Capitalizing on Curbside Pickup: FAQs for PCA Retailers

Across the country, retail tobacconists are grappling with uncertainty. State and local governments have imposed restrictions on movement, impeding commerce and forcing us to re-evaluate how we engage with our customers and continue to produce sales. Because of this, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) has crafted the following “how-to” guide for our members to implement curbside sales and continue to bring a stream of revenue into your business.  Note: This guidance is not a replacement or exemption from your state and local orders. Businesses should review state and local health orders before implementing. 

What is curbside pickup?

Curbside pickup is a great new revenue stream for tobacconists who want to capitalize on the off-premise and social distancing requirements. Curbside pickup allows you to continue engaging your customer base while providing an exceptional level of service and maintaining sales. Customers pick up their purchases via an employee meeting them outside without even leaving their vehicle. 

How should I utilize curbside pickup?

There are many ways premium tobacconists could implement this program. Every retailer should review their state and local guidelines pertaining to essential and non-essential services before undergoing curbside pickup.  Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can fit curbside pickup into your business model.

  1. Do you have an online presence?
    • With many of your customers stuck at home, it is imperative you adapt your communication strategy for them. You have a captive audience, so your online engagement with them will make up for the lost face-to-face sales. This is where your customer lists come in handy. 
    • Many retailers do not have the means to undergo a full website rejuvenation, not to mention such a process can be quite time-consuming and would limit your ability to conduct curbside in a timely manner. Utilizing social media platforms to inform your customers of curbside pickup, showcasing products, sales, and samplers is a great alternative.
  2. Taking and fulfilling orders 
    • Orders can be taken via email, phone, and social media. When taking an order, use the following steps to ensure the safety of your customer and staff.
      1. Encourage payments be made by phone or online service to avoid unnecessary interaction. If a payment must be made in person, the staff person working the curbside pickup should always approach the car with the correct order, ample change, and a credit card reader, thus allowing the entire transaction to be completed in a single trip.
      2. Require the following information for all orders:
        • First and last name; DOB; Make, model, and color of vehicle; and a reliable contact phone number.
        • All orders should also include the statement: “DO NOT EXIT YOUR VEHICLE UPON ARRIVAL.”
      3. Provide customer with a time slot for pickup of item. Customers should be informed to call or text upon arrival, stating their first and last name and vehicle description to ensure proper order verification.
      4. Designate several spaces for curbside pickup and post a sign on each so people know these spaces are reserved (this will also help advertise the service when customers drive by). Designated spaces mean staff will be able to locate cars quickly and easily as soon as customers arrive.
      5. Staff are encouraged to wear PPE when conducting curbside pickup.
      6. Staff must verify a customer’s age before relinquishing product.