Your Curbside 101 Primer: Why Building a Curbside Delivery App is Important

Mobile, Curbside
Publication Date
26 April 2021

Your Curbside 101 Primer: Why Building a Curbside Delivery App is Important

Thank you for your interest in our Curbside 101 Primer! In this primer, you will explore:


Curbside is a service where a customer can order ahead and have their goods brought to their car by a store associate. While there are many ways to add curbside pickup services to a business, it always starts with a customer order. Offering a digital ordering solution, such as through a mobile app or website, provides the most seamless customer experience.

Once pickup orders are captured, a process is kicked off within a business to finalize the sale. These steps include: preparing the order, tracking the customer’s arrival, bringing the order to the designated pickup area and the correct car, verifying customer identity and closing the sale. Many retailers also offer an in store pickup for guests who prefer that option.

When orders are multiplied by the number of clients a business must serve within a given time period, the complexity of executing this process can become a logistical challenge. That’s where curbside technology and experts in digital transformation and innovation can help.

Why is Curbside Pickup Important?

Curbside pick up usage is on the rise. Customers who had never previously considered this service are now using it as their primary way to get groceries, takeout, and other goods they used to purchase from a brick and mortar store. Recent data suggests curbside has surged 208% since last year. In addition, Mobiquity research indicates that about 50% of the overall US population believe they will continue using new methods to shop for food, including curbside pick up, in the future. 1

Curbside is an appealing option for many people. But some populations will benefit and use it more than others, including:

  • People with disabilities
  • Families with small children
  • Time crunched commuters
  • Pet owners
  • Health and safety conscious people who prefer social distancing to limit exposure to germs

The biggest reason to consider adding curbside to your playbook is to improve customer experience which will drive loyalty to your business. Curbside pickup has been steadily increasing in recent years, meaning that customers expect curbside as an option at many, if not most, retailers. In January 2018, there were 2,451 nationwide click-and-collect locations for some of the world’s most well-known retailers. By December, that number had grown to 5,800. Why? Customers love it. And while implementing a curbside pickup experience can be a great short term solution to give customers a safer, touchless way to shop, for many companies, it can have a long-term, positive impact on business. That’s because, when curbside is done right, it’s a win-win for you and your guests!

There are many drivers as to why customers love curbside that coincide with business benefits, such as:

  • Minimized customer effort. By removing barriers to getting food or groceries, your guests have an easier time getting what they need while on-the-go. This may even encourage them to visit your business more often!
  • Less wait time. Limit customer frustration by enabling higher throughput for increased sales during peak times, while also getting customers on their way, faster.
  • Convenience for busy consumers. By utilizing arrival technology to allow customers to choose their curbside pickup time, you know exactly when to expect visitors and can prepare online orders in advance for smoother operations on your end (all while creating seamless experiences for the customer).
  • Customers can multitask. While they’re getting gas and waiting for their food to be delivered carside, you’re increasing the amount of visits you’re able to handle while boosting your sales.
  • Keep vulnerable customers safe. By staying in their car, your guests and store associates or staff are able to limit exposure to germs or viruses like influenza or coronavirus. Plus, customers are more likely to choose your store over a competitor who doesn’t offer curbside.
  • Save on costs. Both you and your guests will save money. You don’t need to invest in an expensive fleet of delivery trucks and drivers, and your guests won’t be charged delivery fees or tips.

What Kinds of Businesses Should Consider Curbside Pickup Technology?

Full service and quick-service restaurants

In the past, restaurant guests who didn’t have the time or desire to physically go inside a restaurant had two options: drive thru or delivery. While guests have grown accustomed to these options, both have drawbacks that a curbside pickup order can alleviate.

A drive-thru lane requires extra space and infrastructure, meaning it may not be an option for all restaurants. Not to mention the fact that a drive thru can limit the number of customers you can serve at one time. Curbside can offer a convenient and touchless solution for businesses without the ability to add a drive thru. It can also be a secondary way to serve guests during busy time periods for restaurants with a drive thru option.

