Making Curbside Pickup More Accessible & Convenient

  • Wait in line to enter a store,
  • Use the store’s app or website to place an order for shipping, or curbside pickup, and/or
  • Use delivery services.
Meme with Forrest Gump, “And Just Like That…Every Restaurant in Town had Curbside Pickup”

Curbside Pickups Everywhere

Easy enough, right? Well, here’s the challenge: I’d arrive at the craft store and there would be instructions to call for curbside delivery. It’s an inconvenience because the person couldn’t always understand me when I’m trying to state my long order number, nor can I always understand the questions they are asking me. It’s a mess. I’ve avoided that craft store since and half-finished art projects are piling up in the corner.

Target, FTW

Contrast this experience with Target, where the app experience is clearly thought-through:

  1. You receive a e-mail or app notification that your order is ready for pickup
  2. You open the app to say, “I’m on my way.”
  3. The App will ask you for the style / color of the car (e.g., SUV, White.)
  4. Upon arrival, pull up to the designated parking spot and select “I’m here.”
Man in a SUV looks on as a Target Associate approaches with a cart full of items
  • babies or small children;
  • mobility or physical disabilities;
  • hearing loss; or;
  • vocal or speech disabilities.

What we can learn from Small Businesses

However, not every business had the head-start (or scale) Target has, most were busy pivoting to identify new ways to keep business afloat, such as doing curbside pickup as a first step. I think we can really learn from a few of the small businesses and how they are handling the customer service experience. In my community in Alexandria, VA I’ve been amazed with how many have offered contact and communication through social media, text messaging, e-mail, and phone calls. They not only graciously take my order, but also talk about the different ways of which I could pick up the items:

  • Send a text message when I arrive and someone brings out my order (my favorite deli);
  • Stand at the door and wave, and someone will bring out the item (my dog food shop);
  • Leave coffee cup with my name on it on a table just inside the entry (with doors open);
  • A paper bag with my name placed in the back of the building for after-hours pickup (my hardware store);
A Bakery Storefront by a bridge underpass, with a large poster display saying “CURBSIDE.”

Happy Customers are Loyal Customers

Next time you find yourself saying, “Let’s just make an app! That’ll solve all the problems!” Think about the entire experience from ordering online to picking it up in real life (IRL). What’s the most valuable thing your business can do? And work backwards from that value proposition.



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Catharine McNally

Catharine McNally

Accessibility Lead at Phase2 Technology. Cochlear implant recipient. Focused on mainstream digital experiences for all. @cmcnally