Mobile Commerce to Empower Society: Curbside

Published by Rakuten.Today

It’s Monday morning, you’re on your way to work. You reach your favorite cafe to grab your morning latte, but there’s a line of people snaking out the door. This is going to take a while. Or is it?

An employee emerges from the cafe holding a takeout bag, greets you by your name and hands you your coffee. Astonished gazes from the coffee line follow you, as you thank the employee and continue on your way.

This is the future that Silicon Valley startup Curbside, acquired by the Rakuten Group earlier this month, wants to make reality. It’s an exciting mix of online-to-offline, mobile commerce and same-day delivery, with a strong focus on empowering small businesses to take advantage of new technologies.

Cutting-edge convenience commerce

On his first visit to share the vision with Rakuten employees at a recent all-hands at Americas regional headquarters in the Bay Area, co-founder and CEO Jaron Waldman said “The physical world that we grew up in was very separate from e-commerce but we like to think that mobile commerce is going to become the dominant way that people order things in the future.”

Curbside enables customers to make purchases from physical stores through their mobile devices before they actually reach the store. Merchants are alerted when the customer is about to arrive, so that they can have the purchased item ready to go as the customer walks in. In addition to quick-service restaurants, Curbside also partners with retail clients such as CVS and Nordstrom.

“We’re working with some very large brands, and their mobile commerce programs are exploding,” explained Waldman. “They’re making big investments in hooking up their stores and their restaurants to be available for same-day commerce.”

Empowering small businesses

But according to Waldman, Curbside also has a vision for empowering small and medium size businesses.

“Smaller merchants — quick-serve restaurants, physical stores — they tend not to have big technology teams to help build these solutions in the right way,” continued Waldman. “We think that smaller merchants need an end to end platform to connect their stores, and that’s something we’ve been building towards.”

For the team at Curbside, the synergies with Rakuten were obvious. “We realized quickly that we saw the world in a lot of the same ways and there were a lot of opportunities to work together,” Waldman said. “Our competitors don’t have the same attitude of empowerment… we think we’ve found a like-minded outlook in the Rakuten family, because Rakuten has always been about empowering merchants through technology and helping them get online.”

State-of-the-art geolocation technology

Another thing setting Curbside apart from the competition is its cutting-edge geolocation tech. The company’s ARRIVE platform uses anonymized location data and machine learning to predict what time the customer will reach the store, down to the minute.

“We have location technology that is best in class,” explains Waldman. “If merchants want a six-minute alert before the customer comes to the store, we can give them that notification.”

And Waldman isn’t the only one excited about the technology. “Geolocation data is going to be critical in the future,” predicted CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani at Rakuten’s weekly all-hands meeting in Tokyo. “Curbside provides access to the most state-of-the-art geolocation technology available.”

Exciting possibilities for the future of e-commerce

By becoming part of the Rakuten family, the Curbside team’s capacity for expansion into new areas will expand considerably.

“We’re really excited about everything that’s going on in Rakuten — across fintech, e-commerce, Rakuten Marketing, Ebates,” says Waldman. “We were absolutely blown away by the depth of the ecosystem in Japan.”

With so much potential for new businesses on the horizon, Waldman is enthusiastic about the future. “We couldn’t have found a better partner.”

Checkout the Rakuten Blog post

Mobile Commerce to Empower Society: Curbside

 

Key Metrics That Can Make or Break Your Pickup Program

Adoption of in-store and curbside pickup is growing rapidly, increasing nearly 43% from 2015 to 2017 with 50% of shoppers having used a buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) service in the last 12 months, according to JDA. While a large number of businesses have adopted a mobile ordering program to stay competitive and meet customer demand, scaling your program can be challenging. When evaluating the performance of these programs, there are new metrics that you should monitor regularly, especially at launch.


 

Customer Wait Time

What is it? Wait time is the time period from when your customers pull into your parking lot to when they receive their order.

