Today’s state of the industry calls for transformation at an unprecedented pace for retailers. Almost overnight, curbside pickup has surged more than 208%. Those who may not have originally prioritized curbside pickup programs are now pivoting towards the new norm. Even those retailers that had programs in place are now faced with the sudden increase in adoption from consumers, and troubleshooting through logistical challenges to provide a better customer experience.
This has left some grocery, convenience, and quick-service retailers reeling. However, it’s not too late to implement or revise the tools and resources that will help your business maintain competitive operations. Here are four ways to ride the wave while setting your business up for optimal success when it comes to retail curbside pickup both today and tomorrow.
1. Prioritize the Customer Experience
Your retail operation has won favor with your customer base because of the convenience and stellar experience your front-line employees have provided from day one. However, when face-to-face transactions are difficult to execute, or customers begin to feel more comfortable with contactless experiences, your operation needs to be prepared to side-step quickly to not lose customers. Taking your business to new heights with a retail curbside pickup solution not only requires the tools that can make this happen quickly but also requires a solid plan for providing a remarkable customer experience via a new delivery method.
Not only will employees need training on how to close out the experience with remarkable pick-up service, but you’ll need to ensure that every step is seamless for the customer, from easily finding the products they need including alcohol and tobacco to securely paying for them. If your retail curbside pickup solution gives customers technical difficulties, they will abandon their carts in favor of a competitor.
2. Focus on Logistics
Your employees will need guidance on how to interact with curbside customers. Beyond the basic front-lines etiquette, you’ll have to consider what procedures you’ll put into place that will make both customers and employees feel safe, and make the pick-up process as quick and efficient as possible. Before launching your program, think through how your quick-service retail business can mitigate the following:
- Determine where and how your customers will pick up their orders.
- Designate a parking/pickup area of your lot with proper signage.
- Some customers will want a contactless experience with food brought to their car while others will be willing to come into your store to pick-up from a designated area or shelf. Create processes to handle both.
- Ensure packaging maintains the product quality customers receive in-store.
- If you are selling food or drinks, ensure your packaging is secured and sturdy.
- Be considerate with fragile goods like eggs, to make sure they make it home in one piece.
- Have a plan in place for which employees will be in charge of fulfilling curbside orders.
- Consider the need for additional staff during each shift to take on the extra demand and ensure curbside customers are well attended.
3. Deploy An Effortless Payment Process
Some customers are wary about ordering online because of the safety of their payment information. Ease their mind by partnering with an industry-leading payment processor such as Square who prioritizes safety and includes encryption and is PCI-compliant. In addition to providing customers the peace of mind that comes with secure payment processing, the process must be as intuitive and simple as possible and be able to accept all types of payments. Any friction within the checkout process can lead to cart abandonment and your customers buying from a competitor.
4. Amp Up Your Marketing
After logistics planning, implementation, and training, it’s time to get the word out to your customers about your retail curbside pickup program. There are many things you can do to help spread the word to your foot-traffic customers via in-store marketing that includes:
- Signage like posters and handouts near in-store checkout, as well as outside and visible through windows, or at the pump for gas station retailers.
- Providing staff t-shirts or vests that promote your new offering.
- Placing a QR code on signage or card handouts that links to a direct download to your curbside app.
Additionally, leverage the customer management functionality of your point of sale system to execute digital marketing regarding your service offering. Create a special offer (like $5 off your first curbside order) and place a promotional banner on your website to entice customer engagement. Leverage email marketing to distribute this message to your current customers, as well as promote it on social media to relevant audiences.
When it comes to implementing a profitable and efficient retail curbside pickup program, (or revising a current one), it can often feel overwhelming—especially when time is of the essence. Let your first step be consulting with a solutions provider who is your ally for success. Petrosoft offers a QwickServe Curbside Pickup solution that is a stand-alone product that does not require integration with a specific back-office system. Our full-service solution integrates with Square Payments and allows any product or service—including alcohol, tobacco, and lottery goods—to be ordered and pre-purchased by customers for the ultimate convenience experience.