Curbside Pickup: Adapting to a New Normal

By: 3C News & Events – June 3, 2020

As we know, the global effects of COVID-19 have been sudden, uncomfortable, and immobilizing. The abrupt nature of these unfamiliar circumstances caught society by surprise and rapidly forced adaptations in our way of life.

The sudden appearance of COVID-19 has also created a new vocabulary around the world. One such for businesses: the Low Touch Economy. Simply put, the Low Touch Economy refers to an increase in hygienic practices that result in a decrease in physical contact during a business transaction. The heightened awareness of how infection can spread through crowds and human contact has forced brands to shift their services and put in place a number of new operational practices that allow their business to remain functional while adhering to new governmental health and safety measures.

For both the retail and restaurant industries, one popular practice in this new economy is curbside pickup, which features safer delivery methods like limited physical contact and added protection to packaging. This service has enabled brands to continue operating brick and mortar stores and generating revenue despite limitations to in-store traffic. Luckily for these businesses, many consumers are no strangers to curbside pickup. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of brands offering the service had already been increasing over the past few years to coincide with the growing popularity of consumer convenience programs like buy-online-pick-up-instore (BOPIS) and mobile order ahead.

However, questions naturally arise with such a rapidly changing landscape. Is the now-widespread practice of curbside pickup here to stay post-pandemic? What are some of the challenges that brands are facing as they roll out new curbside pickup programs? What solution is there for brands to make curbside pickup a success for both them and their customers?


Curbside Pickup Is Here to Stay

There were good reasons why curbside pickup was already on an upward trend with consumers—mainly the convenience factor. Society as a whole has become busier. People look for ways to simplify tasks and maintain balance in their schedule. Before the pandemic forced us into a Low Touch Economy, the convenience economy was ramping up on its own. Curbside pickup is the perfect way to provide a swift, simple service to customers—saving consumers time and avoiding the potential hassles that come with in-store shopping like finding a parking spot or waiting in long lines.

In addition, it’s also a free option for customers. Cost-conscious consumers can skip shipping or delivery fees simply by handling the pickup themselves. Once society regains a sense of normalcy, curbside pickup is likely to remain a normal part of shopping experiences across industries.


Curbside Pickup Growing Pains

Many brands know that quickly launching a new service comes with its challenges. Experience isn’t gained overnight, so hiccups are normal and adjustments are to be expected. Instituting a new curbside pickup program brings changes to technical infrastructure, customer communication, and associate training. As a communication-heavy service, it’s important that there are proper and effective communication channels set up in order to have a successful curbside pickup service. Just as important, store associates must also know how to use these new channels to communicate and deliver quality service to consumers.

Communication channels used for implementing curbside pickup can vary between brands and industries. Popular channels include in-app messaging, SMS, RCS, email, and online chat. However, many brands lack experience in using these digital communication channels effectively and/or do not know which channels best fit the preferences of their consumers. For example, a retail store may find that emails aren’t as effective for their specific customer base as SMS.  Another may find its associates have some difficulty understanding how to use the communication tool to chat with customers online and need additional training. Whatever the case, it’s normal to make adjustments during the rollout of a new curbside pickup service. Growing pains are uncomfortable, but the end result of a successful service is well worth it.


Finding the Right Solution

It’s essential that businesses evolve their messaging strategies in order to deliver two-way communication. The right setup is the difference between an underwhelming and superior customer experience. Ideally, brands should strive to have a few different communication channels orchestrated into one harmonious system. For example, being able to process order requests via SMS, online chat, and voice allows customers to be catered to according to their preferred channel. This results in frictionless communication and a smooth operation for each individual store.

To learn more about how you can get up and running with a simple curbside pickup solution in as little as five days, visit us here.


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