If there is one metric you should be obsessing over with your mobile order ahead program, it’s customer wait time. The time a customer waits to pick up their order directly impacts their satisfaction and likelihood to make a repeat purchase. We’ve found that customers are 2x more likely to repeat if their wait time is under 2 minutes.

There are a few things you can do to lower your customer wait time. First, operators need a technology solution that is designed for pickup, not ordering. A queue of orders sorted by actual pickup time reduces wait times for most customers. Store personnel with a sorted work list and visibility into order status, arrival ETAs, and customer wait time perform better. Second, operators with accurate and reliable arrival notifications integrated into current systems are able to trim minutes off wait from every order. Third, business managers at all levels need real time and historical wait time data so they can continually monitor performance at each location and address process or training issues quickly.

 

Dwell Time

What is it? Dwell time is the time period that your customer is at your location from wheels/feet on premises to wheels/feet off premises.

For most order ahead programs, dwell time is critical to knowing a full picture of the number of parking spots needed for customers that are picking up orders. If customers are dwelling, overall throughput of the program can decline. Poor throughput doesn’t just affect your order ahead customers. If you do not have available designated pickup parking spots, your order ahead customers are going to park elsewhere, reducing the number of spots available for in-store shoppers, and decreasing customer satisfaction for both in store and pickup customers.

Typically, the easiest way to reduce dwell time is to reduce customer wait time. Longer than expected dwell times can signal problems with a pickup program or unexpected customer behavior after pickup. It can be an issue to address through customer communication or an opportunity to upsell customers on additional items, since they are still at your location.

It is important to note that sometimes customer wait cannot be measured because current systems do not support capturing the handoff of pickup orders to customers. Dwell time then becomes the key metric. Dwell time can be measured solely with location technology and does not require changes in processes and systems. For take-away orders in food & beverage and BOPIS in retail, dwell time is a good surrogate for wait time.

 

Customer Satisfaction

What is it? Customer satisfaction measures how satisfied customers are with your service and how likely they are to remain loyal to your business.

One of the most popular methods for measuring customer satisfaction is the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). It is easy to implement and requires a single question “How satisfied were you with your experience?” along with a corresponding survey scale. Businesses will get best results from their CSAT if it is sent immediately after the user completes their pickup so that it is fresh in their mind. By sending the CSAT regularly, businesses can track customer satisfaction over time and spot issues at specific locations.

A more sophisticated measure of customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter Score (NPS).  Since the growth of order ahead programs is a function of repeat rate and referrals, it is well suited to gauge the customer’s experience and likely behavior.

NPS is calculated with a single question “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”, typically on a 0-10 scale. Those that respond with a 9-10 are considered Promoters and are more likely to purchase often, remain customers longer, and refer friends and family. Those that score 0-6 are considered Detractors and are unhappy customers who may impede growth through negative word of mouth. Those that respond with 7-8 are considered Passives and are satisfied but unenthusiastic and are more likely to move to a competitor. Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score.

Discover ARRIVE at Shoptalk’s Store of the Future Discovery Zone

Later this month, retail industry leaders from around the world will come together in Las Vegas for four days of learning, collaborating, and networking at Shoptalk, the world’s largest conference for retail and ecommence innovation.

The event will include 300+ speakers across 100+ sessions and is expected to have over 7,500 attendees. In addition to the speaking tracks, exhibitors will be showcasing the most cutting edge and established technologies and solutions in the retail space, with special Discovery Zones dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, Store of the Future, Emerging Technologies, and Grocerytalk.

Curbside will be showcasing ARRIVE in the Store of the Future Discovery Zone. BOPIS, curbside pickup, reserve online, appointments and other premium customer programs run better with ARRIVE. If you have a program that needs help scaling or a new initiative, let’s schedule 1 on 1 consultation. Or you can just stop by booth #SF1 and say hi.

Request a meeting here.

Stop by our TechTalk on March 19th at 3:15pm in the Exhibit Hall where Jaron Waldman, CEO of Curbside, will discuss omni-channel best practices and best-in-class technologies that will help retailers deliver 5-star pickup experiences, every time.

