Shipping returns

During the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders and social distancing are part of our new way of life. Many small businesses are working hard to find new and creative ways to do business, despite these unusual conditions. In addition to gift cards, supporting curbside / takeout orders is a great way to let customers purchase your products even when they can’t enter your store. While this model has been historically dominated by pizza shops and other casual restaurants, all sorts of businesses are making this work now—from upscale, fine dining establishments to toy stores to local garden centers.

For some merchants, WooCommerce’s core local pickup shipping method may be all that’s needed to start supporting curbside ordering. However, our Local Pickup Plus plugin provides some extra features that are important for businesses that:

  • Have more than one location
  • Need to control when customers pick up orders, which is especially important right now with social distancing measures!
  • Want greater flexibility around which products can be picked up

In this article, we’ll cover how to set up Local Pickup Plus so you can start supporting curbside ordering, with special consideration for COVID-19’s unique factors. 

ℹ️ This plugin is very flexible—check out our documentation here for further info on how to tweak the settings recommended below.

Choose pickup rules

First, let’s set some rules to determine if customers can mix and match shipping methods (e.g., shipping and local pickup) within a single order. You have a few options, controlled by the Choosing Locations and Cart Item Handling options (found at WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping > Local Pickup Plus). 

If you’re new to curbside / takeout ordering, short-staffed, or dealing with other factors that impact fulfillment, we’d recommend allowing customers to choose a single pickup location per order and grouping their products into as few “packages” as possible by selecting the following options:

  • Choosing Locations: Allow customers to select only one location per order.
  • Cart Item Handling: Automatically group cart items into as few packages as possible.
The Choosing Locations and Cart Item Handling settings for Local Pickup Plus.

These settings will simplify fulfillment for you. If you’d like to be a little more flexible around these rules, please read our documentation to learn about other options

If you want to take our recommendations for simplicity a step further and only allow local pickup right now, you can disable all shipping methods for each shipping zone (at WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping > Shipping zones):

Disabling other Shipping Methods to require customers to use local pickup.

ℹ️ By default, all products can be picked up. You can change this at the category-level to adjust pickup availability for all products in that category, or at the product-level. Product-level settings will always override the category-level setting. You can read more about how to configure these settings in our documentation. 

Configure pickup appointments

Local Pickup Plus supports asking or requiring your customers to select an appointment for order pickup. In normal, non-pandemic times, this helps you know when customers are coming so you can prepare their order at just the right time (which is of particular concern for perishable goods, like cut flowers or pastries). 

To better support you during COVID-19 and all the associated legislation and public health concerns, we added the ability to limit the number of customers who can select the same appointment. This will help your business meet social distancing guidelines that limit the number of customers allowed in or around your store at the same time. 

To take advantage of these features, head to the Local Pickup Plus settings and check out the Pickup Appointments section. You can learn more about all the appointment settings in our documentation, but here’s a quick overview of our recommended setup right now:

  • Use the Pickup Appointments Mode setting to require that customers choose a pickup appointment at checkout.
  • Choose the appointment duration to determine how long each appointment time slot is—this can range from 15 minutes to all day. A shorter appointment duration will give you more precise information about when customers are coming to your store.

ℹ️ If you need shorter appointments, we’ve created a snippet to let you create 5 minute or 10 minute appointment slots. Please be sure you know how to safely add custom code to your site before installing this snippet!

  • Set appointment limits to control how many customers can select the same time before it’s hidden from the appointment calendar. Note that your Pickup Appointments Mode setting must require appointments to set appointment limits. 
  • Set your regular business hours and any holidays so the appointment calendar can reflect your open dates / hours. 
  • Adjust your lead time and deadline to determine the earliest and latest times that a customer can select as a pickup appointment, based on the time of their original order. For example, if it takes a couple hours to bake the cake they’ve ordered, you’ll want to set at least a two hour lead time.

Create your locations

Next, let’s set up your locations so customers know where they can pick up their orders. 

You can create as many locations as you want using Local Pickup Plus. In addition to your brick-and-mortar store(s), you can also use these locations to represent pop-up shops or other temporary, limited-hour locations. For example: each day of the week, my local CSA program sets up in a different location around the city to help distribute their fresh produce directly to customers. 

Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping > Pickup Locations and click Add Pickup Location to create your first location!

Adding a new pickup location from the Local Pickup Plus settings.

Beyond your “global” Local Pickup Plus settings, you can tweak how pickup works for different locations. Click here to read more about each pickup location setting. You’ll want to pay special attention to:

  • Address and location notes, which help customers find your location and can relay important pickup instructions, such as a number they should text when they arrive.
  • Available products, so you can control which products can be picked up at a particular location. You can ignore these options to let customers pick up products from any location. 
  • Pickup appointments, if you need to adjust the open hours, lead time, and deadline for the location (e.g., a pop-up shop that is only open on Wednesdays). This will override the general appointment settings for this particular location. 
  • Email list, to determine who should receive admin order notifications about orders placed for this location. This is a great way to ensure that managers are aware of new orders at their location.
Pickup location address and description settings.

Order process

Let’s put it all together to show how your customers place pickup orders and how you can manage incoming pickup orders.

In the example below, I’ve followed all the previous recommendations, so customers must pick up all products from one location. The customer will see the address and notes for any selected locations in the cart, at checkout, on the order confirmation screen, and in the order confirmation email. 

Selecting a pickup location in the cart.

After selecting a location, the customer can then schedule their pickup appointment at checkout. They’ll only see dates / times where there are still available appointment slots. Once an appointment time has met the appointment limit, it will be hidden from customer view.

Selecting a pickup appointment date and time at checkout.

On the administration side, you can use the pickup dates filter on WooCommerce > Orders to view orders based on when they will be picked up. This makes it easier to manage fulfillment by getting a quick glance at all the orders that are being picked up today, tomorrow, this week, or next week:

Use the pickup filter on WooCommerce > Orders to view orders by pickup date.

We hope that using Local Pickup Plus and our new support for limiting appointment times will help your business navigate through these unpredictable times! If there’s anything else we could be doing to support you, please drop a note in the comments or contact our team

Published by Lindsey Fogle

Lindsey is a product manager at SkyVerge based out of Charlottesville, Virginia. When not sneaking Harry Potter references into SkyVerge docs, you’ll find her hiking up/skiing down a mountain or perfecting her homemade pizza.

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