Curbside pickup emphasizes ease. It allows customers to shop from the comfort of their homes without spending time waiting in long checkout lines. With only a few taps on their phone, customers can easily make online purchases and pick them up whenever they want. This is why up to 25% of online shoppers use curbside pickup for a seamless experience.

2) Reduced shipping costs

Extra costs, such as shipping fees, are the number one reason people abandon their carts. Curbside pickup helps solve this, as it encourages customers to collect their orders from the store. This reduces shipping costs, leading to higher profits and increased efficiency.

3) Increased sales

Curbside pickup boosts online sales and encourages additional in-store sales, as customers are more likely to visit a store they’ve already bought items from. As a result, 89% of delivery chain executives agree that investments in technologies, such as curbside pickup, have been effective in improving supply chain resiliency.

4) Improved customer experience

With 17% of US online shoppers abandoning an order because of a “long checkout process,” it’s clear that customer convenience is paramount. Curbside pickup improves the overall customer experience. It provides a seamless and contactless shopping journey and aligns with the growing expectations of customers. Great customer experience also helps foster a positive brand image.

5) Reduction in return rates

Curbside pickup allows customers to inspect items before accepting them. This hands-on experience reduces item returns due to incorrect sizing, damaged goods, or unmet expectations. By allowing customers the opportunity to examine their ordered products before leaving the store’s parking lot, retailers decrease return rates.

6) Increased flexibility

Curbside pickup offers flexibility to customers, as the customer determines when they'd like to pick up their purchase. This allows curbside services to cater to a wide range of schedules and preferences. This flexibility may be in part why                   35% of online shoppers have used the curbside pickup option within the last six months.

Common challenges of curbside pickup

While there are a lot of benefits to implementing curbside pickup, it also comes with its own set of unique problems. Here are some of the problems to watch out for:

Challenges to avoid during curbside deliveries

1) Operational complexity

Curbside deliveries require flawless coordination between online systems, in-store inventory, and customer service. Managing all these moving parts can be challenging, especially for retailers with large product catalogs.

2) Staff training

The key to a great curbside delivery system is a trained and responsive workforce. Staff need to be well-versed in the products and the curbside pickup steps. Proper training is essential to ensure employees can handle customer interactions well, verify orders, and maintain a high standard of service throughout the entire pickup process.

3) Communication challenges

Clear and timely communication is important for curbside pickup. Retailers need to effectively inform customers about order status, pickup instructions, and any necessary changes. Communication breakdowns from technical issues or human error can lead to customer frustration.

4) Parking issues

Limited or inconvenient parking spaces can pose a significant challenge for customers and retailers. Inadequate parking can lead to congestion, longer wait times, and a negative customer experience. Factors such as placement of curbside pickup locations, accessibility, and visibility must be considered when setting up a successful pickup experience.

5) Inventory management

There needs to be accurate inventory management for curbside pickup services to be effective. In fact, 20% of consumers won’t shop at a retail store that claims a product is available but finds out it’s not when they try to pick it up.

Real-time tracking of product availability is essential to prevent overselling, stockouts, or incorrect orders.

6) Security concerns

Security is a paramount concern in curbside deliveries. Strict measures should be taken to verify customers’ identities and prevent fraudulent pickups. Additionally, ensuring the safety of staff members during curbside interactions is crucial. Security protocols — such as verification checks, staff training on potential risks, and CCTV surveillance — should be implemented.

How Delivery Solutions' real-time alerts improve your curbside experience

Curbside delivery options are a great addition to every retailer’s delivery options. However, as good as they are, there's still a lot of room for improvement. A key component of the curbside delivery process is seamless coordination internally within the different retail departments and externally between the retailer and the customer. 

Improve your curbside experience with real-time alerts

With Delivery Solution’s Omnichannel Experience Management (OXM) System, retailers and customers get real-time notifications on every step of the delivery process, from order confirmation to delivery. Here’s how Delivery Solutions’ real-time alerts transform the curbside experience, making it efficient, convenient, and hassle-free.

1) Instant order confirmation

Upon placing an order for curbside pickup, the retailer and customer receive an instant confirmation. This immediate notification assures customers their order has been successfully placed. At the same time, it gives the retailer the go-ahead to start processing the order.

2) Updates on order status

From order preparation to readiness for pickup, customers receive timely updates, keeping them in the loop at every stage of the delivery process. This transparency builds trust and puts the customer’s mind at ease regarding the status of the order.

3) Precise arrival information

Customers receive notifications when their order is approaching completion and when it's ready for pickup. These alerts include estimated delivery times, allowing customers to plan their visit. This results in a smooth handover of their purchases.

4) Seamless communication

Real-time alerts encourage effortless communication between the store and the customer. The customer is instantly notified if there are any delays or changes during the pickup process. This allows customers to adjust their plans as needed and prevents miscommunication.

5) Post-pickup surveys

After the pickup is complete, notifications can be used to send requests for feedback. This valuable information allows businesses to continuously improve their curbside services.

Integrating real-time alerts into your delivery process is beneficial for your curbside pickup experience. Delivery Solutions’ OXM platform improves the curbside experience and sets new standards for customer experiences in the retail industry.

Improve your curbside pickup experience

Curbside pickups offer a great deal of usefulness and flexibility to retailers; however, they come with a unique set of problems. A great way to combat such problems is by using real-time notifications to verify the order process.

Delivery Solutions' platform offers a wide range of features, including unified communication, tracking, and visibility across the entire omnichannel offering. It helps you automatically coordinate your same-day shipping, in-store pickup, curbside, buy online pickup anywhere, and lockers, among others.

Optimize your curbside experience today with real-time alerts from our platform. Book a free demo today to get started.

About the author

Maureen Pearson

Maureen Pearson is the Senior Director, Implementations for Delivery Solutions, the leading provider of last-mile delivery and fulfillment software. Maureen joins our team with over 26 years of experience in software development and delivery for many sectors and customer markets. This includes custom software design and development, process improvement and change management, and building large scale PMO services with internal and client teams. Prior to joining Delivery Systems, Maureen created and ran large PMO practices within various consulting delivery organizations. Maureen is scrum master and PMP certified and holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from St. Mary's College.


Topics from this blog: Curbside Efficiency Logistics

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