Creating an Implementing curbside pickup for your dispensary

As the world begins its seventh month of altered pandemic life courtesy of COVID-19, a movement among American small businesses has emerged where customer and employee safety becomes priority number 1.  

Embracing this responsible and progressive movement not only resonates well with customers, but proactively draws in your audience, creating unparalleled customer service and solidifying brand loyalty like never before.

Like so many Americans, I refuse to accept defeat from the virus and appreciate the thoughtful and profound ways that businesses have been able to increase their quality of service.  Smart and safe venues to conduct business illuminate a dual purpose: protecting the public and increasing quality of service, both attracting loyal, life-long customers. 

A successful curbside pickup option must incorporate the following three major components:

  1. The business has a safe and secure process in which to take curbside orders
  2. The customer is given a safe and secure way in which to place and pay for orders.
  3. The business has a streamlined and successful fulfillment system in place

Sounds good, but how do you implement the three  specific components?  If you have a business website then you’re halfway  to your goal of implementing a curbside option.  

Specifically, your business should introduce a curbside option for your customers on your website.  In addition to enabling curbside service will your business offer just an online ordering process or can your customers also call in orders?  

As an experienced policy maker, I recommend implementing the entire process as an online option, only.  Having all curbside processed through an online platform helps minimize human error while securing the customer’s payment method and financial data. Furthermore it allows for an increase in volume without and increase in labor, ideal for reduced staffing regulations  and social distancing protocols.

The only factor that would promote a phone order system would be if your audience was uncomfortable or unable to place orders using a smartphone or laptop.  If your audience is retired school teachers in their late 80s or an amish population, a phone order system might be critical, but in most cases a cool phone app or website is the perfect solution.

Because the customer base is limited to a select group of individuals living within a certain physical area, most dispensaries do not have an online retail store incorporated on the business site.  In the event that your business offers online purchases, most ecommerce platforms can add a store pickup option for their local customers under the shipping settings of your online store. Make sure to have the local sales tax incorporated within the pickup option payment transactions.

Furthermore the curbside option should clearly educate customers on your businesses pickup protocols.  The instructions should include parking procedures, “i’m here for pickup” communication from customer to store, and information on how to safely acquire the product.  Most quality curbside pickup retailers instruct the customer to park and pop the trunk for safe receipt of product.  

I recommend providing clear instructions on your website as well as a clear physical set of instructions in your parking lot.  The easier and smoother the process is for your customer, the better the procedure is for the business.

The final component for consideration is training employees to perform their curbside responsibilities in a professional and safe fashion.  Obviously disposable gloves and face masks are mandatory for employees.  Business should have an alert system in place to notify employees of customer arrival.  All employees should verify the order verbally with customer, making sure to do so at a safe distance.  Finally after placing product in the customer’s trunk, employees should double check to make sure the trunk latched properly for safe travel home.

Merging best practices with customer satisfaction and safety

Rather than create a set of best practices during your creation stage, i recommend waiting until the implementation of your curbside option so that your best practices will reflect the customer satisfaction without omitting important issues that arise once the option has rolled out.  Generally I would recommend the following best practices.

  1. Create an order taking process that is 100% online.  Not only is this smart because it reduces human error, but it also removes labor and time from the equation for your workforce, allowing your employees to focus on fulfillment.
  2. Begin to offer free wifi that is accessible from all corners of your parking lot. Ensuring the customer has an effective and convenient way to communicate with your business reduces the need for customers to engage employees, destroying the whole purpose of curbside pickup.
  3. Customers should not call your business upon arrival, rather a text or notification button provided to customer by business should be used.
  4. Do not leave customers unsure confused or feeling neglected once they arrive at your parking lot.  
  5. Provide clear easy to follow instructions for customer on your website and at the physical location.
  6. Providing a limited amount of pick ups in a specified time frame to prevent chaos and confusion upon arrival.
  7. Implement an easy to use standardized procedure for employees working fulfillment. 
  8. Assign a specific manager or trusted employee to be the key personnel available to handle any issues that may arise during the day.
  9. Support your employees in ways that exceed their expectations, while maintaining happy, loyal, and grateful customers.    

The onset of this deadly virus has created massive challenges for government, businesses, and individuals alike.  Where so many businesses cannot stay afloat due to the overwhelming flood of lockdowns, reduced volume, and stringent guidelines for operating safely, it is refreshing and inspiring to see the ability of certain businesses to morph and transform almost organically to stay viable.  

If you are sick, or you are overwhelmed with the devastation this virus has created it is going to be okay.  If you are unable to create and implement smart policies that create essential lifelines necessary for your business’ success for whatever reason, alfalfa grass is here for you.  We will support your business and provide you with whatever solutions are available to keep your business afloat. All you have to do is reach out.  We are only a click away.

2020 has certainly been a year of unprecedented challenges for everyone. I for one find myself beaming with pride and inspiration at the utter genius behind some of America’s most successful businesses.  Having the ability to turn the bleak bright, to transform failure into success, to shift surviving into thriving are qualities of great leaders, refusing to accept defeat and reaching for victory. 

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