See you there!

[WEBINAR] Proven Practices for Delivering 5-Star Omnichannel Experiences

Join guest speaker Ananda Chakravarty (Senior Analyst at Forrester) and Jaron Waldman (CEO of Curbside) as they share insights and learnings from across the industry on mobile order ahead programs. Learn about the tools and processes that enable associates to drive high customer ratings and repeat purchases.

Retailers are investing heavily in technologies to support the increasing number of omnichannel customers with services like mobile order ahead and click-and-collect fulfillment. This webinar will focus on how to make these programs work at every store location. Maximizing the ROI on these digital store investments requires the right tools to empower store associates and the right tech to execute and scale these programs.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to avoid store bottlenecks with the rapid growth of mobile order ahead programs.
  • Find out about new tools that empower store associates to gain better visibility into the pickup process and scale order ahead programs.
  • Learn why stores need to invest in new processes and training to meet the expectations of customers and drive repeat sales.

Theatro and Curbside Announce Partnership to Improve the Click and Collect Customer Experience

Theatro to showcase the benefits of the partnership at booth #1121 during NRF Big Show 2018

DALLAS – Jan. 8, 2018Theatro, pioneers of the world’s first intelligent assistant and voice-controlled mobile app platform, today announced a partnership with Curbside, a leading in-store fulfillment solution provider, to improve the ‘click and collect’ customer experience. This partnership will allow retailers to increase the efficiency of in-store pickup of online orders by empowering retail associates with hands-free, real-time communication and insights about consumer orders. Theatro and Curbside will demonstrate the functionality and benefits of the partnership in booth #1121 at the NRF Big Show 2018 in New York City, Jan. 14-16, 2018.

“To meet the growing demands of today’s customers, in-store services such as click and collect must be as frictionless and efficient as possible,” said Chris Todd, CEO of Theatro. “By partnering with Curbside, we are combining hands-free mobile and voice technologies with real-time operations information to optimize omnichannel retail. This creates a truly fluid experience that enriches the shopping journey for everyone.”

How it works: When a customer order is received through a retailer’s order management system, Theatro’s voice-enabled intelligent assistant will immediately notify associates directly in their ear that an omnichannel order has been received – guiding the associates through picking and fulfilling the order. The associates can instantly confirm who will manage the task, identify the matching order and its location in the store and stage the product(s) for pick up. Through integration with Curbside’s location technology, ARRIVE, Theatro notifies the associate with a proximity alert when a click and collect customer is on the way, allowing the associate to stage the item at the front end, and again notifies the associate when the customer has arrived. Upon arrival, the right associate is assigned to greet the customer and offer cross-sell items to complement their purchase. This creates a streamlined omnichannel fulfillment process for the associate and a personalized and frictionless click and collect experience for the customer.

“The physical store is rapidly changing as consumer expectations for omnichannel execution increase and retailers rising to the challenge are rewarded,” said Jaron Waldman, founder and CEO, Curbside. “By integrating the notifications from our ARRIVE product into their voice platform, Theatro is enabling efficient pickups and personal engagements with order-ahead customers who seek an elevated experience.”

Theatro will lead demonstrations throughout the NRF Big Show in Booth #1121, Jan. 14-16 at the Javits Center in NYC.

About Curbside
Curbside, a Silicon Valley startup, connects stores and restaurants with mobile customers.  The solution makes ordering ahead and picking up merchandise or food easy and efficient. Founded by former Apple experts in location services in 2013, Curbside works with leading retailers such as CVS, Nordstrom and Sephora, and leading restaurant chains such as Chipotle, Pizza Hut and Boston Market to scale their order ahead programs. The company is enabling the rapid growth of Curbside pickup programs globally. Curbside recently announced a public SDK for ARRIVE, its predictive arrival technology already downloaded onto millions of consumer smartphones, so that global app developers could take their customer experiences to new levels.

