The Increasing Importance of Curbside in Retail

Mobile, Curbside
Andrea Noll
Publication Date
22 March 2020

The Increasing Importance of Curbside in Retail

Update to our original blog:

On February 26 of this year, we posted that curbside delivery (contactless delivery) was the newest hot spot in retail having no idea how true this would be in just a few short weeks. Fast forward to today and curbside has an entirely new importance to consumers. It offers a safer way to get families the supplies they need in the weeks ahead while social distancing. It also provides a way to pick up non-essential items that might make the coming weeks of isolation more bearable - your favorite take out or the supplies to work on that project that is going to keep you sane.

Early reports are already highlighting a steep increase in the popularity of curbside pickup, with time slots booking up days in advance at many popular retailers. We are hearing stories of people who had never used curbside figuring out the process and it’s a safe bet that when this crisis is over, new behaviors will have been established. Curbside is here to stay.

If you’re interested in learning more about this trend, check out our blog below. And if you’re ready to talk about how to quickly bring curbside capabilities to your business, reach out for a 30 minute consultation.  

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Curbside pickup is the new drive thru. 

Whether ordering food, picking up groceries, or getting a new TV, U.S. customers in the ‘convenience generation’ are demanding immediate gratification. And companies are racing to meet that expectation through innovation.

Restaurants and retail stores that are looking to deliver greater speed and convenience have several ways to improve their experience. But pairing curbside pickup with a mobile app is the most effective at driving profits and customer loyalty.

Let’s talk about restaurants first. 

Increasingly, diners expect their order to be 1.) ready in minutes and 2.) delivered to them with minimal effort. 

Drive-thru and delivery are two options filling that need, but they both present challenges. For example, drive-thru lanes are not always feasible for restaurants due to space. Also, customers are dissatisfied with congested drive-thru lanes. Delivery has its problems too. Having your own fleet of vehicles and drivers is expensive, and third-party services are subject to inaccurate delivery estimates and high fees, taking control of the customer journey away from the store.

Curbside pickup solves these challenges and streamlines the take-out experience for restaurant staff and diners alike. We’ve seen companies reduce the amount of time customers must wait for their food, streamline kitchen operations, and limit the number of people waiting in a drive-thru or counter service line. In today’s fast-paced world, all of these improvements present incredible opportunities for restaurants looking to enhance their business.

Restaurants are also embracing the opportunity to expand their brand and improve customer engagement with the onset of curbside. Chipotle’s “Chipotlane” is a lane where customers go to pick up their order placed via the mobile app. Chipotle chose a memorable name, and combined the idea of a drive-thru with a more modern ordering strategy, improving the convenience of digital ordering and enabling customers to skip the line to get their order.  

But restaurants aren’t the only ones taking advantage of curbside. Retailers are also getting in on the game.

This year, Walmart broke history and tradition by advertising for the very first time during Super Bowl 54 to promote its curbside pickup.The commercial shows popular science fiction characters who touch down on Earth from across the galaxy to collect groceries and other products at Walmart curbside pickup stations. Now available at over 3,100 locations, Walmart’s curbside pickup is a great example of how they are differentiating themselves in the market, delivering everything from Roombas to blenders directly to your car. Target and Best Buy have followed suit, and more curbside retailers are sure to come.

 Curbside offers the ultimate benefit for customers.

Organizations are recognizing that they need to offer better, easier, and faster experiences when customers engage with their brand. Mobile apps should offer end to end experiences that save time and money. And fulfillment should meet customers where they are, which increasingly often, is in their car.

In this busy world, curbside will be an appealing option for most people. But certain populations will benefit and engage the most, including some that might be new opportunities for your brand, including: 

  • People with disabilities who would have an easier time having their items delivered to them, rather than getting out of the car
  • People with small children, who could benefit from the time saved getting their children in and out of car seats 
  • Busy professionals and commuters who desire to pick up groceries and food for the family on the go
  • People with pets, especially in the hot summer when it's not safe to leave them in the car 

If you’re ready to implement curbside for your business to improve the customer experience, let’s talk

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