Top 10 Things to Know About: Curbside Pickup and Delivery Service

As part of the American Booksellers Association’s new educational series, The Top 10 Things to Know About …, Bookselling This Week reached out to several booksellers around the country to compile a list of 10 tips for bookstores offering roadside pick-up and delivery services offer holiday season.

Here are the top 10 things booksellers should consider:

  1. Create a dedicated area for your store’s pickup area.

  2. Be prepared for the space you need to coordinate orders to vary as orders go up and down.

  3. When the weather gets colder, make your pickup location a place for customers to drive to in their cars.

  4. Set up a phone number where roadside pick-up customers can send a text message when they arrive.

  5. Provide clear instructions on where and how to pick up orders and safety precautions.

  6. When you offer delivery, you consolidate deliveries on specific days of the week.

  7. Take advantage of the roadside pickup and delivery service – write personalized notes for people picking up or capturing a social media moment during a delivery.

  8. Keep a firm track of paper to keep track of all of the steps taken during the roadside pickup and delivery. When you have a record, you know exactly what went in a box or when it was delivered.

  9. Track your shipments with a google spreadsheet and map software.

  10. Wait for a customer to arrive to make sure the bag will hold up (or ask if they even want a bag).

Here is a more thorough summary of what booksellers had to say:

Holly Buy Wine at Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul, Minnesota

  • At the moment we have our pick-up point on the roadside on our front terrace. It’s a nice area for people to wait while we get their books out. As soon as the snow hits, we move our pick-up area, which makes it easier for people to drive up by car.

  • We have set up a special SMS pick-up number that goes to an iPad in the store. We also add our pick-up instructions when we keep people informed of their online orders, and of course, give them our pick-up instructions when we call them.

  • At first we packed everything in bags right away, but when things stood for a while the bags didn’t hold up as well. Now we’re waiting until the customer is here to pick it up.

Candice Anderson at Tombolo books in St. Petersburg, Florida

  • Plan space for the collection queue. One challenge was to create an area where the books waiting to be picked up could be staged and organized. This number can dwindle from week to week, so the space required is likely to be larger than you might initially think.

  • In the beginning, we packed up every pick-up order, but over time we found we went through a lot more bags than usual. We started asking people if they want a bag or not and since a lot more customers are environmentally conscious I think they really appreciate not getting a bag every time.

  • Communication with customers is so important when introducing a new service like pickup or roadside delivery. Think about each step of the process and give very clear instructions to customers. Not because all of this is very complicated, but because we found during the pandemic that our customers are more comfortable knowing what to expect.

  • The deliveries were a great success for us, especially during the strictest embargo period. We plan to continue offering deliveries but will consolidate them on certain days of the week.

  • These new ways of getting books out there have created ways to go the extra mile. Be vigilant whether you’re writing personalized notes or capturing a social media moment during a delivery.

  • Keep a firm track of paper. Everything is now a special order and we’ve enjoyed more than once pleasure to have a record of what went into a box or when it was delivered. More steps mean more potential stumbling blocks.

  • Consider setting up an ARC cart. We celebrated our six month birthday in the bookstore with a cart of old ARCs outside for pickup customers and they loved it.

Dave Lucey at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

  • Track your deliveries.

  • We have a google spreadsheet with a tab for each day and provide the address and order number for each delivery. We use this to create the route in the mapping software.

  • It has also come in handy when a question has been asked about a delivery (usually a few weeks later) and we can get back to the sheet. Sometimes a package is accidentally dropped off at the wrong house, or a spouse brought it and failed to inform the other person. By recording the details, we were able to resolve any problem quickly.

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