How to Add Curbside Pickup to Your Online Store (2020)


Consumers take a lot of things into consideration when making a new purchase.

Price, brand loyalty, and product quality are all important factors. However, one of the biggest factors in purchasing behavior? Convenience.

Consumers want the products they order in their hands as quickly—and cost effectively—as possible.

This chart from Statista shows the primary reasons for cart abandonment by digital shoppers worldwide as of January 2019:

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Note how many of these deal with convenience and delivery method. By providing more flexible or cost efficient delivery options, a business can satisfy more customers needs and eliminate several of the reasons for cart abandonment.

For ecommerce, delivery options include offering multiple speeds for shipping, free delivery, home delivery, BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) where consumers can pick up the product at a brick-and-mortar location or locker, and more recently curbside where they can pick the item up without coming inside.

Currently, curbside delivery is transforming from a popular perk to a public health necessity as many shoppers are trying to avoid as much physical contact as possible. Many brick-and-mortar stores may not be able to operate except for delivery and curbside options. In the age of social distancing, grocery delivery and grocery pickup services are seeing a big jump.

In this article, we’re doing a deep dive on curbside pickup and delivery, how it might be the right choice to add to your business model, and best practices for making it happen.

What is Curbside Pickup?

Curbside service isn’t a new concept.

Since the first restaurants with carhops opened in 1921—a Texas chain called The Pig Stand—people have enjoyed being able to receive delivery orders without leaving their vehicles. Carry out and drive-thru options soon followed.

Pig Stand Number 2Pig Stand Number 2

The Pig Stand. Image from Texas Monthly. 

However, the option has grown in popularity in recent years as customers increasingly want more options around BOPIS, curbside, and delivery, and businesses race to provide better omnichannel fulfillment to stay competitive.

Big chains including Kroger, Whole Foods, Target, and Walmart all have curbside pickup programs at some stores. Walmart currently leads the charge with plans to roll out the service to 3,100 store locations by the end of 2020. Items that can be purchased for drive-up retrieval vary depending on the store, with groceries being the most common items available for curbside.

Curbside Pickup Steps: Combining Online and Offline

Like BOPIS, curbside is a convenient option to add to your omnichannel strategy.

If you have both a brick-and-mortar store and an ecommerce store, this is a great way to integrate bricks and clicks. This will also prepare your business if your brick-and-mortar location is unable to allow shoppers inside. Even when both arms of your business are up and running full tilt, store pickup still provides some much desired convenience for many customers.

Here’s how it works:

  1. A customer completes an order online.
  2. The customer selects a curbside delivery time slot.
  3. The customer pays online by credit card or other payment method.
  4. Merchant receives the customer’s order.
  5. At the designated time, the customer drives up and parks.
  6. Merchant places the order in the customer’s car.
  7. All done!

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, but don’t already have ecommerce, you will need to set up your store for online ordering. Good news: we’ve got a guide that outlines the process to make it quick and easy.

Customers Want Curbside Pickup Options

Obviously, the appetite for curbside will vary based on your industry and what you sell. You know your customers best and what type of delivery they may be most interested in. If you aren’t sure, consider surveying them.

In the meantime, here are some common reasons your customers may be clamoring for curbside.

1. Get merchandise faster.

First came two-day shipping. Then Amazon’s one-day shipping became the new normal. Same-day and hourly delivery on certain items also arrived. Customers’ expectations have evolved with each update.

One survey found that 74% of customers said they were more likely to shop at an ecommerce store after receiving same-day delivery.

Curbside pickup and delivery allows shoppers to get items into their hands faster and lets them pick it up on their timeline.

2. Visual order confirmation.

While speed is important, so is getting what you want. The cost of speedy delivery sometimes comes at the expense of quality, leading to missing or damaged items. One survey found that 79% of respondents wouldn’t shop at a store again after receiving damaged goods. When customers receive pickup orders themselves, they have a chance to visually confirm that the merchandise is undamaged, the correct variant (size, color, etc), and that nothing is missing from their order before they even leave the store.

3. Reduces stress and friction.

For many, they may not have the time to wait for their package to be delivered, but getting out of the car to go into the store might also be difficult. People with disabilities, people with small children or pets, the less-mobile eldery—these groups and others could all benefit from an employee putting their items in their car without them having to get out of it. This can reduce the stress of their trip and provide an overall easier customer experience.

How Curbside Delivery Benefits Retailers

Offering a curbside delivery service to your online store doesn’t only benefit customers—it can also benefit your business.

1. Increased online sales.

We talked above about how people are appreciating not only faster shipping, but also more shipping and delivery options. By offering more ways for customers to shop with you and receive their merchandise you can improve your conversion rates and customer retention—both great for improving revenue.

2. Better inventory management.

BOPIS or curbside options can allow you to streamline and optimize your inventory management system. If you have a great POS system that can sync with your ecommerce platform, then you can fill orders from one inventory system and pull…


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