Curbside Pickup: Navigating the #NewNormal

Curbside Pickup, Click & Collect: Navigating the #NewNormal

We’re at a crossroads with order fulfillment. While customer demand for ecommerce buying, digital grocery and off-premise dining has been growing rapidly for some time, COVID-19 accelerated this shift. Ecommerce in the U.S. Ecommerce in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last few months, and Europe saw a 92% eCommerce growth. With limited delivery slots available, alternative fulfillment methods like curbside pickup and drive thrus are surging. As a result, curbside pickup operations are facing overwhelming demand, and those that do not offer pickup options are struggling to meet eCommerce demand through delivery alone.

In this post, we will look at the main challenges around curbside delivery and click and collect operations, and how these issues can be addressed, increasing eCommerce fulfillment capacity and improving customer experience and business profitability.

The Challenges of Curbside

In the spectrum of fulfillment options, curbside pickup – as well as click and collect, and other similar fulfillment models – are the happy medium. They allow customers the convenience of purchasing online, while maintaining the retail interaction they are familiar with, and without the additional cost and complexity of adding delivery capacity.

However, these pickup options are not without their own challenges, in particular:

Limited resources – Pickup is typically limited to a handful of curbside spots. What do you do when customer demand requires additional pickup spots? You may find yourself limited by the number of available parking spaces.

Staff availability is another challenge. How do grocers and retailers manage staff so that they have sufficient coverage for staging and loading orders into customers’ cars to meet demand, but can scale back as demands shift – often on a daily basis?

In addition to growing eCommerce demand from national brands, consumers are also shopping locally more often at smaller grocery chains. These local chains often lack the infrastructure and resources to run curbside delivery.

Curbside Challenges in Grocery

In addition to growing eCommerce demand from national brands, consumers are also shopping locally more often at smaller grocery chains. These local chains often lack the infrastructure and resources to run curbside delivery.

Limited Visibility – Pulling existing employees away from their regular duties to act as loaders can cause a tremendous amount of disruption and inefficiency. If they get ready to load before the customer arrives, they waste their time and clog up the operational delivery areas. Get ready too late, and they keep customers waiting and waste valuable, limited parking spaces. This also puts a strain on staff who are scrambling to fulfill both delivery and pickup orders.

High Customer Expectations – When customers have high expectations, one bad or faulty launch of curbside pickup is more than you can afford. Consumers accept that during a crisis there will be delays in fulfillment speed – but waiting in line for 30 minutes to get your order loaded will frustrate even the most loyal of customers.

Restaurant off-premise challenges: high expectations, low visibility

Restaurants have a head-start in off-premise fulfillment, having offered some form of click and collect or ‘order ahead’ pickup for years. However, lack of visibility into the customer’s location – knowing exactly when the customer plans on arriving, when they arrive, or where they are in the parking lot – causes restaurant employees to waste valuable time fulfilling these orders. And even one bad experience will send a customer to competitors with shorter wait times or more streamlined curbside operations.

The same applies for on-demand drive thru orders, where congestion can cause customers to turn around and drive to a less crowded drive thru.

Food quality is another major concern. Without knowing exactly when the customer plans on arriving, the food may sit out too long, or – perhaps worse – not be ready on time, forcing the customer to wait and take up curbside space in the parking lot. Restaurants need a way to coordinate customer arrival with food preparation.

These are just a few of the challenges surrounding curbside pickup. Technology can not only address these challenges but do so effectively, turning curbside pickup into both a profitable fulfillment model.

7 Steps to Seamless Curbside Fulfillment

  • 1. Provide reliable curbside pickup options

  • 2. Track customer progress

  • 3. Sync picking/prepping, staging, and loading with customer arrival

  • 4. Automatically allocate curbside loading spots for the expected number of customers

  • 5. Direct customers to the optimal curbside pickup bay or parking spot

  • 6. Streamline the curbside handoff process

  • 7. Maintain full chain of custody

Curbside pickup involves many players, with different roles, all of which must be seamlessly coordinated from one centralized platform. When done right, curbside pickup can provide the fastest time to market for grocers looking to merge online buying with convenient fulfillment methods.

We’ve helped some of the world’s largest restaurants, grocers and retailers improve their efficiency, capacity and customer experience by optimizing every element of their curbside fulfillment, from the digital ordering, and all the way through pickup.

Bringg’s Curbside Pickup and Click & Collect Technology

Our pickup technology stack can be broken down into several steps:
1. At checkout, provide the customer with reliable curbside pickup options, based on your actual capacity.

2. Track customer progress as they approach your retail location. By having visibility into when customers are expected to arrive, you can coordinate timing to fit the available parking spaces and staff.
3. Sync picking/prepping, staging, and loading with customer arrival, to ensure efficient, just-in-time order preparation and handoff.
4. Allocate curbside pickup spots to match the expected number of pickups at any given time. New loading spots can be added with something as simple as a sign, and a tap in the curbside app. This reduces potential congestion in the pickup area.
5. Direct customers to the optimal curbside pickup bay, in real-time.
6. Streamline the curbside handoff process with automated processes such as customer check-in, and by providing staff and customers with applications that help them easily identify the relevant order.

Store App

7. Maintain full chain of custody to understand and improve performance​

See: Customer Tracking – The Technology Behind Bringg’s Curbside Pickup

Each of these steps are essential to scalable, efficient curbside pickup operations that are as efficient for your business as they are convenient for your customers.

Bringg’s end-to-end delivery and fulfillment technology solutions can be deployed at scale in just a few days.

To learn more about Bringg’s capabilities for Click & Collect and Curbside Pickup, click here.

Lior Sion

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