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As lockdowns persist and digital adoption increases, retailers are increasingly moving to a digital-first business model. Despite the shift towards eCommerce, people still want the option to visit physical stores.
Curbside pickup has gained traction with eCommerce retailers as a way to accommodate both online and in-store shopping. This hybrid approach to fulfillment became a mainstay during the pandemic as businesses, workers, and consumers scrambled for ways to maintain social distancing restrictions.
A side effect of curbside service is a demand for a new form of convenience people never knew they wanted, until now. This means that curbside services may last longer than expected, and eCommerce businesses should learn more about this sweeping trend.
At Easyship, we work to help you simplify shipping and fulfillment in every way. Use this article to learn about curbside pick up, the pros and cons, and the eight steps to follow to succeed with curbside pickup for your business.
What is Curbside Pickup?
Curbside pickup, also known as click and collect, is an omnichannel fulfillment model in which shoppers purchase online and collect their orders from a nearby physical location.
These physical locations are often:
- The retailer’s closest local outlet
- Purpose-built lockers
- The post office
- The physical store of a partner
According to the 2017 Retail Consumer Preference Study, just one in three shoppers used a curbside pickup service in 2016. Following a spike in curbside services offerings during covid 2020, in-store pickup increased by over 544% year over year.
Click and collect is nothing new, though the scale is. Retailers like Walmart dabbled with curbside services before the pandemic. In 2013, the mega-retailer began allowing shoppers to order groceries online and retrieve them up at a local store without exiting their vehicle.
Once a nicety, curbside service is now a necessity for many retailers .
How Does Curbside Pickup Work?
Curbside pickup is simple. The buyer places an order online through a website or mobile app. During the checkout process, the buyer chooses whether they prefer delivery or curbside pick up.
If the customer opts for pickup, the merchant receives the order details and prepares the order to be retrieved. Customers can collect their orders from inside the store, or have staff walk the purchased items out to the customer’s car.
Curbside Pickup vs. Local Delivery
Both curbside pickup and local delivery have gained popularity in recent years.
Home delivery, though, has been the preferred online shopping option for consumers during covid, and a few years prior. According to Nielsen, almost three in four (69%) shoppers prefer home delivery over curbside pick up (31%). For example, grocery delivery apps like Instacart have exploded because they let people stay home and safe for a marginal fee.
Unlike with curbside service, merchants offering local delivery are responsible for coordinating the safe arrival of packages. This may require additional staff, strain productivity, and require charging an unwelcome delivery fee. Shoppers value the convenience and safety of delivery services despite the added expense, though.
The Pros & Cons of Curbside Pickup
Offering curbside pickup services are both a strain and a benefit to businesses. Here’s a full rundown of what you can expect when you offer curbside pickup services.
- Speed: Without shipping, buyers receive their items faster.
- Cost cutting: Merchants and consumers both save on shipping costs when using curbside pickup.
- Customer satisfaction: Curbside services eliminates the risk of damaged or stolen packages. This helps to improve the customer experience while minimizing shipping-related headaches for merchants.
- Omnichannel experience: Customers can order items online then interact with businesses physically, helping to reinforce brand loyalty.
- Guaranteed fulfillment: Curbside pickup ensures people get what they ordered on their schedule.
- Inclusive: Shoppers who find it difficult to shop in a store can get their order hand-delivered to their car.
- Socially distanced: An important feature during covid lockdowns.
- Easy rollout: Click and collect delivery models require less operational overhaul than delivery because they better utilizes existing resources.
- Increased expectations: Customers expect orders to be ready upon arrival. Delays of more than five minutes can lead to dissatisfaction and churn.
- Traffic jams: Walk-in and pickup customers both expect fast turnaround. To avoid congestion during busy hours, retailers should optimize their operations to accommodate everyone at once.
- Location mixups: It’s not uncommon for people to visit the wrong location to retrieve their orders. This can cause frustration that reduces customer satisfaction.
- Consumer travel costs: Some shoppers may bristle at the idea of incurring added expense for gas or public transit to retrieve their orders.
10 Popular Brands Offering Curbside Pickup and Delivery
There’s no shortage of brands offering curbside pick up and delivery. Here’s a leaderboard for companies that offer great curbside and delivery options.
- Apple: The world’s most valuable brand allows you to order online and pick up within the hour, provided what you’ve ordered is in-stock nearby.
- Bed Bath & Beyond: Add to cart, enter your details, and reserve your order. Bed Bath & Beyond holds you items for up to three days. Just show your confirmation email at pickup.
- Nordstrom: The luxury fashion retailer offers contactless curbside pickup. Bonus: your sales associate will load the items into your car for you.
- Office Depot/Office Max: Get free free curbside pick up on all in-stock items within just two hours. Find participating locations using the store locator.
- Di Bruno Bros: A Philadelphia-based specialty grocery store, Di Bruno Bros, offers curbside services at all five locations within 24 hours of ordering.
- Dick's Sporting Goods: Dick's Sporting Goods was quick to capitalize on the rise of in-home fitness with free curbside pickup for all online orders.
- Con 'Olio: This specialty foods retailer in Austin, TX, joined with other local grocers to create an entire curbside market for cheeses, wine, produce and more.
- Best Buy: The big box electronics retailer quickly and profitably transformed its soon-to-be-empty stores into pickup hubs for online shoppers.
- The Home Depot: Order online and pick up at customer service within hours at all Home Depot locations. Thousands of items are available for curbside pick-up service right to your car.
- Macy's: Macy’s offers free in-store pickup for clothing, toys, and electronics within just two hours of ordering. Receive an email notification when you’re clear for pickup.
8 Steps To Implementing Curbside Pickup for Your Online Business
If you’re an Easyship user, here’s a fast and easy tutorial on setting up the backend of your curbside delivery services.
Not an Easyship user yet? You could save up to 70% of shipping costs while enhancing your customer experience with curbside and/or delivery services.
- Make sure you have sufficient inventory in every physical location where you’ll be offering click and collect services
- Integrate your POS and inventory management system with your mobile app or website to display up-to-date available pickup locations
- From your online store's admin page, go to Settings > Shipping and Delivery
- Navigate to Local Pickup, then click Manage beside the location that you want to enable. Click Show More to display all locations
- Select “This location offers local pickup” for each location you want to enable
- Change settings as needed for each location
- Then move to “Order ready for pick up notification” and enter pickup instructions for customers
- Click Save
Curbside Pickup: The Pros and Cons
Offering curbside service is a great way to unite your online and offline shopping experience for customers. Meanwhile, you get to attract new customers with a level of convenience your competitors may lack.
If you’re more interested in delivery services, look for a proven reliable third-party eCommerce partner like Easyship. You’ll want to have access to cost-effective courier services (we offer 250+) and a widespread network of fulfillment centers around the globe. Plus, you could save up to 70% off your shipping costs – all while shortening your delivery times and boosting customer satisfaction.
Easyship will always be free, but it also comes with lots of super-valuable features that can make a huge difference in your eCommerce success. Sign up for a free account to see how much you can save!