About Theatro
Theatro, based in Dallas, Texas, brings the advantages of IoT, wearables, and new workforce-optimized apps together in a SaaS offering to provide companies in retail, hospitality and manufacturing with a new breed of mobile solutions for hourly employees. The Theatro intelligent assistant and voice-controlled mobile apps connect hourly employees to each other and to critical enterprise applications. With Theatro, employees stay focused on the customer, without having to look at a screen to access information. Theatro’s solution enables employees to play their role in providing an incredible customer experience while increasing sales, employee productivity, conversion rates and operational profitability. For more information, visit www.theatro.com/

 

Media Contacts

Greg Earl, Ketner Group PR + Marketing (for Theatro)
greg@ketnergroup.com
512-794-8876

Melinda Hickman, Access Brand Communications (for Curbside)
curbside@accesstheagency.com
415-844-6249

Amazon and Whole Foods partnership

Amazon + Whole Foods: Quick Convenience Coming to a Location Near You

Making local stores shoppable from their digital properties has been a key strategy for retail leaders serving customers who increasingly start their shopping online. With Whole Foods becoming a part of Amazon, connected stores will fast become table stakes in the competitive retail industry. Amazon has long competed on selection, price and logistics. Connected stores with same hour convenience in 450 locations are likely on the way.

The strategy is simple — offer mobile shoppers a quick and convenient way to shop online from local store inventory. Build the experience into a mobile app, often promoted through a loyalty program. Let the store become an efficient pickup point. Promote and reward regular in-store shopping trips. Offer curbside pickup in an hour or less for time-crunched customers who like quick convenience. Retailers like CVS who have established these programs are better prepared to compete with Amazon. They have a head start offering new options that are likely to come to Whole Foods locations in their trading areas.

Amazon has been a tough competitor, but has largely struggled to gain traction with quick convenience. In most markets, Amazon has not been able to offer immediate gratification to the consumer. Amazon has had difficulty fulfilling digital orders in an hour. That is likely to change, if several of the programs currently piloted by Amazon come to Whole Foods locations.

This news is a call to action to refine current order ahead programs or get a branded, connected store program quickly in place. Fortunately, there are best practices, mature technologies and great metrics that allow retailers to scale these programs quickly. The key for the retailer is to choose the experiences that are right for their customers, consistent with their brand and sustainable over time.

At Curbside, we work with retailers and restaurants on digital ordering programs that deliver quick convenience to consumers. We offer a full suite of products, including a white label platform for digital ordering and a pick/pack tool for efficient fulfillment. We connect apps and websites to local stores. We have a passion for developing great new customer experiences for the digital age. With the news today, that digital age is coming more quickly.

Curbside Partners with Yelp Enabling On-the-Go Convenience

As consumer shopping behavior continues to evolve towards mobile, it’s become increasingly important for merchants to connect with their customers where they spend a lot of the time – on their phones on leading digital properties. At Curbside, we build products that bridge the gap between digital and local, making it faster and easier for consumers to find and pick up products at local retail stores and restaurants.

Today, we’re announcing that Curbside has partnered with Yelp to power for the first time ever a feature that will enable consumers to shop within Yelp. They will pick up their items at a local store, within an hour, without ever having to get out of the car. Yelp with Curbside pickup marks a huge opportunity for retailers and restaurants. Local stores can now streamline the shopping experiences for Yelp users by bringing locally available products and promotions into Yelp and offering a quick pick-up experience which is so convenient for today’s busy consumers. Yelp wants to expand its deep local connections to more restaurant locations and to traditional retail stores.

The functionality will expand nationwide to thousands of CVSs across the United States where Curbside pickup is already available. This partnership will now provide CVS customers with another convenient way to buy and pick up their products on the go through an app they already use to connect with great local businesses. We’ll also be adding additional retailers and businesses, including Pizza Hut, which is currently live in select markets and will be expanding in the coming months.

At Curbside, we know that retailers and restaurants focus a lot of resources to bring consumers to their properties. We want to offer a way for local merchants to extend their offerings into digital properties like Yelp, where consumers already are spending a great deal of their screen time. This is the beginning of a number of partnerships that will help retailers and restaurants reach customers on any mobile device, however they prefer to shop.

