How to Leverage Real-time GPS Tracking to Enable the Best Customer Pickup Experience

on May 7, 2024

Curbside pickup is here to stay, as consumers opt for at-home                            delivery less and curbside pickup more

Optimizing customer experience and organizational processes remains the top concern regardless of your order fulfillment options. 

Delivery Solutions understands this dual concern well. It addresses this concern with its platform. Among the capabilities is its real-time GPS tracking to enable the best customer pickup experience. 

Let’s look at how real-time GPS tracking helps create positive experiences, real-life examples of its use, and steps for incorporating it into your curbside pickup experience. 

What is real-time GPS tracking?

Real-time GPS tracking is constantly monitoring a target's location using a GPS tracker. You can determine a GPS tracker’s exact location in real time and then monitor the movement of the target being tracked by that device. This is typically facilitated through software solutions or computer or mobile apps.

Geofencing is a feature in GPS tracking systems that allows you to define virtual boundaries or geographical areas on a map. You set coordinates provided by your tracking device to define these boundaries or geofences. 

Delivery Solutions smart boundaries(Image Source)

Geofences can be customized to mark off-limits zones, designated areas, or route boundaries. When a GPS-tracked target enters or leaves a geofenced area, the system triggers actions based on predefined rules or criteria. These actions can include sending alerts or initiating automated processes.

Geofencing is a versatile solution for location-based monitoring, management, and automation across industries. 

Fleet Management: 

Fleet management software uses geofencing to determine the most efficient routes, enhance security, and improve operational efficiency.

Companies monitor and manage their fleet of vehicles by setting up geofences around specific areas. Then, they can receive instant notifications when vehicles enter or exit predefined zones. 

Delivery Solutions fleet management(Image Source)

Asset Tracking: 

Businesses use geofencing for real-time visibility of assets such as equipment, containers, or shipments. They set up geofences around storage facilities or delivery routes and program alerts for unauthorized access or potential theft.

Location-based Marketing: 

Retailers and marketers use geofencing to target consumers based on their physical location. They create geofences around specific stores or areas, including competitor property. 

By geofencing specific stores or areas, they can send targeted ads, promotions, or notifications to potential customers' mobile devices when they enter the designated area.

Security and Safety: 

Safety and security uses for geofencing include monitoring restricted areas, securing perimeters, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. 

Management receives instant alerts if unauthorized personnel enter restricted zones or employees deviate from designated work areas.

How does real-time GPS tracking improve the customer pickup experience?

Delivery Solutions’ platform enables businesses to leverage real-time GPS tracking to geofence their parking areas for customer pickups. 

Delivery Solutions geofenced parking(Image Source)

This capability improves customer experience in various ways. 

Reduced congestion

Geofencing allows businesses to establish designated parking areas for customer pickups. They can strategically choose where these areas will be to minimize traffic congestion and optimize flow. 

Since staff are notified of the customer approach, they can meet customers with their purchase as soon as they arrive. This eliminates pickup lines and prevents circling, reducing congestion and wait times. 

Minimized wait times

Real-time tracking helps employees plan, prioritize, and organize during fulfillment. Real-time alerts of customer approach allow staff to gather the order and meet the customer upon arrival without wait or delay.

This smooth, streamlined process can handle high-volume pickups during the holidays or as the business grows.

Greater convenience

Geofencing creates a quick and painless pickup process for both customers and staff. It minimizes the customer’s wait and simplifies their pickup experience. 

Real-time tracking and geofencing facilitate a quick, smooth, and transparent fulfillment procedure for employees.

Increased efficiency

Real-time tracking facilitates a more efficient order prioritization, fulfillment, and management process for employees. It helps them know how much time they need to fulfill an order and when to start working on it. 

It also helps them determine how much time they need to take the order to the pickup area and meet the customer there without having to stand and wait. And it helps determine when they need to head out to meet the customer so they can prioritize tasks effectively. 

Improved order visibility

Real-time updates keep customers aware of what’s going on with their orders and store employees know how much time they have to work with. 

This transparency gives customers greater peace of mind and breeds loyalty. It also helps staff stay prepared and on schedule when unforeseen issues arise.

Delivery Solutions curbside pickup alerts(Image Source)

Examples of real-time GPS tracking used for customer pickups 

Major food-based companies have already started using geofencing to detect customer arrival and optimize the pickup experience.

McDonald’s

After testing it out as early as 2017, McDonald’s officially                              implemented geofencing last year as part of its Ready on Arrival (ROA) initiative. Customers can place their orders for dine-in or pickup through the mobile app, alerting staff when they approach the restaurant.

The staff can start prepping orders as customers are approaching so they receive hot, freshly-prepped food with little to no wait upon arrival. Restaurants have seen a 60-second reduction in wait time for orders placed through the mobile app. 

