Best Practices for In-Store and Curbside Pickup

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

In today’s COVID-era, more retailers are offering innovative solutions for customers to shop with minimal brick-and-mortar browsing time. Options to place an order online and pick up your items in the store are extremely popular and will likely stick around post-pandemic. These options are convenient and allow customers to avoid dealing with delayed shipping.

While beneficial, these omnichannel customer interactions can also lead to some unique challenges that aren’t present in brick-and-mortar experiences. The following best practices can help set retailers up for success when implementing curbside/in-store pickup services:

  • Review terms of use. Do your website terms and policies clearly explain the answers to common in-store pick up questions? Take a look at disclosures for issues like when customers will be charged and how long customers have to pick up their items.
  • Plan for escheat. What is standard protocol if the customer does not pick up their items within the specified time frame? Avoid escheatment issues by putting automated refund and cancellation protocols in place.
  • Check sales tax calculations. Depending on your business, in-store pick up could change the way you calculate sales tax for certain orders. Take another look at the criteria for deciding where or whether to charge sales tax.
  • Address price differences between time of purchase and pickup. A few days between the customer’s order and pick up dates could mean the item price has changed by the time the customer arrives for pick up. Consider strategies to allow customers to request price matching to your own in-store price on the day of pick-up. Include relevant information for how a customer can request an adjustment in your terms or policies.
  • Clearly disclose your return policy. Is it clear to customers how returns work for curbside pickup transactions? Make sure to clearly disclose your return policy to customers before they complete a transaction online. The return policy could be linked during the online checkout process and could also be provided to the customer when they pick up their merchandise.
  • Consider pandemic safety protocols for employees and customers. Limit contact between customers and sales clerks, when possible. Possible mitigation efforts could include displaying a door or sidewalk sign with instructions for pickup, and avoiding direct hand-off of merchandise.

Putting it Into Practice: While in-store and curbside pickup are great options to generate more sales and foster a safe and convenient shopping experience, retailers may face unique challenges that aren’t present with brick-and-mortar shopping. Best practices for tackling such challenges involve implementing internal protocols for curbside and in-store pickup.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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