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What is curbside delivery?

Curbside delivery shows no signs of slowing down in popularity. We’ll break down the basics to help you set up your own curbside pickup system.

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Although the early days of the pandemic were hard for everyone, businesses found some truly creative ways to stay open and accommodate contactless shopping. 

Chief among these strategies was curbside delivery. During the pandemic, the number of curbside delivery orders rose 208% year-over-year. 

Make no mistake, it’s a practice that’s here to stay. A recent survey found that 33% of adults under 50 say they expect to keep using curbside pickup.

The consumers have spoken: Curbside pickup is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s a must-have. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have such a program in place yet or if you’re not happy with your current system. At SimpleTexting, we’ve seen hundreds of restaurants and retailers run successful curbside pickup programs, and I’ll break the whole process down for you below.


What is curbside delivery?

Curbside delivery is a way of getting orders out to your customers with little or no in-person contact — usually (you guessed it) at the curb or in your parking lot. Customers order online or over the phone, then drive to a designated parking space outside your store to pick it up.

How does curbside delivery work?

Here’s how curbside delivery generally works:

1. Your customer orders over the phone or through your website or app.

2. You prepare the order.

3. You let the customer know when their order is ready and give them any necessary details (e.g., your store hours, a phone number to call, or a button in your app to push when they arrive).

4. Your customer arrives to pick up their order, and a team member brings the order to their car and verifies their identity.

That’s the whole process. The best curbside delivery programs are fast, clear, and simple.

Who offers curbside pickup?

Since the pandemic, curbside pickup service options have become popular with all kinds of brick-and-mortar businesses. Restaurants, retailers, pharmacies, and more are moving to a curbside model.

I’ve personally used curbside pickup at my favorite steakhouse, my local Target, Rite Aid, Safeway, and the list goes on.

If you sell a product in a physical store or space and your customers usually walk in to get their order, curbside pickup is a good option for you.

What are the benefits of curbside pickup?

I highlighted earlier how popular curbside pickup options got during the pandemic, but why are they still so in demand? Well, there are a few reasons for that.

  • Think about your options: You could walk into the store or restaurant, wait around or walk around to get the things you need, stand in a checkout line, then leave.

    Or you could press a few buttons from the comfort of your couch, then drive to the location, park, and have someone hand you your items. Curbside pickup is just more convenient (especially if you do your shopping during peak hours and want to avoid crowds).
  • Although COVID isn’t a top concern for people these days, some people — like immunocompromised or elderly customers — still seek out contactless options.
  • Shopping ahead means customers can see whether the items they need are out of stock, which can cut down on a lot of frustration.
Post-pandemic shoppers

What are some requirements for offering curbside pickup and delivery? 

Remember when I said that the best curbside pickup programs are simple? That means the list of requirements you need to set yours up is simple, too.

First things first, you’ll need a way to help your customers place their orders, whether that’s an app, a process on your website, or just a well-manned phone system in your location. 

Next, you’ll need designated parking spaces for customers using your curbside pickup program. This is obviously easier if you have your own parking lot, but some restaurants and stores also have reserved street parking spots.

You’ll also want a specific area inside your facility where your team can store and organize curbside pickup orders when they’re ready to be picked up.

Make sure you also have a way for your customers to let you know when they’ve arrived and where they’re parked. This might be a button on your app or a number to text.

How to make curbside delivery more efficient

The first thing to consider when planning a curbside delivery program is how to make placing orders easy.

Many businesses make their curbside pickup marketing part of their website so customers can place orders online. Here’s an example from the Barn Bowl & Bistro:

An example of a curbside delivery program

When you click on the “Curbside Pickup Process” button, you can read through the steps and then place an online order. Other businesses like the beauty brand Nakeah use text-to-order.

A text-to-order curbside delivery advertisement from a business

Some companies like Levi’s even offer an over-the-phone ordering option for pickup in-store.

Next, you need to think through the process on the business side. Determine how you’re going to package products for pickup and notify customers. Bluegrass Hospitality Group lets customers know about their pickup time via SMS.

Instructions for curbside delivery

Whether you use your website or SMS to take orders, give your customers clear instructions. They need to know what to do when they arrive and how to verify their order. 

Your staff will also need a way to keep track of orders that have been picked up.

Make sure to mark your parking spaces with signs so that your customers know where to wait for their orders.

A drive-up curbside delivery sign marking a parking space

Finally, you need to decide how your delivery process will work. You can have employees place orders into the trunks of cars. You may also choose to hand orders safely off to customers.

Is curbside pickup and delivery the right approach for your company?

One of the best things about curbside pickup is that it’s incredibly versatile. It’s a strategy that restaurants, retail stores, florists, home improvement stores, and all kinds of other businesses have used successfully.

When taking a look at whether you should offer a curbside delivery service, consider a few key questions.

  • Do you have enough staff to handle pickup orders alongside regular foot traffic at your location?
  • Do you have an easy way for customers to place orders, and if not, are you willing to set one up?
  • Are there systems in place at your facility to track inventory with pickup orders taken into account?

The fact is, if your store has a phone system and enough parking spaces, you can run a curbside delivery program.

These questions will help you start out on the right foot with the best possible systems and processes to make your curbside delivery run smoothly.

Kick customer inconvenience to the curb

The pandemic forced us all to find new ways of conducting business. In trying some of these new things, business owners found better, easier, and faster tools to serve their people.

In the case of curbside pickup, the focus stays on the things your customers value most these days — time saved and more convenience.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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