What Is Curbside Pickup: A Complete Guide

what is curbside pickup

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If you’re looking at offering curbside pickup services to remain competitive, you’re in the right place.

In today’s e-commerce landscape, convenience is the name of the game. Businesses are competing with new offerings that can make shopping in-store and online a more seamless experience.

What is curbside pickup, and how can it help you improve the customer experience?

I’ll discuss its meaning and how it works in this guide. I’ll also discuss the benefits, challenges, and in-betweens for sellers and buyers.

Let’s start.

What Is Curbside Pickup?

The curbside pickup meaning refers to an option that allows customers to place an order on a business’s online store or via the phone. They then pick up the items at the parking lot of their physical stores.

This option lets customers buy items without getting inside the store or even going down from their cars.

Although initially just a new retail service trend, curbside pickups have become a reliable choice for buyers. With this option, they don’t have to go into the store to shop, as their items are already available to collect when they arrive.

What Is Curbside Pickup vs. Click-and-Collect?

In-store pickup, also widely known as click-and-collect, is one of the first retail store offerings to make shopping more convenient.

It’s similar to how curbside pickup works. Customers place an order online and then go to their selected store location to pick up their purchase online.

However, online shoppers must enter the store and proceed to a designated pickup counter to collect their orders. Hence, click and collect.

With a curbside pickup service, customers don’t have to leave their cars. The customers wait at the designated parking spot, curb, or another pickup location. Then, a store associate brings the online purchase to their location.

What Is Curbside Delivery vs. Pickup?

With the pickup option, the customer goes to a local store to pick up their goods.

With curbside delivery, the customer receives their online order in their home address, but not directly on their doorstep.

This option existed before the pandemic, but lockdowns and social distancing rules called for further streamlining curbside delivery and the online shopping experience.

Also called contactless delivery, this option allows for distance between the delivery person and the receiving customer.

The delivery person drops the package close to the recipient’s door, then leaves or provides some space for the owner to pick up their order.

How Does Curbside Pickup Work?

what is curbside pickup

In general, this is how the process works:

  1. Customers buy online.

  2. They select the curbside pickup option and a date.

  3. The physical store prepares the order for pickup.

  4. The customer arrives at the scheduled date and time.

  5. The customer parks at the designated waiting area.

  6. A staff brings out the order to the customer’s car.

This is a general idea, but the process may look vastly different depending on whether you’re the seller or the customer.

How Does Curbside Pickup Work for Sellers?

How Does Curbside Pickup Work for Sellers?
  1. A customer places an online order.

  2. You get a notification.

  3. The staff prepares the orders, notifying customers of out-of-stock items.

  4. The order goes to a holding area while waiting for the customer arrival.

  5. You notify the customer that their order is ready for pickup.

  6. The customers arrive and notify the staff.

  7. You hand in their order and update your system.

How Does Curbside Pickup Work for Buyers?

How Does Curbside Pickup Work for Buyers?
  1. You check if the store has curbside pickup services.

  2. You check out your desired items and provide your information.

  3. You choose a curbside pickup option and schedule a date and time.

  4. You wait for confirmation.

  5. You go to the store at the scheduled date and time.

  6. You park or wait at the designated spot and notify the staff.

  7. A staff member hands your curbside order, and you verify it’s yours.

Where Is Curbside Pickup Available?

Most big companies offer curbside pickup options to their customers, such as:

  • Walmart

  • Home Depot

Let’s explore how they offer the same service.

What Is Curbside Pickup at Walmart?

What Is Curbside Pickup at Walmart?

Walmart offers same-day curbside pickup for its grocery and retail store options. Its pickup policy states you should wait for an email stating your order is ready before going to your chosen location.

If you want to cancel your Walmart’s pickup order, do so immediately. Once your orders are ready for pickup, you won’t be able to cancel or alter it anymore.

What Is Home Depot Curbside Pickup?

What Is Home Depot Curbside Pickup?

Home Depot is tricky since not all stores offer curbside pickup. Call your local Home Depot branch to confirm their store hours and if you can place a curbside pickup order.

