• Andréa Nadeau

Curbside pick-up is a reflection of your brand

Retailers are incurring significant operating costs related to COVID-19: from PPE and Cleaning and Sanitising protocols, to hazard pay, staffing for security, crowd control; and warehouse fulfillment teams to support increased demand for curbside pick-up.

With many retailers balancing traditional e-commerce platforms struggling to keep up with spikes in site traffic, warehouse and shipping delays, many customers have shifted to buy online, pick-up in store behaviours.

It's a good time to reflect on this customer experience growing in popularity. 3 months into the pandemic's social distancing reality, even with stores re-opening, many customers with underlying health conditions, or those wanting to limit their contacts with others continue to opt for this model.

1) Is your inventory count accurate and optimised across all stores in-region?

When submitting an order, customers assume that inventory counts are accurate. The reality is that the last few items are often damaged, lost in the warehouse storage area or subject to theft or inaccurate counts during receiving or at check-out. Moreover, if there's a back-log of curbside pick-up orders, items on shelves may be purchased by customers who do venture in-store. In the search for an elusive in-stock item and coupled with an order pick-up delay will lead a customer extremely frustrated if notified days later that the order can't be fulfilled.

Equally frustrating, is that many retailers have ceased inventory transfers with stores in the local regions, forcing customers to drive across town, wait for pick-ups when there's a store close to home.

2) Are your "track your order" and "your order is ready for pick-up" notifications confusing?

Some organizations are struggling with timely, clear and concise order updates, which lead to poor customer experience and increased volume in customer service inquiries. Moreover, creating overly complex pick-up protocols, sometimes requiring customers to wait in line for hours to pick-up their order.

To counter this experience, there are several curbside products on the market to help optimize order intake and fulfilment and even provide customers the opportunity to schedule pick-up times or communicate with employees as to their parking location.

3) Have you designed your curbside pick-up program with your loyalty program customers in mind?

I receive several loyalty program incentives in my mailbox daily, but I have yet to see a dedicated VIP lane experience when I visit these stores for my curbside pick-up. Sure, I like my discounts or BOGO deals, but time is now a precious commodity as we need to wait in line for everything. I'd gladly trade 10% off for a fast-tracked pick-up process.

4) Will the physical design of your curbside face obstacles impacting sustainability as other businesses around you re-open or weather events take place?

Worker and customer safety cannot be forgotten. Plus 40 degrees weather, rain systems (and eventually snow) will force us to think about sheltering people or providing drive-thru experiences. Not every storefront can consume parking lots, sidewalks. Retailers may face confrontations with restaurants as they roll out patio season, dense mixed use spaces will be a challenge.

What's been your experience with curbside pick-up? Does anyone have it right? Share your thoughts with us.

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