What Is Curbside Pickup? How Does It Work?

Have you ever wondered what curbside pickup is? In this article, we’ll explore the buzz around this popular shopping option, how it works, and why it has become a go-to choice for many seeking a safe, contactless shopping experience.

Curbside Pickup has proven to be a game changer for retail in a world racing against time. This innovative shopping method has transformed how we experience convenience. Seamlessly blending online and in-store shopping, Curbside Pickup offers a frictionless solution for busy consumers seeking swift access to their favorite products.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the origins and mechanics of Curbside Pickup and how it has reshaped the retail industry. Uncover the countless advantages it brings in an era of contactless transactions and digital shopping. Explore its remarkable role during the COVID-19 pandemic as a lifeline for businesses and customers.

Dive into the challenges businesses face while adopting this service and the ingenious solutions they employ. Plus, we’ll shed light on the eco-conscious aspect, contributing to sustainability efforts.

Whether you’re a seasoned shopper or a business owner, ride along with us as we unravel the answer to what Curbside Pickup is and its revolutionizing convenience. Get to know how it has transformed Curbsides into veritable storefronts. Get ready for the shopping experience of tomorrow.

What is curbside pickup?

Curbside pickup is a convenient service that allows customers to order online through a website or a mobile app and drive to the store to collect it. Depending on the store’s setup, customers may need to park their vehicles and enter the store to wait in a designated queue for mobile or online orders. Alternatively, some companies offer curbside pickup through outdoor lockers, tables, or tents, where staff members verify the order before handing it over to the customer.

Various industries can reap the benefits of curbside pickup, including restaurants, pet stores, clothing retailers, pharmacies, and electronics/computer stores. Notably, even businesses that once struggled with limited infrastructure, such as retail outlets and grocery stores, have started implementing this convenient service. They can designate nearby parking spaces to facilitate the process as part of their curbside pickup initiatives.

How does curbside pickup work?

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wait for your order to be delivered or you prefer not to pay for shipping, curbside pickup is a fantastic alternative. It’s a convenient way to get your purchases without leaving your car. Let us explain how it works.

  1. Online ordering or phone call: Customers can place orders through the retailer’s website or by calling the store directly. You can browse the available products, select the items you want to purchase, and add them to your virtual shopping cart.
  2. Checkout process: During checkout, you’ll be given the option to choose curbside pickup. You must provide your contact information and payment details and choose the curbside pickup option.
  3. Notification: Once you’ve completed your payment online, the retailer gets notified about your order. They’ll then start packing it up right away.
  4. Preparation: Before you pick up your order, the retailer will confirm that all the items you want are in stock. Once everything is ready, they’ll send you a notification and instructions on what to do when you arrive at their store. For example, they might ask you to call or text them once you’re at the curb. The staff member may ask for the customer’s name or order number to verify the identity before handing over the items.
  5. Arrival at the store: When you get there, you have two options: wait in your car, and a staff member will come out to hand you your order, or if you prefer, you can go inside the store to collect it yourself. This can be particularly useful if they have additional items to buy or if you need assistance with your purchase.
  6. Notifying the store: To let the store staff know that they’ve arrived, the customer may call a designated phone number, send a text message, or use the retailer’s mobile app to check-in.
  7. Completion of transaction: Once you have your order, you’re ready! No waiting for delivery and it’s a win-win – you save on shipping costs, and the retailer can maintain social distancing measures.

Curbside pickup provides a safe and contactless shopping experience, especially during times when people may want to minimize physical interactions, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also offers an excellent alternative for those who value convenience and want to avoid shipping delays or costs.

Advantages of curbside pickup

This service has several advantages, making it a great option for customers and retailers.

