The disruption of the retail industry as a result of the novel coronavirus has created an urgency for business owners to quickly pivot how they operate, with customer safety in retail stores being a top priority.
Omnichannel solutions that were once seen as a “nice-to-have” have now become a necessity if retailers want to continue to sell to their shoppers. When choosing to offer curbside pickup, there are best practices that should be considered for the health and safety of your customers and employees. In this article, we’ll cover:
- Clearly outlining your curbside pickup flow
- Reducing wait time with expectation setting
- Creating clear two-way communication
- Restructuring curbside pickup staff responsibilities
- Continuing to maintain and enforce hygiene and sanitation
- Enacting safe social distancing measures for employees
As state and local officials navigate how to reopen their economies, the most prominent remedy for retailers has been to implement a curbside pickup software. Just this past month, orders placed online and picked up at stores by customers surged 208% between April 1 and April 20 when compared to the previous year.
Though curbside pickup solutions provide excellent opportunities for businesses to get back to work, stores must keep shopper and employee safety at the highest priority as social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions ebb and flow.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association and NRF recently released a three-phased blueprint for safe shopping, with the first phase revolving around allowing eCommerce, contactless curbside pickup & in-home delivery with proper sanitation and hygiene in mind, and it is a great resource for retailers and local officials alike.
If you’ve decided to offer curbside pickup, congratulations! You’re on your way to reinvigorating how your customers will shop from you. However, you must also consider how to execute this new plan safely before you make your first sale.
Curbside Pickup Safety Best Practices
Though the future of retail as a whole is unknown, there is no doubt that it has already evolved in two specific ways – how customers purchase products, and consumers’ level of comfort when it comes to frequenting locations for goods, store cleanliness, and human-to-human interaction. By setting a new foundation for your business that caters to these considerations, you will be able to more swiftly evolve with the ever-changing retail industry.
As you begin to reopen your business, follow these curbside pickup safety tips:
Clearly Outline Your Curbside Pickup Flow
Before your first customer arrives, you must clearly delineate where customers should and should not go. Depending on how you implement curbside pickup, are you reducing the number of occupants in your establishment? Have you increased your “staff only” space to accommodate social distancing? Add clear signage throughout your business, starting in your parking lot, to help guide customers to the right locations for this “new now.”
Additionally, you should also reserve and highlight an adequate amount of parking spaces near the entrance of your building for curbside pickup and delivery. If you need to create an “entrance” and “exit” flow through your parking lot to accommodate an increase in curbside pickup orders, ensure that is obvious as your guests arrive (or, as we’ll discuss below, let them know in your curbside pickup app).
Reduce Wait Time With Expectation Setting
Prompt communication is key when it comes to proper expectation setting and curbside pickup. As you launch your curbside pickup solution, consider ways in which you can communicate with your customers as their order is received, prepared, and ready for pick up.
By providing customers with a transparent and fluid communication process, this will help them better understand the absolute best time to visit your brick and mortar location. Rather than getting stuck waiting at your store with other curbside pickup customers, setting timely expectations upfront saves customers time and helps them maintain proper social distancing measures.
Create Clear Two-Way Communication
Communication is key. However, creating opportunities for clear two-way communication is what will take your curbside pickup to the next level. If your curbside solution is integrated with your mobile app, you have an opportunity to add personalization to your approach, and you must be prepared to allow clear communication between your employees and customers.
If you’ve run out of certain inventory, your employees need to be able to notify and assist your customers right away. Alternatively, your customers need a space to describe important details like their car make and model, so your employees can confidently drop off the customer’s order to the correct individual, rather than walking from car to car, increasing their exposure to multiple people.
Your app and SMS messages are also a great way to communicate your curbside pickup traffic flow, rules, and more, should you need.
Restructure Curbside Pickup Staff Responsibilities
Consider reevaluating your staff’s responsibilities. Depending on your industry, you may need to adjust how your employees work together during each shift to accommodate proper social distancing measures.
The NRF suggests limiting interaction between employees and outside visitors, such as truck drivers, and even customers, if possible. Consider ways in which you can limit your employees’ interactions and provide touchless, contactless experiences through curbside pickup.
Continue to Maintain and Enforce Hygiene and Sanitation
Regardless of when and how businesses will be operating at full occupancy, the desire for heightened sanitation practices will likely last well past these upcoming months. As restrictions are lifted, implementing new sanitation processes now will help your customers feel safer while ingraining the importance of these measures in your staff’s day-to-day.
This includes routinely sanitizing high-touch areas (think carts, baskets, POS systems, and more), regularly washing hands, wearing masks, using gloves, maintaining checkout barriers between cashiers and customers, and more. Consider budgeting for the proper tools to provide your staff with what they need to ensure areas are clean.
Enact Safe Social Distancing Measures for Employees
Just as you’ll need to provide your employees with the proper tools to enforce heightened hygiene and sanitation, you’ll also need to create space for them to maintain their own safety.
Continue to support social distancing by creating markers for six feet of distance wherever practical like break rooms and common areas. If you are fortunate enough to be hiring right now, consider ways in which you can train new employees virtually, rather than filling a classroom with new hires.
How to Set Up Curbside Pickup Software for Your Business
As reopening orders vary from state to state, it can be confusing to understand how to keep your business moving forward. With each passing day, we see new states begin to allow contactless options like curbside pickup for non-essential businesses, and it is a saving grace for many retailers. However, some may be wondering where to start.
We offer a versatile omnichannel BOPAC (buy online, pick up curbside) software for retail small and medium-sized businesses, regardless of technologies or inventory structures. By implementing this curbside pickup solution for your business, you’re able to focus more on your customers, employees, and getting back to what you love most – running your business.
To learn more about how you can implement curbside pickup for your business in just a few hours, learn more and get in touch with us today.