Curbside Pickup — The New Customer Necessity

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October 13, 2020
Lauren Goldenberg
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Who remembers the scene in Love, Actually where Rowan Atkinson hilariously over-the-top gift wraps a necklace Alan Rickman plans to purchase? Mr. Bean assures the hapless Rickman that he’ll have the gift ready for him in the “flashiest of flashes” — once he adds the requisite bag, ribbon, boxes, flower buds, lavender, cinnamon sticks, and sprigs of holly. The customer (Rickman) eventually leaves, baffled by the encounter.

Ah, the real-world shopping experience. But alas, the gift-buying experience for shoppers this year looks to be markedly different, and curbside pickup — like its safety-focused cousin contactless delivery — is an unavoidable part of a retailer's new reality.

Curbside Pickup Will Be With Us Long After Coronavirus

Curbside pickup isn’t new to 2020. It’s a trend that’s been picking up steam for years. It even has its own acronym: BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store)... although some customers prefer to call in advance to pick up their orders (this may work easier in restaurants, small boutiques, or SMBs).

Certainly, the trend’s popularity catapulted to new heights in 2020 as lockdowns and safety measures became our global focus. According to an April consumer flash poll by the National Retail Federation (NRF), over 50% of customers have used BOPIS as a result of COVID alone — and that number has only increased with the realization that we aren't going to return to our standard ways anytime soon.

In that same report, over 75% of consumers said they were interested in curbside pickup options (again, a number which has almost certainly gone up) as both businesses and their clients became accustomed to the new rules and our needs and priorities have shifted.


of consumers said they were interested in curbside pickup options.

The Need for Speed, Safety and Budgetary Considerations

Like contactless delivery, curbside pickup guarantees an overall safer customer experience than our traditional shopping, dining, or food takeout routines.

But curbside pickup is a faster and likely less costly option than delivery — for you and your patrons. Customers can swing by your business and claim their purchases at their own schedule. 

The customer will also save extra moolah as they will not be presented with shipping fees, delivery fees, tips, minimal order amounts, or potential membership fees (a la Amazon’s Prime). And you too will avoid pricey delivery surcharges as well as being more environmentally friendly — forget those heaps of cardboard boxes.

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While it’s an overall less convenient option than contactless delivery (since folks still have to pick the item up) — it’s still a more convenient (and faster) method than walking into a store or restaurant. Another advantage is that since customers are going to your business, curbside pickup is still a somewhat interactive means of transferring goods (even if it’s touchless and socially distant) — which increases your ability to encourage subscriber opt-ins.



10 Tips to Boost SMS Subscriber Opt-Ins — and Drive Sales

If you’re new to curbside pickup, the initial transition may not be flawless. That’s okay; customers are just grateful for the new, safety-forward options.

You can even test out the process before unveiling to your customers, with confidants running a ‘mock pickup’ run-through. Send alerts and notifications with text messaging and keep the process running smoothly.


But First, Promote Curbside Pickup with SMS

  • Create signage in the pickup location with important info — including Keywords to make opting in to your SMS text subscriber list a breeze.
  • Promote the ease of the service to older customers or those who may be less technologically inclined to order online for contactless delivery options. Include Keywords on receipts, online site, direct mail, TV spots, and more.


Notify Customers via Text Messaging

  • Text subscribers and team members updated info on COVID procedures.
  • Eliminate the stressors of long waits and confusion (folks are overstressed enough as it is) — and text when items are ready, with easy-to-follow pickup instructions. Customers and staff will appreciate it.
  • Customers looking for safer curbside pickup options likely wish to keep their distance. Simplify a safe, no-touch payment process by texting secure links to facilitate touchless payments, without the hassle of reading a credit card over the phone or exchanging dollar bills.
  • Do any of your customers rely on SNAP payments (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)? Grocers like Walmart and Amazon are beginning to allow online SNAP purchases, but curbside pickup is often the more reliable and immediate method to pick up items (as online SNAP payments are not available everywhere).


Follow-Up & Continue to Engage by Texting Customers

  • Send VIP customers trackable promos or coupons as a thank you for visiting. This should add to repeat business.
  • Text in advance for special offers and updates on what’s new. Since curbside pickup is often done via drive-through, shoppers aren’t physically coming to your store — so they may not notice all the promotional sales, new menu items, or new inventory. 
  • Engage with customers and staff via Text-to-Vote polls to determine what you can do to create a better experience for all.
  • Text reminders to customers to give reviews on company site or Yelp.
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