How to improve curbside pickup with SMS messaging

Let's look at how SMS can create a better curbside pickup experience for you and your customers.
Phone with floating message icons to represent healthcare SMS

Whether your state still has stay-at-home orders in place or you’ve already started reopening, all retailers should be considering their plan for local or curbside pick-up. While health experts work tirelessly on testing and a vaccine, it seems likely that returning to the way things used to be won’t happen for a very long time. 

The shopping experience needs to adapt and evolve to protect consumers and employees. While some retailers already offered in-store pickup, heightened health concerns will likely cause many consumers to question their need to go into stores. 

According to the CDC, we can all help prevent the spread of contagious diseases like COVID-19 in our communities by:

  • Minimizing the chance of exposure (for our customers and employees)
  • Promote the use of everyday preventive actions
  • Protect high-risk individuals

Setting up a streamlined local or curbside pick-up system for your business not only helps reduce shipping and packaging costs, it demonstrates to your customers and your employees that you value their concerns and safety. The companies that show extra care in the shopping experience right now will not only win more business in the short-term, they can foster new loyalty that can bring longer-term benefits. 

Let’s take a look at how to set up a streamlined local or curbside pick-up process with SMS. 

Setting up a contactless curbside pickup with SMS

To truly minimize the chance of exposure for customers, we must first eliminate time spent in the store. That makes online ordering central to a contactless experience. By incorporating SMS (aka text messaging) into your e-commerce or POS system, you can fairly easily take that next step towards curbside pick-up. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Online Order Placed: Orders are placed online and customers are asked for their mobile telephone number.
  2. Order Confirmation: An email and text message confirming the order are sent to the customer and request they text in when they arrive at the store. 
  3. Store Associate Notification: The store is notified of the order and staff are notified it is for curbside pickup.
  4. Order Fulfillment: Staff fulfill the order and place it in a designated location and trigger a notification via SMS to the customer that their order is ready for pickup. 
  5. Customer Arrival: When the customer arrives, signage directs them to the designated curbside pickup location. 
  6. Customer Notification: Once parked, the customer replies to the previous text with their parking location information and possibly other identifying information such as vehicle make, model, and color to let staff know of their arrival. 
  7. Store Associate Notification: That text triggers a notification to staff who can then match the order information to the provided identification information. 
  8. Delivery: Staff then take order to the customer’s vehicle without any need for the customer to enter the store, or even exit their vehicle. 
  9. Delivery Confirmation & Rewards: Once delivered, staff update the ecommerce or POS system that order was delivered triggering a final confirmation to the customers along with any rewards or loyalty information. 

Why SMS is the secret sauce to the ultimate curbside pickup experience

While you could create a similar shopping experience with phone calls, email, or a mobile app, there are distinct advantages to using SMS. 

Studies show that 95% of text messages will be read within 3 minutes of being sent, and on average will receive a response in just 90 seconds. [source]

Calls from unknown numbers are often ignored. Emails can get caught in SPAM filters, and let’s be honest, everyone’s email inbox is a mess. Mobile apps present the next best communication option to SMS, but they limit you to those with phones that can download your app (which not everyone wants to do) and force users to use an application versus a communication pre-built into their phone’s operating system. 

Using SMS lets you offer curbside pick-up to a larger percentage of consumers and increases the speed of communication.

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