McDonald’s plans to expand ROA across its top six markets by 2025.

Chick-fil-A

Similarly, Chick-fil-A rolled out geofencing technology last summer for their mobile app ordering. Customers order through the app, and employees are alerted to prepare their food once they enter the geofenced area.

The app also gives customers an estimate of how long it will take to prep their order based on whether they’re dining in, carrying out, or picking up curbside. 

Testing at 100 restaurants found estimates accurate over 90% of the time, and wait times reduced by an average of 1-2 minutes. 

Panera Bread

Panera introduced Panera Curbside, its geofencing-supported                          curbside pickup service, in 2020. In the Panera app, the customer opts for curbside and indicates their vehicle's make, model, and color. This way, the staff can identify their vehicle location upon arrival.

Panera’s geofence covers the parking lot, so they are notified of customer arrival rather than approach. 

Steps for leveraging real-time GPS tracking for customer pickups 

You must check the following boxes to ensure the best pickup experience with real-time tracking technology. 

Curbside pickup arrival and notification

Choose and define the geofenced area

Decide how big you want your geofenced area to be by determining how much time the staff needs to fulfill an order and meet the customer outside. 

A few variables factor into this decision:

  • The size and layout of your store
  • The location of your store and how that affects commute (small town vs congested city, residential area vs main street or right off the highway)
  • The size and structure of your parking situation (parking lot, street parking, garage parking)
  • The location of your parking in relation to the store

The size of your geofence is a strategic decision but not necessarily a concrete one. You can experiment with different coordinates until you determine what size works best.

Integrate your store app

You'll need to update your store app to integrate GPS tracking technology. This will enable store staff and customers to communicate and send and receive notifications. Delivery Solutions helps integrate this technology with your existing systems.

Or, if you are developing a store app in the first place, it needs to include this capability.

Confirm customer consent and permissions

Customer consent is crucial to this process. Customers need to opt-in and grant permission for your app to use real-time location tracking on their devices. They also need to consent to receiving app notifications.

This is not a given. Consumers have a lot of privacy concerns, and those concerns are increasing year to year as technology continues to advance:

  • 39% of consumers have shut off location-based services on their devices as a security measure, up from 2022.
  • 58% worry that their devices are vulnerable to security breaches, up from 2022.
  • 58% worry about being tracked through their devices, up from 2022.
  • Fewer consumers trust companies with their data than ever before.
  • 39% of consumers consider transparency about how their data is being used to be a top priority for building trust.

App requesting location permissions

Addressing consumers’ privacy concerns is a crucial component of this process. If you don’t have trust and transparency, you won’t win your customers over to this process. 

Set up and integrate store software

Staff will need an interface inside the store connected to the app and the GPS tracking technology. This interface will relay instant notifications of customers' approaches and locations.

Depending on the size of your store and fulfillment staff, you may need multiple strategically placed interfaces within the store.

Delivery Solutions seamlessly integrates with and harmonizes all your systems, streamlining this process and minimizing delays in your daily operations.

Train employees

Your staff will need to learn the advanced technology involved with this process. As you institute this process and develop new procedures to go along with it, employees will need training on these as well.

They’ll need to be able to troubleshoot issues that may arise or work with tech support to address these issues. They should also be prepared to answer any questions they may receive or redirect them to the appropriate parties. 

Test and optimize process

Establish a pilot program where you test the experience at some of your stores for a particular time frame. Gather feedback from customers and employees to iron out wrinkles before an official large-scale rollout.

Enhance customer pickups with Delivery Solutions and real-time GPS tracking

Adopting a geofencing strategy enables you to offer the best customer pickup experience while optimizing organizational efficiency. You just need the right technology and procedures in place. Increase customer satisfaction, garner trust, and adapt for growth with real-time GPS tracking.

A solution like Delivery Solutions' platform can help you smoothly incorporate real-time GPS tracking into your curbside pickup procedures.

Book a live demo today to learn more about how Delivery Solutions can transform order fulfillment and customer experience for your business.

About the author

Russ Bair

Russ Bair is the Chief Product Officer at Delivery Solutions, the leading provider of last-mile delivery and fulfillment software. He helps ensure retailers achieve their goals and they are able to provide meaningful experiences for their customers.  Prior to his tenure at Delivery Solutions, Russ was President of projekt202—an experience-driven consulting firm founded to apply deep ethnographic research to the development of mobile, web, and workplace software.    He received his Bachelors in Computer Science from Texas A&M and has more than 25 years of extensive experience in the software development and consulting fields. While holding leadership roles within organizations or various sizes, Russ has designed, developed, and led the creation of complex custom software implementations for small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies across the United States.   Russ is fulfilled by helping those around him reach their potential through servant leadership and collaborating to create progress and economic value. He currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife Jana and two children.

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Topics from this blog: Curbside Delivery

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