Jaron Waldman, Co-founder and CEO

Curbside Pickup Now Available at Pizza Hut

We’re excited to announce that Curbside pickup is now available at Pizza Hut. Order your pizzas online or from the Curbside mobile app and pick them up at the curb. Try it today and for a limited time get a large Pepperoni Pizza for only $7.99!

 

The pilot is currently available at seven Pizza Hut locations in the San Francisco Bay area.

 

5475 Snell Ave, San Jose, CA 95123

226 W Alma Ave, San Jose, CA 95110

199 Race St, San Jose, CA 95126

1167 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

600 Whipple Ave, Redwood City, CA 94063

553 El Camino Real, South San Francisco, CA 94080

1199 West A Street, Hayward, CA 94541

Shoppers are Moving Online and Away from Stores

During the 2016 Black Friday weekend, 10 million more Americans shopped online than the year before. The record-breaking shopping spree generated $3 billion in online sales with more than $1 billion through mobile. And store foot traffic suffered as a result, “overall for the month of December, store traffic was down 13.4 percent, with corresponding decline in sales of 10.7 percent. The result of the 2016 holiday shopping season as a whole was that online sales completed on smartphones reached an all-time high, increasing 23% over 2015 mobile sales.

With the seismic shifts taking place in consumer shopping habits, it’s imperative that retailers evolve their offerings to provide shoppers with what they need, when they need it. While investing in online offerings could be seen as a direct threat to in-store sales, the opposite is actually true: investing in transparent inventory, operational success and seamless fulfillment will improve the customer omni-channel experience.

We recommend the following immediate steps for retailers to achieve omni-channel success:

Invest in accurate, real-time inventory management across all stores and channels.  Accurately knowing what items are on the shelf will allow retailers to unlock inventory for local shoppers to find and buy online and from their mobile devices. Querying inventory across thousands of SKUs at hundreds of stores at scale is a difficult technical problem.  Partnering with technologies that analyze and predict draw-down patterns while incorporating real-time store employee feedback will give your customers confidence that the item they select will be in stock at their local store when they arrive.

Reorient and train staff to fill orders quickly using pick-and-pack technology to prepare items for pickup. By empowering their workforce with flexible tools to fill online orders, retailers can recapture shoppers that have moved from in-store shopping to online.

Building the “Connected Store” is The Future of Retail

The future of retail is in creating the “connected store” – a reimagined hybrid store/fulfillment center that blends the digital and physical in a shopping experience that meets the needs of shoppers’ hectic, on-the-go lifestyle. That means having a mobile shopping experience with a seamless, one-click checkout and instantaneous fulfillment. It means getting shoppers what they want, when they want it. The opportunity cost of not being omni-channel today, according to research in the 2015 RIS/EKN Customer Engagement Tech Trends Study, is 10% in lost revenue.

Connected retail isn’t just a set of random point solutions, such as an improved mobile app. It’s having an integrated connected system with two seamless touchpoints – perfect online and in-store experiences for shoppers.

The Curbside platform is built from the ground up to provide four foundational pieces needed to connect a network of retail stores. Retailers can choose just the pieces they need or opt for the entire solution to move quickly on lighting up siloed brick and mortar locations.

  1. Inventory. Curbside helps retailers tackle the difficulty of knowing what is available in-store with its predictive inventory search capabilities.
  2. Knowing the Shopper is Coming. Curbside enables reliable, delightful curbside pickup experiences by leveraging the shopper’s smartphone to notify store associates when they approach.
  3. Pick and Pack. Curbside builds best-in-breed tools for store associates to fill orders in the store.
  4. E-commerce. Curbside powers a seamless shopping experience for retailers’ web and mobile apps, making brick and mortar stores available to online shoppers.

Click and collect is a key survival tool for retailers to capitalize on their biggest strength. For more information on how Curbside works and how it’s powering the future of retail, contact us here or at sales@curbside.com.

Download the full whitepaper here.