Article

4 Ways Technology Improves the Curbside Experience

Rakuten Ready

Posted by: Rakuten Ready / May 5, 2020

Our social, cultural, and business lives have been upended by COVID-19. There are so many unknowns going forward, how do we interact with friends, family & colleagues? How can we safely open up for business to restore our economy?  While there are many questions, one global lever can resuscitate our society back to a “new normal”: TECHNOLOGY.

Technology is, now more than ever, the great equalizer amongst businesses of all sizes. Those that understand how to use it to improve and sustain their brand are the ones that will survive and thrive, especially when it comes to mobile Order for Pickup. 

Many brands are now relying on Curbside-only Pickup including Petsmart, Applebees, Kroger, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and more.  In fact, orders placed online and picked up at brick-and-mortar locations surged an incredible 75% in March 2020 when compared to the previous year (source: Rakuten Intelligence).  

“The retailers that were already integrating tech successfully are the ones that are going to recover much more quickly” 

  – Kimberly Becker, Garnter, Senior Research Director

In order to weather these volatile times, businesses need to understand how technology can drive innovation and improvement into their strategies right now, especially curbside pickup.

How technology can improve your Curbside pickup experience:

1. Ensure Contactless payment options

Curbside orders really start when the customer is placing their order.  Businesses with contactless orders need to require credit or debit card payment at the start of the order experience. In addition, businesses should consider expanding payment options to additional P2P or NFC technologies including PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.

Not only will you meet the needs of current customers but you have an opportunity for capturing new customers by broadening the appeal of ordering from your brand, especially with Millennial and Gen Z customers.

According to WorldPay, 28% of consumers will be looking to shop and pay with P2P by 2022. A Zelle report also highlights that 80% of US consumers have used a P2P payment service, with 50% of new users being people aged 45 years or younger.

2. Optimize order throughput with Predictive Arrival Technology

Predictive arrival technology allows employees to prep orders and ensure they are ready on-time since they know when customers will arrive. Understanding the size of orders and when customers will arrive provides an opportunity to increase order throughput by being proactive instead of reactive in determining how to best prepare, or stage orders ahead of time.  

For example, big orders can be identified early and employees reallocated to help with prep and fulfillment, or if there is a cluster of orders at the same time, employees can start prepping orders in assembly-line fashion to ensure they are being safe with social distancing and that order prep is completed and fulfilled quickly when customers arrive.

3. Focus tech across the customer journey to lower wait times

As the number of customers ordering online for pickup continues to grow, there will be a natural reduction in customer wait times as they benefit by optimizing contactless eCommerce payments and predictive arrival technology. 

Now customers can drive up when their order is ready, have employees place it in the trunk, avoid swiping their credit card, get an e-receipt and be on their way quickly, all while maintaining social distancing.  Much different than the typical pre-Covid-19 experience when most customers showed up whenever, waited in line to checkout and paid on-site instead of choosing mobile order for pickup.

This is important because we know by looking at millions of our trips, Rakuten Ready data tells us that customers who wait less than 2 minutes are 4x more likely to come back and drive repeat business. 

4. Leverage marketing platforms to drive more curbside business

Customers are wary and as more states loosen up they are going to be more confused than ever about which merchants are open and offering curbside pickup. The best way to drive sales for your curbside business, is to leverage real-time platforms, such as Facebook, Nextdoor or Instagram, to communicate what is available for curbside pickup, when, and how. 

If you have unique offerings each day, promote them via email and on social media, for extended reach. If you are seeking greater demand, consider hyper-local Google/Facebook/Yelp retargeting tactics to engage consumers with relevant ads, highlighting your Curbside offerings.

Rakuten Ready Can Help

At Rakuten Ready, as the leaders in predictive arrival technology, we have been focusing on Curbside pickup since our beginning.  When our ARRIVE platform is tied to a mobile app associated with your business, it accurately predicts when a customer is approaching and when they have arrived so it can alert employees to ensure orders are ready on time. Our ARRIVE technology is fundamentally different from geofence or beacon platforms and outperforms them through the use of machine learning that leverages real-time activities, trends, and traffic patterns.

Rakuten Ready has years of proven mobile order for pickup experience with brands of all sizes, so we can help. Connect with us to understand how ARRIVE can assist your brand through these challenging times.

Learn More about ARRIVE