Who Does Curbside Pickup Aside From Retail Stores?

Curbside pickup is a valuable service that small and large businesses alike can use to increase online sales and improve brand loyalty.

How Does Grocery Pickup Work?

Curbside pickup for grocery stores is similar to how most curbside pickup work.

When you order groceries online, ensure the store is offering curbside pickup. Then, you pay online and schedule a curbside pickup.

Although curbside pickup works well for dry goods, you won’t get to select products individually with your online orders.

Your pickup orders, especially with produce, rely solely on the store employee to pick out. Some grocery stores still allow you to return your pickup orders if you spot defects.

What Is Curbside Service for Restaurants?

What Is Curbside Service for Restaurants?

A restaurant can offer curbside pickup service directly to consumers.

Orders are immediately prepared for curbside pickup, and a customer can drop by the restaurant, skip the lines, and automatically get their orders.

To do this, customers have to call in advance, make the order, and arrive during pickup time.

What Are the Benefits of Curbside Pickup?

🟠Sellers🔵Buyers

Increased Customer Satisfaction

No Shipping Fee

Affordable Alternative

Time-Saving

Guaranteed Delivery

No Queues

Easier Logistics

Can Be Faster Than Delivery

The reason why curbside pickup is so popular is because of its many benefits.

Here are some of the main benefits of curbside pickup.

  • Increased Customer Satisfaction

    If everyone shops inside your store, you’ll struggle to deal with every customer. Unless each customer is offered quality service, some might complain, negatively affecting your business.

    By offering curbside pickup, you’re decreasing the number of customers needing to purchase items inside your store.

    You’ll also open your doors to new customers that would’ve never bought from you if you didn’t offer this option. Some buyers don’t want to pay extra to order online unless you offer free shipping.

  • Affordable Alternative

    Curbside pickup is affordable not just for buyers but also for sellers. Since businesses don’t need to deal with delivery companies or personnel, they can save on logistics.

    Some companies offer strictly curbside pickup or in-store options only.

  • Guaranteed Delivery

    The problem with delivery is that although unlikely, there’s a risk of loss, which the company sometimes needs to cover.

    With curbside pickup, companies can ensure customers get their orders since they pick up their purchases directly.

  • Easier Logistics

    For sellers, it also allows for easier logistics since you only need to deliver to a customer’s pickup locations, and in some situations, you don’t even need to contact them.

    By cutting out transportation, companies also don’t need to deal with additional personnel and insurance policies.

What Is a Curbside Pickup for Buyers?

The main advantage of curbside pickup for buyers is it’s a cheaper alternative to having your orders delivered because you don’t have to pay shipping fees.

If you live next to a store or go to a store anyway, you might as well do a curbside pickup for some of your most important purchases to save time. If the store offers same-day pickup, you can get them faster than waiting for delivery.

Some customers favor curbside pickup for groceries since they don’t have to deal with queues or walk around to find their ideal items.

What Are the Challenges of Curbside Pickup?

🟠Sellers🔵Buyers

Operational Complexity

Additional Trip

Space and Parking Limitations

Gas Expenses

Implementation

Waiting Time for Busy Staff

Curbside pickup isn’t a perfect solution for companies. Although the option of curbside offers many benefits, you still have to assess whether it’s suitable for your business.

Some companies or sellers might find it difficult to offer curbside pickup because of the following.

  • Operational Complexity

    If you already offer multiple forms of delivery or sale, adding curbside pickup could lead to operational complexity.

    Here are some additional considerations.

    • If you’re dealing with high-volume orders, you need a proper storage facility and system to ensure the orders are safe and don’t mix.

    • You may lack the logistical connections to send your packages to different locations.

    • You need to coordinate with too many staff to organize a curbside pickup.

    • You’re liable for the products until the customer picks them up.

    • There’s a risk of heavier backlash when you get an order wrong since the customer has to drive to your store.

    In these situations, we recommend sticking to your conventional delivery forms instead of adding a curbside pickup option.

