COVID-19 has had severe ramifications, not only from a health standpoint but economically as well. With most people staying home and practicing social distancing, businesses that rely on in-person transactions are moving online.
We’ve already outlined how to pivot your business model, update your website, and lead a team remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. But there’s something else small business owners will want to consider as part of their crisis management plan: offering curbside pickup and delivery options for customers.
By enabling shoppers to place orders online and receive their items with minimal contact, you can do your part to keep your community safe, while also continuing to bring in revenue.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some alternative shopping options for local businesses. Then we’ll show you how to set up either curbside pickup or a delivery option for your customers using WooCommerce. Let’s go!
Related: DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide
Alternative Shopping Methods During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued several public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These suggestions include:
Stay home as much as possible.
Keep six feet between yourself and others.
Avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more.
Unfortunately, these guidelines make it difficult for small local businesses to welcome customers and conduct sales normally. To maintain even a limited revenue stream, most retailers and restaurants have had to develop alternative methods for serving customers.
Curbside pickup is one of the best and most popular ways of doing that. It enables customers to purchase products online, and then visit your store to receive their items. Rather than having them go into your building, you or one of your employees brings the customer’s things out to their car. Think of it like takeout.
With local delivery, your customers stay home while you bring their orders to their doors. Both methods go a long way towards minimizing contact between people since shoppers won’t be gathering in your store.
However, you can take further precautions as well, such as:
Wearing gloves when packing customers’ orders.
Requiring online payments to avoid contact with customers when exchanging cash.
Place pickup orders directly in customers’ trunks.
Leaving delivery orders at customers’ doors, and calling or texting them to let them know their packages have arrived.
Providing face masks and hand sanitizer to employees involved in pickup and delivery orders.
Fortunately, the risk of transferring or contracting COVID-19 via an object is very low. By setting up curbside pickup and delivery and minimizing contact between your employees and customers, you can significantly reduce the health risks for all involved.
Related: The 10 Most Popular Online Payment Gateways for Your Website, Compared
How to Set Up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website (In 4 Steps)
Below, we’ve outlined steps for setting up both curbside and local delivery options for your small business. Note that these instructions assume you already have WooCommerce installed and configured on your store’s website. If that’s not the case, please check out our tutorial on getting started with WooCommerce, and then you’ll be ready to get rolling!
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Step 1: Configure a Local Shipping Zone
The first thing you’ll need to do is pick a WooCommerce shipping zone for your local area. This will prevent a shopper who is outside your service area from placing an order for pickup or delivery.
In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping.
Click on Add Shipping Zone.
Add a descriptive name for the shipping zone and then select your region.
Click on Limit to specific ZIP/postcodes to narrow your pickup and delivery range.
Remember to save your changes when you’re done.
Related: How to Create a Restaurant Website
Step 2: Enable Local Pickup as a Shipping Option
Next, while still on your local shipping zone page, select Add shipping method.
WooCommerce includes a local pickup option out of the box. Select it from the drop-down menu, then click on the Add shipping method button.
That’s all you have to do to enable curbside pickup for your local business.
However, if you would like to refine this option, you can purchase and install the Local Pickup Plus WooCommerce extension. This optional add-on enables you to specify a pickup location, set hours, offer discounts to customers who select curbside pickup, and more.
Step 3: Add a Flat Rate Shipping Option
WooCommerce no longer offers a “local delivery” shipping option. However, you can still configure one without the need for an additional plugin.
On your local shipping zone page, add a second shipping option and select Flat rate. Then click on the Edit option for that shipping method.
Change the Method title to “Local Delivery” (or however you want to present this option to your customers at checkout). If you want, you can also add a flat rate delivery fee.
Finally, click on Save changes. Your local pickup and delivery options will now both appear on your site’s checkout page, where customers can select their preferred methods.
At this point, you’re ready to start offering curbside pickup and delivery to your customers. However, you may want to take a few extra steps to make managing your orders easier.
Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing
Step 4: Install Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce to Manage Requests
While you can technically set up curbside pickup and delivery for your business using WooCommerce alone, its native features don’t enable you to manage or schedule orders. This could lead to problems if you have multiple customers placing pickup and delivery orders at the same time.
One way to solve this issue to enable customers to schedule their pickups and deliveries. Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce can help with this.
After you install and activate this plugin, navigate to Order Delivery Date in your WordPress dashboard.
Then configure the following settings:
Select the checkbox next to Enable Delivery Date capture on the checkout page.
Choose which days you’re available for delivery.
Set the minimum number of hours you need to prepare an order for delivery.
Specify how many days in advance customers can schedule an order.
Select the checkbox next to Selection of the delivery date on the checkout page will become mandatory.
Set the maximum number of deliveries you can handle per day.
Select the checkbox next to Enable default sorting of orders (in descending order) by Delivery Date on WooCommerce > Orders page.
You may also wish to make additional adjustments in the Appearance and Holidays tabs. Remember to save your changes when you’re done.
Now, when customers reach your checkout page, they’ll have to choose a delivery date.
Once the maximum number of orders for any particular day has been reached, that date will become unavailable in the calendar. This will prevent you from receiving more orders than you can physically manage at one time.
On your WooCommerce Orders page, you’ll be able to see the customer’s specified delivery/pickup date listed for each order.
Note that you’ll still need to contact customers to inform them what time their orders will be ready (especially for curbside pickup).
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Curbside Takeout or Home Delivery?
Curbside pickup and delivery options enable your customers to purchase their favorite products from you with minimal contact. This could help your business survive the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic side effects and is a valuable strategy for building customer loyalty.
Fortunately, you can enable both local pickup and delivery using WooCommerce in just four steps:
Configure a local shipping zone.
Enable local pickup as a shipping option.
Add a flat rate shipping option.
Install Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce to manage requests.
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