Creative ways to get products safely into your customers’ hands during COVID-19.
Stay-at-home and social distancing rules are forcing businesses to think creatively about how to get their products into customers’ hands. Delivery is part of most restaurants’ business models, but what can other types of businesses do? Here are a few options that might work for you.
1. Offer curbside pickup.
Curbside pickup is like a drive-through service at a distance. It can be a fully contactless experience when it works like this:
a. Customers place their orders online, over the phone, or by text. You can take payment now or when they pick it up.
b. Let your customer know you received their order via email or text.
c. Send customers an alert when the order is ready for pickup. You can let them pre-select a pickup time as part of the ordering process.
d. Give them clear instructions on how and where the pickup process happens.
e. When the customer arrives at your curbside, put the order in your customer’s trunk.
f. If you haven’t already, take their payment via a QR code or another contactless payment method (see below for more options).
2. Offer same-day home delivery.
Many small businesses have begun “delivering at a distance” to their local customers by turning employees into delivery people. If you explore this option, first make sure your employees are comfortable delivering to customers’ homes, supply them with protective gear (mask and gloves), and then follow any local safety guidelines. Some best practices for “delivery at a distance” include:
a. Call or text before you leave to make sure your customer is at home.
b. Leave the delivery at their doorstep, and as you leave, ring the bell or call to let them know it’s been dropped off (if you don’t need to collect payment).
c. Ring the bell and wait at least 6 feet away for them to open the door (if you need to collect payment). Explore touchless payment options such as putting a QR code on your delivery package (see below for more).
Alternatively, you can explore the use of local delivery services in your area. Ride-hailing companies have also stepped up by providing door-to-door pickup and delivery.
- Uber offers Uber Freight, an app that matches businesses with shippers. Once signed up, you simply tap a button to book a delivery to your customers’ home. Uber Freight offers instant quotes and real-time tracking.
- Starting soon in the California Bay Area, Lyft will allow drivers to sign up for work driving deliveries, including delivery of medical supplies and food to vulnerable populations.
- ShopRunner offers your customers free 2-day shipping and free returns. Their mobile app lists your store with all other local stores on their platform.
For food-based businesses, many companies - like Uber Eats and DoorDash - already have well established delivery programs available. Some are even waiving delivery fees for a limited time.
3. Accept touch-free payments.
There are several ways to accept payments during this time of social distancing and safety concerns around handling cash, credit cards, and PIN pads. Touch-free payment options let you collect funds with no physical money or cards changing hands and no receipts to sign:
- Quick Invoice: You can create and send an invoice to your customers in less than a minute on your phone or tablet with the PayPal Business app. It’s as simple as entering a payment amount and sending a link to your customers by email, text, or other messaging apps. Follow the full step-by-step instructions here.
- Sell on Social: If you want to start selling online quickly but don’t have a website, consider selling your products and services on social media. Through your PayPal Business account, you can quickly create and publish product listings with an embedded payment link. Share them on popular social medial channels, email, messaging apps, and more – it takes less than 5 minutes. Follow the full step-by-step instructions here.
- QR Codes: A QR code (short for Quick-Response code) is a barcode with a pattern of squares arranged on a grid that can be read from any angle. You can create a QR code for your business and post it in your store window, at your point of sale, or even on your customers’ packages. To pay, your customers just open their PayPal app and select “scan to pay.” They aim the camera at the QR code, which takes them to a payment page where they simply enter the payable amount and tap to finalize payment. You can create a PayPal QR code from the PayPal Business app (available in the Apple App Store and Google Play). Follow the full step-by-step instructions here.
Whether customers come to your business or your business goes to your customers, make sure the hand-off happens in a safe manner for both customers and employees. Keeping your distance and wearing a mask and gloves will help reassure everyone you value their safety as much as their business.