  • Space and Parking Limitations

    If you don’t have enough curb space, offering a curbside pick-up option might be difficult. Unless you can designate nearby parking spaces to hold pickups, your buyers will struggle to pick up their orders.

    This could lead to a bad customer experience and negatively impact your brand.

    If you’re renting stores in a strip with shared other tenants, offering curbside pickup can cause friction with other stores, especially if your customers start parking in their spaces.

  • Implementation

    Your regular customers might not like to use curbside pickup for some reason. If you don’t have many customers that want to do a curbside pickup, you could benefit more from removing this option.

    Depending on the scale of your operations, you might need in-store space dedicated to curbside deliveries to cater to these orders.

    If you don’t see an increase in customers for a given time when you offer this pickup option, you might run your business more efficiently if you just remove it.

What Are the Challenges of Curbside Pickup for Buyers?

The main challenge of curbside pickup is driving to the location or waiting for the delivery.

While this is convenient if you’re already planning to go to the pickup location, it can cause additional stress if you go out of your way to pick up your package.

On a busy day, you might also need to wait a while for the delivery of your package from the store to the car.

How Does Modern Technology Help Curbside Pickup?

How Does Modern Technology Help Curbside Pickup?

The introduction of curbside pickup has revolutionized the way retail stores operate. It allows them to sell items to customers without traditional delivery services conveniently.

However, the implementation matters. If the store doesn’t implement it properly, it could cause inconvenience to customers instead.

Making curbside pickup work requires a robust eCommerce system. Integrating curbside pickup is a relatively straightforward process for businesses already accustomed to receiving online orders.

If you want to implement curbside pickup, invest in a solid system to reap its benefits.

Here are ways a good curbside pickup technology could work for both you and the customer:

  • Instant notifications of new orders for in-store staff

  • Automatic system to notify customers about ready orders

  • Dedicated holding area with security measures to prevent liability issues

  • Automatic updates and records for successful pick-ups

  • Establishing policies for uncollected orders or packages

  • Notifications for the arrival of customers

  • Syncing with the store inventory tracking and warehouse management system

Determining the right method, policy, and technology for your curbside pickup system can enhance customer experience while streamlining your operations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Is It Called Curbside Pickup?

The term refers to both the location and process involved. Traditionally, customers can simply park or wait at the curb to pick up their purchases. However, we still use curbside pickup for the same process even if the designated location is different, like the parking lot.

Can You Pick Up HEB Curbside Early?

Sometimes. There are instances where your HEB order is ready for pickup, but the company just didn’t update the website. In these instances, you can get your curbside pickup earlier than expected.

Is There a Curbside Pickup App You Can Use?

Yes. Most companies offering curbside pickup, like Walmart, allow you to choose this option within their dedicated app.

Should I Tip for Curbside Pickup?

Yes. Although you drove, someone else still had to pack and deliver your baggage to your car door.

What Are the Rules for Curbside Pickup?

Since there’s little to no communication, the major rule for curbside pickup is to arrive within the timeframe and provide necessary verification.

Can You Do a Curbside Pickup Without a Car?

Yes. The term curbside pickup might imply you need a vehicle, but you can go to the store however you prefer. You only have to wait at the designated location for the staff to bring your items to you.

How Do I Know if Curbside Pickup Is Available??

Curbside pickup is most popular among major retailers, such as Home Depot and Walmart. However, it’s also available for these business types:

  • Grocery chains

  • Restaurants and cafes

  • Pharmacies

  • Pet stores

  • Other small businesses with an online ordering system

If you want to know if a certain store offers this service, don’t hesitate to call their customer service to ask.

What Is CVS Curbside Pickup Availability?

CVS stopped offering curbside pickup solutions, although in-store pickup is still available. When you make an online order, you’ll have to go into the store to pick it up.

The Bottom Line

When you learn how to use curbside pickup to streamline your process and improve the customer experience, you can set yourself apart in this competitive landscape.

If you’re considering offering this option, ensure you have the parking facilities to handle large-volume orders. Consider using advanced tools to collect sales data and automate some processes easily.

Combine this service with standard shipping and expedited shipping services to help your customers choose the most convenient option.

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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