Rising to the Challenge: How Grocers Can Meet Growing Curbside Pickup Demand
September 15, 2023
Grocery Delivery and Curbside Pickup Trends
Online grocery shopping has become so much more than just a pandemic-fueled convenience. Curbside and delivery grocery orders remain at record levels of engagement, with curbside appearing to take the lead as of late. In 2022, 52% of all digital grocery sales were fulfilled via pickup as opposed to delivery. And over the next five years, grocery e-commerce is expected to continue to grow by 12%. In order to keep pace with these new marketplace realities, retailers must find new ways to innovate in order to stay profitable.
4 Steps to Meet and Exceed Growing Curbside Pickup Demand
Following are some strategies to consider as you evolve your grocery business to strengthen your curbside pickup capabilities:
1. Make Sure You Have an Efficient Set Up
So that your business runs as smoothly as possible, it’s critical to ensure that your store can easily support the needs of curbside orders. That means dedicating space to storing orders waiting to be picked up, and outfitting the area with appropriate refrigeration and coolers. Many retailers convert existing grocery space into a kind of micro fulfillment center – a small-scale, automated distribution area in which to fulfill online orders. In order to maximize space and efficiency, some grocery retailers are incorporating inventive cold-storage technology like compressor-free refrigerators or actively cooled totes.
2. Build Processes for Curbside Pickup and Delivery
Once you have an efficient, easy-to-use and properly outfitted space set up for picking orders as they come in, you must make sure you have the right processes in place for inventory management, order picking, and storing or delivering orders. For most grocery stores, the handoff may look something like this:
- An online shopper makes a purchase and marks it as a curbside pickup order
- The online order reaches a store’s POS
- The inventory’s location is identified
- Inventory is picked or prepared for staging
- Inventory is staged in a dedicated pickup area where items can be kept safe and easily found
- Store staff identifies the correct order (ideally when the customer has almost arrived)
- Staff takes it from staging and transfers the order to the customer
3. Innovate to Stay Relevant (and Competitive)
For many grocery retailers, transitioning to e-commerce as a major part of their business is like traveling to unknown territory. The old ways of doing business are simply no longer viable – and it becomes imperative that grocers keep innovating in order to keep pace in this very competitive marketplace. Luckily, e-commerce and cooling technology has evolved alongside the industry in ways that make curbside and delivery processes easier, safer and more cost-effective. Advancements such as: energy-efficient, separate cold spec buildings, robotics and automated systems designed to work in chilled conditions, cooling options using natural refrigerants, and actively cooled storage products using environmentally friendly technology are just a few of the new cooling options that grocers now have at their disposal.
5 Quick Wins for Grocers that Adopt Cold-Storage Technology
By incorporating innovative cold-storage technology into their operations, grocers can expect these benefits:
- Cost Savings
- Food Safety + Integrity
- Better Customer Experience
4. Never Stop Evolving
In order to be successful in the world of grocery e-commerce, you must embrace the attitude that you can never stop evolving. But as you strategize to update and refine your processes to meet this new reality, emerging technologies will continue to be developed to help to solve pain points like labor inefficiency and inventory management.
Ready to Rise to the Challenge?
It’s an exciting time to be in an industry that’s changing before your eyes to be more customer-friendly, efficient and cost-effective. If you put the time and resources into adapting your online grocery fulfillment processes and updating your facilities with intelligent cold storage technology, you’ll be well-positioned to not only meet the unique and stringent demands of curbside pickup – but you’ll succeed in modernizing your business to be more profitable and stable in the future.
Related Read: 5 Notable Tech Companies from Groceryshop