To offer delivery, restaurants are required to either maintain a fleet of vehicles and pay drivers or partner with a third-party who may inflate their prices to customers, take a cut of the profits for each order, and whose customer service practices are outside the control of the restaurant. Curbside offers guests a convenient pick up option without the need for the complexity of a delivery option.

While restaurants seem the most obvious benefactors of curbside, there are other businesses that see great results when offering curbside to their customers.

Grocery store chains

Curbside is a great solution for consumers that need groceries. Whether you’re busy and don’t have time, or simply don’t want to leave the house and spend an hour doing what many consider a chore, the convenience that placing pickup orders offers is a reprieve that most customers can’t say no to. In addition, mass market retailers such as Costco, Walmart, and others that benefit from selling both groceries and other home goods can give their shoppers an advantage with curbside – by removing the burden of trying to run errands quickly, which can be difficult when navigating a big store.

grocery store curbside

Convenience stores

Curbside has tremendous value for convenience store chains where the added bonus of efficiency can drive customer loyalty. With fuel activation and digital payment available inside a mobile app where consumers can simultaneously place their lunch order, convenience stores can make the amount of customer effort needed to engage with them very low, for a very high return. Getting customers back to their day faster reduces the amount of stops they have to make while keeping them safe – and nothing says convenience better than this!

Other retailers

Many other retailers can also benefit from adding curbside to their playbook, including:

  • Clothing stores
  • Sporting goods retailers
  • Pet suppliers
  • Auto suppliers
  • Pharmacies
  • Home improvement stores

How to Implement Curbside Delivery Technology

Implementing curbside technology takes a fully-thought out strategy. You need to understand your potential pitfalls and form a plan so you can roll out your new service successfully. This process involves building out a mobile app, website, or both, and then establishing how you will physically accommodate a program in your parking lot, train staff, and design a procedure for handling pickups, identity verification, and payment.

Building a Mobile Application

When building a curbside delivery app, remember that it will be an investment. While you may want to release something quickly to meet new demand, your app should continue to serve you as your business grows and new opportunities arise. 

The two most basic functionalities the app needs is ordering and inventory. The app should provide a streamlined solution that allows customers to select the items to purchase - a function that can look very different depending on your business model. A deli might give customers the option to build their sandwich from bun-to-bun or offer a selection of menu options. A retail store, on the other hand, needs the ability to show customers what is in stock so that they can receive their full order.

To streamline the experience and avoid face-to-face contact during peak virus seasons, your digital platform should accept credit cards and other forms of digital payment so that customers don't have to wait for a card reader or sign a physical receipt. You should also consider how your loyalty program will integrate with this new capability since customers expect to have the same experience in store, online, and via curbside mobile ordering.

Designating Curbside Parking and Staff

Implementing curbside pickup also requires many logistical considerations. You'll need to set up an area in your parking lot where customers can receive their orders. If you don't own your parking lot, you'll need to coordinate this with surrounding businesses and the lot owner. You'll also need signage to show curbside customers where to park. Directions for where to go for pickup should be clearly laid out in the mobile app.


If you have many locations, you'll have to consider how each location differs. Some of your stores might have easily accessible parking lots while others do not. As you examine how to implement curbside pickup, working with experts who have implemented these types of programs will help you determine how to make curbside work for your business.

You'll also need to consider how your staff factors in. Depending on your needs, you may decide to have dedicated curbside staff. A retail store will need team members in charge of communicating and organizing incoming orders and others ready to distribute them. A restaurant may need employees to handle preparing and packaging an influx of curbside orders, and others prepared to take them out to people's cars.

Your team will need new training to handle curbside deliveries and should be properly equipped for success. This can include things like disposable gloves and face masks or seasonal gear such as branded jackets for winter, t-shirts for summer, or umbrellas to keep themselves and customers' orders dry on rainy days.

