Curbside is Joining Rakuten

 

Today we’re proud to announce that Curbside is joining forces with Rakuten, a global leader in e-commerce with a global ecosystem of well over 1 billion consumers and merchants.

For our customers and partners the headline is that nothing will change.  Curbside will operate independently as a Rakuten-owned company with our team, services, partners and product offerings all remaining intact.  Joining the Rakuten family will give Curbside resources to accelerate our platform, scale globally and help our partners tap into Rakuten’s sizable ecosystem.

Denis and I founded Curbside with a mission to build technology to enable fast, easy mobile commerce at brick and mortar locations.  Our approach has always been to partner with great retailers, which has set us apart in a technology industry often focused on disruption and disintermediation.  Empowering local merchants is also deep in Rakuten’s DNA since the origin of its marketplace business in Japan.  As we got to know the Rakuten team we realized just how closely aligned we are and of the size of the opportunity that lies ahead as we bring our platforms together.

As consumers continue to flock to mobile commerce, retailers are in a position to leverage the huge investments that they’ve made in their physical stores to tap into digital growth.  Combining Rakuten’s mobile properties with Curbside’s technology has the potential to enable brick-and-mortar restaurants and stores to give their customers an immediate, convenient way to let consumers order ahead and drive growth.  Store operators armed with real-time information can provide great service to the growing number of mobile shoppers.

Curbside is joining forces with Rakuten because we share a vision around connecting consumers to easy, convenient mobile commerce at stores in the communities where they work and live.  It’s the vision that our team has been driving toward with such singular purpose since we started.  It’s the opportunity that our immensely supportive investors saw when they backed us, and it’s what our innovative retail partners believe in when they work with us.  I’m so grateful to the team, investors, and partners who have propelled us and are making this exciting next stage of the journey possible.

Announcing the ARRIVE SDK for Developers

Knowing when your customers are coming. It’s a problem that’s simple in theory, difficult in practice and more urgent than ever as physical and digital commerce continue to rapidly converge.

Today we’re proud to announce a public SDK for ARRIVE, our predictive arrival technology. ARRIVE is a tool for seamlessly bridging digital and physical worlds. It’s the first thing we built when we started the company, which made a lot of sense given our backgrounds working on location technology for iOS at Apple. Now, we’re excited to be opening it up to the broader developer community to incorporate into any iOS or Android app.

ARRIVE makes a predictive determination that someone is approaching a physical site using their smartphone, without draining their battery. ARRIVE also provides a definitive understanding of when your users are at your locations as well as visualization, metrics on how long they spend there and more. It alleviates the need for check-ins. We think of it as air traffic control for real-world locations.

The ARRIVE SDK already runs on millions of smartphones, built into the apps of Sephora, Nordstrom, Pizza Hut, CVS and many others. We’ve helped our partners service tens of millions of customer trips across thousands of locations. ARRIVE alerts our partners when their customers are approaching, allowing them to provide a premiere curbside pickup experience, better in-store service, food that’s out of the oven just as the customer pulls up, or a dressing room ready with reserved items inside when the customer walks into the store.

ARRIVE continually learns from patterns of arrivals – taking into account real-time traffic, real-world patterns of approach on road networks, and hundreds of other inputs to make a confident determination of when a customer is arriving.

THE ISSUES WITH GEOFENCES AND BEACONS

Developers sometimes assume they can use geofences or beacons to know when users are approaching (or have arrived). Several of us on the Curbside team worked on iOS geofencing technology, and one reason we built ARRIVE is that we understood geofencing’s limitations for mission-critical use cases.

Geofences are a distance-based technology, essentially setting up a radius around a location. If the radius is too large, you’ll get false alerts when customers aren’t really on their way. If the radius is too small, alerts are likely to occur after the customer has already arrived, if at all. ARRIVE gives a time-based notification, which corresponds to a very different distance in a dense urban area than it does if the customer is approaching on a freeway in the suburbs.

Beacons also don’t work for mission-critical arrival alerts – some 40% of users disable Bluetooth on their devices (42% of Curbside app users disable Bluetooth; other app developers also report rates between 35% and 45%). Even when Bluetooth is on, beacons have a high failure rate for outdoor use and can be painful to deploy and maintain.

ARRIVE is built to help people creating apps around physical world locations to overcome the limitations of geofences and beacons.

UNDERSTAND AND INVENT

The ARRIVE dashboard offers real-time visibility and analytics on customer trips, including valuable statistics such as how long users are spending at a location or how long they are waiting for an action (like an order handoff) to complete. Alerts and customer trip status can be consumed wherever and however you want, with an SDK for native apps and a REST API and webhooks for desktop, web, or other systems like point-of-sale. Or you can use the ARRIVE Console to get alerts, visualize trips, and close out orders.

At Curbside, we focus on helping our partners build great experiences without aggregating and selling their users’ location data for advertising purposes. As digital and real-world commerce continue to blend, new opportunities to innovate on customer experience are opening up across retail, food, hospitality, travel and other domains. We built ARRIVE to help you explore those applications. We know there are many more possibilities than we could ever dream up, which is why we’re so excited to be putting this tool into the hands of the developer community today.

What could you do if you knew exactly when your customers was arriving, every time? We can’t wait to see. Contact us to learn more about how ARRIVE can help your business.