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5 Ways Retailers Are Innovating Curbside Pickup

5 ways retailers are innovating curbside pickup

Consumers are used to convenience and retailers are meeting their demands

When buying online, pick up in-store emerged as the latest innovation in retail almost a decade ago, curbside pickup was a novelty. Now, these services are table stakes.

Customers have come to expect a variety of pickup options for online orders, especially since retailers accelerated their timelines for rolling out innovations like curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent report shows that 85 percent of consumers plan to maintain the shopping behaviors they adopted during the pandemic. Retailers with an eye to the future are not only perfecting the curbside pickup experience to continue meeting consumer demand — they’re adding new perks and capabilities to make the service even more convenient.

Here are five ways retailers are taking curbside pickup a step further:

Curbside returns

Beginning with select stores, Target’s Drive Up curbside pickup service lets shoppers add a Starbucks order and return products, all without leaving their car. Nordstrom also has rolled out free curbside returns to all stores, giving shoppers more options for the returns process.

Exclusive deals

Some retailers are encouraging customers to shop curbside with special discounts and promotions for items picked up at the curb. Petco offers online shoppers 10 percent off orders over $50 that are picked up curbside.

Location sharing

During the early days of curbside pickup, customers might have had to call into stores to let an associate know they had arrived and were ready for their order. Now, retailers are streamlining the process: Panera Bread and California-based El Pollo Loco have both deployed GPS-enabled curbside pickup services, which automatically notify store staff upon a customer’s arrival.

Eliminating fees

Given the explosion in the popularity of curbside pickup, retailers are constantly looking for ways to bring more products to the service in more stores across their fleet. Giant Food recently announced it is expanding curbside pickup and eliminating minimum order requirements and pickup fees.

Extended hours

Convenience is the name of the game for curbside pickup, and some retailers have experimented with adding extra store hours exclusively for the service — before store doors officially open to shoppers. Best Buy has extended its curbside pickup availability in some areas to one hour before regular store hours.

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