  • Convenience: Curbside pickup is super convenient! You can shop for your favorite products from the comfort of your home, just like online shopping. But the best part is that you don’t have to wait for the delivery guy to arrive at your doorstep. Instead, you swing by the store whenever convenient and get your stuff immediately.
  • Time-saving: No more wasting time wandering around the store or standing in long checkout lines. With curbside pickup, you can simply place your order, drive to the store, and have everything handed to you without leaving your car. It’s like having a personal shopper who brings your items to you!
  • Avoid shipping costs: Say goodbye to those annoying shipping fees! When you choose curbside pickup, you can skip the delivery charges that sometimes accompany online shopping. That means you get your goodies without any extra cost.
  • Immediate results: There’s something satisfying about getting your hands on your purchases right away. Curbside pickup gives you a quick service – you don’t have to wait for days to receive your order just like for online delivery.
  • Social distancing and safety: A curbside pickup is a fantastic option, Especially when you want to stay safe and maintain some distance from others (like during a pandemic). You don’t have to worry about crowds or going inside the store; everything is brought to you outside, contactless.
  • Flexibility: Curbside pickup is flexible! You can pick up your orders on your schedule. Whether you’re rushing between errands or running late after work, the store will have your order ready whenever you arrive.
  • Additional services: Some stores even offer extra perks with curbside pickup. You can get special discounts, exclusive offers, or personalized assistance, improving your shopping experience.
  • Support local businesses: Using curbside pickup at local stores supports small businesses in your community. It’s a win-win – you get what you need quickly, and you’re helping local entrepreneurs thrive.

Curbside pickup is like having the best of both worlds – the ease of online shopping combined with the instant gratification of in-store purchases. It’s a convenient, safe, and cost-effective way to shop, making it a top choice for many savvy shoppers!

Curbside pickup vs. traditional in-store shopping

Picture this you’ve got two ways to get your hands on a long list of things you need urgently from the store. One way is the traditional in-store shopping, and the other is the trendy curbside pickup.

Traditional in-store shopping

Imagine yourself walking into your favorite store, surrounded by shelves filled with goodies. You get to touch and feel the products, try on clothes, and experience everything in person. It’s like an adventure where you can explore and find all the things you might not have seen online.

In-store shopping is great in a hurry – you pick your items, pay at the checkout counter, and voila! You walk out with your purchases, ready to enjoy them right away. Plus, you can ask the store staff for help and advice if you’re not sure about something,

Curbside pickup

On the other hand, curbside pickup is like a convenient twist on the shopping experience. Instead of going inside the store, you can order online or through an app. You pick the products you want, pay for them online, and choose a time that suits you to swing by the store.

You don’t have to worry about parking or going through the aisles when you arrive. Just park your car, and the store’s staff will bring your purchases to your car’s curbside, which is extremely convenient. It’s perfect for days when you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like wandering around the store.

Another cool thing about curbside pickup is that it’s often contactless, which means you don’t have to physically interact with anyone making it a safer option when we want to be extra cautious.

Traditional in-store shopping is fantastic for exploring, trying things on, and getting your stuff instantly. Curbside pickup, on the other hand, offers convenience and a speedy way to get your hands on what you need without leaving your car.

So, whether you’re up for an in-store shopping experience or prefer the convenience of curbside, both options have their perks, and you can choose what works best for you and your shopping style.

Curbside pickup vs. click and collect

When you look into “curbside pickup” and “click and collect,” you’ll see they’re similar. Both are convenient ways to make online purchases by picking them up at the store. In both cases, the store’s employees gather and prepare your order.

The key difference lies in the labor costs involved after the order is ready. With “click and collect,” the price is significantly reduced because customers enter the store to pick up their items. On the other hand, “curbside pickup” requires a delivery coordinator, where customers wait in a line outside the store, and the staff brings the orders to them. This additional coordination can lead to higher labor expenses than “click and collect.”

So, while both options offer a way to avoid shipping and receive your purchases conveniently, “click and collect” tends to be more cost-effective due to the reduced need for additional involvement.

The rise of curbside pickup

Curbside pickup has been soaring in popularity, and it’s no wonder why – let us break all the circumstances down for you that led to the rapid popularity of curbside pickup among the citizens of America.

It all started with the rise of online shopping. People loved the convenience of browsing through products from the comfort of their couches and having them delivered to their doorstep. But then a genius idea came along – why not combine the ease of online shopping with the quickness of getting things right away?

On April 21sr, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced the winding down of its large, automated pickup towers at over 1500 North American outlets. These towers were originally intended to boost  Walmart’s “buy online, pick up in-store”  (BOPIS) sales, but consumer preferences had shifted towards a different click-and-collect model: curbside pickup. A Walmart spokesperson said, “The customer told us they want the pick-up spot to be outside.”

