Thanks to online sales, many businesses who are unable to open their doors to consumers during the coronavirus pandemic are able to continue serving their customers. But restaurants and stores are still playing a part in fulfilling customer orders directly, without delivery.
What is Curbside pickup?
What started as an improvised solution to avoiding unnecessary interpersonal contact has become a more formal practice by some of the most prominent businesses worldwide. Curbside store pickup, where store employees deliver items to customers in front of the store or directly to their vehicles, is becoming increasingly common. Being able to provide contactless curbside pickup as an option customers can select when ordering strengthens the accessibility of a store in this period as well as in the future.
How is the Curbside Pickup process implemented in restaurants?
Many restaurants have been able to implement their own form of curbside pickup using their food ordering apps. Customers can make their meal order and pay digitally so the restaurant staff does not need to resolve their payment. Store locations with parking space can designate certain spots for pickup, so customers and servers know where to go. In order to quickly identify each customer, establishments such as Panera request customers enter the make, model, and color of their vehicle. There are also plans for geofencing technology so customers’ mobile devices transmit their specific location, reducing delays in locating the right customer. When they arrive in their vehicles, customers can instantly notify the restaurant through the app that they are ready for pick-up. Once alerted, restaurant staff wearing personal protective equipment can deliver the food to the vehicle and the customer can depart.
Why Do Customers Choose Curbside Pickup during the Pandemic?
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, curbside pickup was the only alternative to delivery, since restaurants and other types of stores were unable to open their doors to customers. But even stores that are open for business have seen the need for it. Grocery shoppers want to avoid crowded stores and are disappointed by shortages of products, giving them reasons to avoid trips to the supermarket. Ordering online and getting curbside pickup offers more convenience.
While home delivery is an alternative to travelling to the store, customers may not want to pay shipping for everyday products they could get from a nearby store. In the case of restaurants, customers who pick up their orders themselves can guarantee their food gets home hot and fresh. In addition, delays in shipping are becoming more common. Retail stores and online marketplaces can take days to ship and deliver at unpredictable times, but customers have more control over when they receive their orders with curbside pickup.
How to Improve Curbside Pickups at Restaurants
Many chain and independent restaurants are rushing to find the best way to provide curbside pickup to their customers. The most important step restaurants can take is to ensure rapid coordination between their food ordering app and their employees. Employees need to be able to serve customers as they come to keep a limited amount of spaces available for incoming customers. The app can be used to inform customers of the expected time when it will be ready so they will not arrive too early or late.
Customer demand may exceed capacity when it comes to parking spaces that can be designated for curbside pickup, so customers should be given pickup slots based on the time their order will be ready. In addition, measures to quickly identify customers are useful, even low-tech solutions. Special instruction forms in the app can be used by customers to give descriptions of their vehicles. Numbering each parking space or sections of the front curb of the storefront can provide clear identifiers that customers can use when they notify the restaurant that they are ready for pickup.
Even as restrictions on indoor dining are reduced, many regions are requiring a lower capacity and some diners may prefer to avoid public places. Enabling curbside pickup as an option can keep stores functioning while reducing crowding within stores, and a combination of technology and good service can bring this essential feature to any restaurant.