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Curbside pickup was already a promising service enhancement for large businesses. But over the last couple of years,  when in-store and face-to-face transacting became limited or impossible, this digitally enabled convenience became, and remains today, a lifeline for many smaller businesses to service their customers.

Now, almost a year into navigating community health and safety concerns, consumers have not only embraced curbside pickup as a preferred convenience, they now expect it as an option. Let’s take a look at how curbside pickup might be the right choice to add to your business model, and best practices for making it happen.

Who does this service appeal to?

Curbside pickup appeals to everyone that doesn’t want to wait for a delivery or add unnecessary trip time to their list of errands. In fact, convenience is one of the biggest factors in digital purchasing behavior,1 and at an increasing rate often outpaces price and brand loyalty.

That said, certain populations benefit the most from curbside pickup, such as people with disabilities, people with small children or pets, the less-mobile elderly, and busy professionals and commuters who desire to pick up daily necessities on the go. And by not physically shipping your items, you're saving not only on the cost of your shipping carrier, but also on the packaging involved.

Curbside considerations

On-site fulfillment process – Efficiency is key to making curbside pickup sustainable. Train employees on the new process and have a place to put orders once they’re filled and ready for pickup so your staff knows exactly who is going to grab the order and from where.

Solid inventory management – A sound inventory management practice that collectively accounts for sales at all customer touchpoints – eCommerce to in-house – assures that the items customers see online listed as in stock in your store are actually available. Elavon has software that can help you with this!

Communicating logistics – The more you can spell out, the more frictionless the experience will be. Make sure it is obvious to your customers what they should do when they arrive. Do they text a number or do they call? Where do they park? And if you have multiple curbside pickup spots, clearly number them so your customer can let you know exactly where they are parked.

Elavon’s talech software automates customer information, such as an estimated order ready time, ‘Ready Now’ confirmation and any special instructions. Plus, it includes an ‘I’m Here’ function for the customer. The same software also helps enhance and simplify delivery service, and can integrate both curbside and delivery services into existing back-of-house operations for better end-to-end execution.

Manage expectations and promote – Set pickup time quotes far enough out that you know you will have time to fulfill them with your current staff before the customer arrives. Then make sure your customers are well aware that this convenience is available. It can be a competitive advantage for you – especially if executed well.

1NYTimes.com – Customers still like to shop in person, even if they only get to the curb