Curbside pickup’s relevance in America

Curbside pickup is particularly well-suited to America’s retail environment; unlike BOPIS (which is more prevalent globally), curbside pickup allows customers with cars to avoid entering crowded stores altogether. This model becomes even more appealing in America’s vast suburban and rural areas, where car ownership is high, and driving is an integral part of life.

Rapid growth amid COVID-19

While curbside pickup was already gaining popularity before the COVID-19 pandemic, its adoption skyrocketed in 2020. As nonessential retailers sought ways to generate revenue during store closures, they expanded curbside pickup services beyond the grocery sector. Consumers found the convenience appealing, and many intended to continue using curbside pickup even after the pandemic ended.

Retailers embrace curbside pickup on customer demand

Retailers of all types seeing the great demand of customers for curbside pickup, started enhancing their curbside pickup capabilities. With customers showing a great interest in this service, it can be a crucial differentiator for retailers looking to meet customer demands and stay competitive in the e-commerce landscape.

As the retail industry continues to evolve, curbside pickup is expected to shape how customers shop significantly. It offers a blend of digital convenience and personalized service, providing a modern shopping solution that aligns well with the demands of our busy tech-savvy lifestyles.

Role of COVID-19 in the rise of curbside pickup

COVID-19 played a big role in the rise of curbside pickup. When the pandemic hit, people wanted safer ways to shop, so they loved getting their orders without going inside stores.

Many shops had to close their doors, so they quickly started offering curbside pickup to keep serving customers. With all the supply chain issues, curbside pickup became a reliable way for folks to get what they needed faster.

Online shopping also got super popular, and curbside pickup made it easy to get those online orders without waiting to get those orders by waiting for delivery. People liked it so much that even after the pandemic, they still prefer curbside pickup.

It’s also been a real lifesaver for local businesses, allowing them to stay competitive while keeping everyone safe.

Implementing curbside pickup for businesses

Administrating curbside pickup for businesses involves careful planning and considering technology, infrastructure, and customer service. Let’s break it down and see the various steps and processes involved in setting up a curbside pickup system for businesses.

Technology and infrastructure

  • Online ordering platform: A user-friendly and efficient online ordering platform is crucial for customers to place their orders. This platform should be accessible through both web and mobile devices.
  • Inventory management system: An accurate and real-time inventory management system helps keep track of available products and prevents overselling.
  • Communication tools: Effective communication tools, such as email or SMS notifications, are essential for informing customers about order status and pickup instructions.
  • Curbside pickup area: Businesses must designate a convenient and well-marked area near the store where customers can pick up their orders. This might include parking spots or curbside spaces.
  • Order preparing area: A designated area inside the store where staff can efficiently prepare orders for pickup is essential for smooth operations.


  • Staffing: Adequate staffing is crucial to managing the entire curbside pickup process, from order processing to customer assistance during pickup.
  • Safety measures: Implement safety measures, such as contactless payment options and protective gear for staff handling orders, to ensure a safe environment for employees and customers.
  • Customer identification: Establish a process to verify customer identities during pickup to avoid handing orders to the wrong person.

Staff training

  • Order fulfillment: Train staff on efficient processing and preparing orders for curbside pickup, ensuring accuracy and timely delivery.
  • Customer identification: Provide training on delivering excellent customer service during pickup, addressing any questions or concerns with a friendly and helpful approach.
  • Health and safety: Train employees on following proper healthy and safety protocols to maintain a safe environment during curbside pickup operations.

Customer service

  • Clear communication: Ensure all communication with customers regarding curbside pickup is clear and concise, including order confirmation, pickup instructions, and any changes to the order status.
  • Timeliness: Aim for quick and punctual order preparation, minimizing customer waiting times during pickup.
  • Problem resolution: Have a process in place to handle any customer complaints efficiently and to their satisfaction.

Implementing curbside pickup for businesses requires a well-coordinated effort across technology, infrastructure, staffing, and customer service. When executed effectively, curbside pickup can provide customers with a convenient and safe shopping experience while boosting business sales and customer loyalty.

Safety and security measures for safe curbside pickup

Safety and security are essential to curbside pickup to ensure a smooth and risk-free experience for customers and retailers. Here are some steps that can be implemented to ensure customer safety, prevent theft, and reduce the risk of fraud during curbside pickup.