Verifying Identity

In order to provide contactless service, you should have a safe and secure way to identify cars and customers’ identity. If you’re hoping to maintain sales of regulated goods, such as alcohol or cigarettes, you'll also need confirmation of a customer's age in order to finalize a sale.

Luckily, technology has made contactless identity verification possible through seamless integration with your curbside mobile app. Customers can send a photo of their drivers' license or other documents and a selfie to help your employees identify them and verify the information. Learn more about Electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) technology now.

The Final Step: Testing and Refining Your Process

Before you launch curbside pickup, you'll need to make sure every detail is right. Items should be packed to avoid accidents like spills and breakage. You also need to make sure your delivery process works — staff can pick and deliver on-time, the app is bug-free, and customers know how to use your services.

As you test your new service, you’ll discover areas that may need refinement, such as training and change management, or adding new steps to the delivery process like double-checking orders before they go out to customers. Whatever you need, adding a curbside pickup program means taking time to test so you can have a successful rollout.

Challenges and Pitfalls to Offering Curbside Pickup

Many businesses are implementing curbside pickup with sudden urgency. While curbside can lead to long term success, it's crucial that it’s executed thoughtfully. To do so, it’s important to consider the challenges you might run into:

  • Curbside needs: A company with only street parking or one that doesn't own its parking lot may run into trouble defining a pickup location. A shared parking lot can have several businesses using curbside delivery, causing traffic. It's crucial to figure out if you have the curb space to offer this service and coordinate with other nearby businesses.
  • Capacity planning: From a customer's perspective, curbside pickup is nearly instantaneous. Someone can tap a few buttons on a screen and drive up to a filled shopping bag upon arrival. On your end, you need to understand what kind of capacity you have. If you use a time slot system through your mobile app, you can ensure that you're only receiving the number of orders that your staff, space, and inventory can fulfill.
  • Customer learning: For some of your customers, submitting a curbside pickup order might be new territory. You need an app that's easy to understand and a system that's easy to follow. Make directions for where to park and how to use the app clear and straightforward for customers.
  • Business readiness: To start accepting and delivering curbside orders, you need to be prepared. You need well-trained staff and the resources to build a user-friendly app. If you're investing in curbside pickup, it should be a strategic decision that will outlast the current trends and transform your business for the better.

While these are some commonly overlooked challenges, we also find that there are common misconceptions about developing a curbside program. Learn more about the five myths of launching curbside pickup.

Building a Custom Program vs. Using a Third Party Product

You may be wondering if third-party delivery or curbside apps are better suited for your business. In some cases, paying out fees to these third-party apps can be worth it to get contactless service up and running quickly. Still, there are many benefits to having a curbside pickup app that you cannot get from a third party. The following list showcases key benefits associated with custom curbside programs:

  • Complete logistical control: Having your own mobile app means you can build it to fit your business. You'll have complete control over the customer experience and never have to worry about bad service from delivery people you haven't vetted.
  • Branded messaging: Another benefit is the ability to provide a complete, branded experience. Your app can be built to reflect your brand and its values, building stronger relationships with your business. Plus, you can integrate your loyalty program to encourage repeat business.
  • No extra fees for service: The biggest drawback to third-party apps is they take a cut of every order you fulfill and often add additional fees to your customers, which can discourage use and make for poor customer experience. With your own app, you can decide on your own curbside pricing strategy.

Your Partner for Creating a Curbside Program

There are many important factors to consider when launching a curbside program. To ensure that your program is launched successfully, think about working with a partner who has experience analyzing end-to-end operations to best integrate curbside into your unique business model.

Why Work with Mobiquity?

Mobiquity has a wealth of experience helping customers design the right program for their operational needs and we’re ready to help you get started. We have worked with restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and other retail chains to kickstart their curbside journey.

Are you next? Let's Talk!

We can start with a simple strategy conversation and then determine next steps based on your specific needs. Contact us to talk with Mobiquity about your curbside goals.


  • Proprietary Mobiquity survey, m/Pulse: Using Technology to Buy Food and Groceries, April 2020.

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