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The Curbside Collection customer experience

Image Courtesy of Gimbal (https://gimbal.com/curbside-pickup-software/)

The Curbside Collection customer experience

If curbside collection isn’t on your radar then it needs to be. Curbside collection or, “click to car”as The Times’ Consumer Affairs Editor, Louise Eccles, calls it, is really taking off. A new report from the market analyst GlobalData revealed more than 40% of Britons said that once things were back to normal they would continue to use curbside pickup for online orders more than they had before Covid-19, with the report stating: “Many consumers started using these services during the pandemic and found they like them.”

“We think curbside is going to be exceptionally sticky,” said McKinsey senior partner Sajal Kohli in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance. “The fundamental question for most retailers is, if you think about the retail box and the physical footprint, what’s the strategic intent of the box in the world of omni-channel post-COVID? Some categories are still going to be incredibly conducive to in-store interaction, but for several categories, I think consumers discovered this newfound convenience and they will actually stick to curbside, which has massive implications, as you can imagine, for retail.”

Retailers rolling out Curbside

The concept also known as Curbside Collection was being rolled out by a large number of retailers that operate across the apparel and footwear, hardware and grocery sectors even before the pandemic hit. A recent survey commissioned by PayPal revealed that almost half (46%) of retailers are in the process of rolling out curbside pickup, with leading retailers such as M&S, John Lewis, Waitrose, Dunelm, Currys PC World and Pets At Home.

Sportswear giant Nike was an early adopter of the curbside collection model in its Nike By Melrose store in Los Angeles.The store offers a range of enhanced curb services facilitated through its own SMS messaging system, Swoosh Text. Customers simply message the store before they arrive and then pull into the assigned spaces to pick up their pre-ordered goods. What’s more, Nike allows them to also return or exchange goods through the same service. It’s a well-thought out system that goes beyond your standard click and collect approach.

Typical Curbside experiences

Customers place their order online for collection as usual. Once they’ve been informed that it is ready to pick-up, with some brands the customer can now share their GPS location with the store so that staff can see that they are on route. This enables the brands to ensure that their order is prepared and ready to be brought straight out to the vehicle when it arrives, making for a faster and friction-free click and collect experience.

Curbside at Shopping Malls

Retailers operating big box or out of town locations with ample parking in close proximity to the store can offer the curbside collection experience for their customers, this much more easily achieved than the brands who tend to operate mainly from high street or shopping mall locations. Many brands operating collection services target delivery KPI’s of less than 2 minutes, shopping centres are currently not geared to provide this level of service to the brands and can’t have staff members running everywhere with orders leaving the store short staffed. Given the exponential rise of curbside convenience and the space available to them many Shopping Malls have started to explore how best to deploy the curbside experiences in conjunction with their resident brands.

Investing in Curbside

It starts with a consumer Mobile App and for those retailers with one already they can add in geo-location SDK solution allowing them create ‘arrival detection’ capabilities, the staff members receiving push notifications to their mobile devices letting you know how when the customer is minutes from from your store so you can be on the front foot to serve them via store or curbside collection.

As stores re-open and shoppers emerge blinking into the light on 12th April many brands will be reflecting how the curbside collection experience has worked incredibly well for customers trying to shop during the pandemic. This is no one off as the data points to this being an increasing trend given the role it plays in delivering higher levels of customer service. For those with mature curbside collection models it looks like it is an area that will continue to receive increasing levels of investment. This evidenced recently in a comment from US based Best Buy’s CEO Corie Barry who said that Best Buy will not only continue to offer curbside, but will enhance it by “adding functionality that will display information about high and low traffic times and provide digital updates for customers when they are in the parking lot waiting for their curbside orders.” this likely to be new functionality including information about busy and quiet periods.

The future looks bright for customer convenience !