  • Designated pickup area: Establish a well-defined and easily identifiable curbside pickup area near the store entrance. This area should be well-lit, clearly marked with signage, and monitored by surveillance cameras if possible.
  • Staff identification: Customers should be able to identify store staff handling curbside pickup. Employees should wear uniforms or identification badges to instill confidence in customers that their order is being handled by authorized personnel.
  • Contactless payment: Encourage contactless payment methods, such as mobile or online payments, before pickup. This reduces the need for cash transactions and minimizes physical contact between customers and staff.
  • Order verification: Before handling the order, staff should verify the customer’s identity by matching the name of the order with the identification provided (e.g., driver’s license) to prevent unauthorized pickups.
  • Limited personal information: During order confirmation, avoid mentioning sensitive information, such as full credit card details, aloud to maintain customer privacy.
  • Time-bound pickup: Set a specific timeframe for customers to pick up their orders. This reduces the likelihood of orders being misplaced or stolen if left unattended for an extended period.
  • Secure packaging: Ensure the orders are adequately packaged and sealed, minimizing the risk of tampering or damage during curbside pickup.
  • Surveillance and monitoring: Install security cameras in the curbside pickup area to deter theft and provide evidence in case of any security incidents.
  • Two-Step verification: Implement a two-step verification process, such as sending a unique pickup code via text or email, which the customer needs to provide upon arrival for order retrieval.
  • Customer communication: Keep customers informed through notifications or texts about the status of their order and when it’s ready for pickup to reduce wait times and potential frustration.
  • Training for staff: Educate staff about potential security risks and how to handle different situations. This includes verifying customer identities, handling disputes, and responding to security concerns.
  • Review and feedback: Regularly review curbside pickup processes and customer feedback to identify any areas of improvement and address any safety or security issues that may arise.

By implementing these safety and security measures, retailers can create a positive curbside pickup experience for customers while mitigating the risks associated with theft and fraud. Open communication with customers and a vigilant approach to security will help ensure the success of the curbside pickup service.

Challenges for curbside pickup

Many companies are introducing curbside pickup services, but some need to look into the essential technological capabilities required to ensure smooth operations and excellent customer experiences.

Inconsistent customer experience

One major issue is the need for more consistency in customer experiences. When curbside pickup is unavailable at all locations, it can confuse customers who assume the service is offered everywhere. This leads to disappointment during checkout when they realize it’s not an option for their location. To tackle this problem, companies must communicate where and when curbside pickup is available before customers place their orders.

Lack of resources

Limited resources also pose challenges. Many stores have limited parking spaces, making accommodating a high volume of curbside pickups during peak times difficult. Additionally, some smaller local stores lack the infrastructure and resources to successfully implement curbside pickup. Staff availability is another concern, as it’s crucial to have enough personnel to handle the orders and adjust the workforce based on demand fluctuations.

Challenges in staff management

The uncertainty of staffing needs can be seen during events like the COVID-19 pandemic, where sudden regulatory shifts forced stores to quickly adapt to curbside pickup. As restrictions eased, they faced the challenge of scaling up their staff without knowing how long the demand would remain stable. This flexibility in managing staff is essential to run curbside operations efficiently during pandemics, busy holiday seasons, or other high-demand periods.

No clear system

Another problem is not having a clear and regularized system in place. Assigning regular employees to load orders into customers’ cars can lead to inefficiencies and delivery delays. Not knowing when customers will arrive can result in curbside congestion, and it’s vital to have a clear system to manage curbside operations effectively.

High customer demands

Meeting high customer expectations is crucial. If customers encounter long wait times during pickup, it can be highly frustrating and may deter them from using the service again. A negative experience for even one customer can create congestion and a domino effect of bad experiences for others waiting in line.

Safety and security

Safety is another aspect that should not be overlooked. Proper precautions are necessary to ensure the safety of both customers and staff during curbside pickup. The rise of contactless delivery adds further complexity, as companies must establish guidelines for contactless operations and potentially invest in relevant technologies for proof of delivery.

While there are challenges in implementing curbside pickup, leveraging the right technology can address these issues and turn curbside into a highly efficient and profitable fulfillment model.

Curbside pickup and sustainability

Sustainability is all about making good choices for the planet and future generations. It’s about using resources wisely, producing less waste, and considering how our actions affect the environment, society, and the economy.

So, how do curbside pickup and sustainability connect? Well, curbside pickup can be a more sustainable way to get your items than traditional home delivery. Here’s how.

  • Reduced carbon emissions: Customers can often reduce the carbon emissions associated with last-mile delivery by opting for curbside pickup instead of home delivery. In traditional home delivery, delivery trucks must make multiple stops, which can lead to higher emissions compared to a more consolidated approach like curbside pickup. In simple words, less pollution from delivery trucks is better f or the environment.
  • Efficient resource use: Curbside pickup can encourage more efficient use of resources as retailers can group orders and optimize their delivery routes. This can help reduce unnecessary trips and overall energy consumption.
  • Less packaging waste: With curbside pickup, customers may be more likely to bring their reusable bags or containers to collect their orders. This can help reduce the reliance on single-use packaging, leading to less waste generation.
  • Supporting local businesses: Curbside pickup often supports local businesses, especially small retailers, which can positively impact the community. By choosing local options, customers can help support their neighborhood and reduce the environmental costs associated with long-distance transportation.
  • Changing habits: The rise of curbside pickup can also lead to a shift in consumer behavior. Customers may become more aware of their consumption patterns, leading to conscious choices about what they buy and how they obtain their goods. As when we

It’s important to remember that curbside pickup is just one part of the bigger picture for sustainability. Other factors are involved, like how the store operates and where they source their products. But overall, curbside pickup can be a step towards more sustainable shopping practices.

So, by choosing curbside pickup, you’re not only enjoying a convenient way to shop but also doing your part to take care of the environment and support your community. It’s a win-win for you and the planet!

Future trends in curbside pickup

The future of curbside pickup is all about taking convenience to new heights. With the integration of automation and personalized recommendation tailored just for you, exceptional customer service and curbside pickup is set to become a seamless and delightful shopping experience. Say goodbye to long wait times and hello to a more efficient and personalized way of shopping. Get ready to embrace tomorrow’s shopping journey with curbside pickup.

Automation and AI: making things faster and smoother

In the future, curbside pickup will become even more efficient and convenient with the help of automation and AI. Imagine this: robots or smart machines handling some tasks, like preparing your order or bringing it to your car. This means shorter wait times and few errors, making your shopping experience faster and smoother.

AI, which stands for Artificial Intelligence, will also play a role. It’s like having a super smart assistant! AI can analyze your preferences and habits to predict your next purchase. It can even suggest personalized recommendations, making your shopping trips more tailored to your needs and tastes.

Personalization: shopping that feels like it’s just for you

In the future curbside pickup will become more personalized to each customer. Picture this: the store knows what you like and dislike, your favorite products, and your preferred pickup time. This means you’ll receive special offers and deals based on your preferences, creating a shopping experience that feels like it’s designed just for you.

Contactless and biometric technology

As technology advances, curbside pickup will likely adopt more contactless options. Customers may be able to use their smartphones or other devices to confirm their identity and retrieve their orders, minimizing physical contact and improving convenience. Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, could also play a role in streamlining the pickup process, making it easier, faster, and more secure.

Integration with automatic vehicles

With the advancement of autonomous vehicle technology, we might see the integration of self-driving vehicles for curbside pickup. These vehicles could transport customers’ orders to the designated pickup spots, eliminating the need for staff to manually bring the items to the car.

These are just some of the future trends that have the potential to transform curbside pickup into an even more seamless, efficient, and enjoyable shopping experience, catering to the evolving preferences and needs of customers in the years to come.


Curbside pickup has emerged as a transformative solution, offering the perfect blend of online ease and immediate fulfillment. Its seamless process and minimal contact save time while prioritizing safety. As we move into the future, trends like automation and personalization promise to elevate the experience further.

This innovative approach caters to the fast-paced lifestyle of modern customers, providing a sense of control and connection with brands. From groceries to retail items, curbside pickup has become an essential feature in the retail landscape. By embracing this convenience, we can look forward to a shopping journey tailored to our preferences and needs, all while ensuring a delightful and hassle-free experience.