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

 

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.

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.

 

 

Surviving in the Age of Amazon

Amazon dominates online sales

In 2016, Amazon accounted for 55% of product searches and 53% of e-commerce growth.

Amazon is also aggressively optimizing home delivery, reducing wait times, as well as high shipping costs by doubling down on their investments in fulfillment centers.

Matching the billions of dollars of investment in fulfillment centers is likely impossible even for the largest brick-and-mortar retailers.  So how can retailers stave off potential extinction in a world where most consumers are starting their shopping journey online? It starts with something that frequently has been identified as a weakness of traditional retail, physical stores themselves.

 

Connect Your Stores to Mobile

Decades of investments in physical store locations located along the corridors on which we live, work and travel provide brick-and-mortar retailers the right strategic points of presence to meet consumers online and fulfill quickly using them as forward-deployed “fulfillment centers”. However, retailers’ stores have not yet been connected to good online experiences. Omni-channel and flexible fulfillment efforts across the retail landscape have been weak, leveraging technology platforms that were not designed for fulfillment from stores.  Consumers need seamless online experiences, paired with flawless execution at the physical store.

The clock is ticking for retailers to capitalize on their their physical stores.  For more information on how Curbside works and how it’s powering the future of retail, contact us and read the full white paper now.

 

Consumer Habits And The Retail Landscape Are Changing

Across most retail verticals, the long term viability of physical stores is being called into question. In 2016, a comScore/UPS study marked the first time consumers made more of their purchases — 51% — online than in stores, a number that will only continue to rise. Consumers are increasingly starting their shopping journey online, and at the same time are  mobile, on-the-go, and seeking instant gratification. Delivery times, a source of friction for consumers that shop online, are now dropping down to just 1 to 2 days or less as Amazon has led the charge in providing the most cost-effective and convenient way for consumers to get everything they need.

Retailers must evolve to meet the changing demands of consumers and they need to do it fast because Amazon is accelerating their domination of the online channel, where most consumers begin their shopping journey.  

To get this right, brick-and-mortar retailers must:

  • Be fast. Quickly put in place a core set of capabilities that deliver convenient, frictionless online shopping experiences around local stores.
  • Be future-focused. Go on the offensive by leveraging their proximity to shoppers,  having their order ready, ideally in under 30 minutes, a feat even Amazon struggles to match in a cost-effective way.
  • Be dedicated. Conduct fulfillment at local stores flawlessly, using a set of highly efficient software tools.   

For more information on how Curbside works and how it’s powering the future of retail, contact us. To learn more about how retailers can compete in the Age of Amazon, sign up now to read the white paper “Click and Collect: Not if, but when and how.”

Curbside at National Merchant Day in NYC

New York City, NY. – February 16, 2017 – Curbside, reinventing the local shopping experience for the era of instant mobile commerce, will participate in National Merchant Day, hosted by PYMNTS.com. Showcasing Arrive™, Curbside’s arrival detection software, retailers can reliably be notified when shoppers are on approach, enabling a quick and efficient pickup experience for millions of products across thousands of retail locations.

Jaron Waldman, CEO and Co-Founder, will take the main stage Thursday, February 16, 3:05pm to discuss the future of brick-and-mortar stores and instant mobile gratification to convert shoppers into buyers. NMD attendee’s get 50% off Curbside’s platform free for 3 months. Visit us at our booth to learn more.

Delivered with Uber

Curbside offers retailers the option to integrate Delivery with Uber through our platform. By doing so, retailers can offer their brick and mortar stores an efficient and cost effective way to provide same-day delivery options to customers without the overhead costs. Now you can meet the demands of your customers where and when it’s most convenient for them.

Curbside has teamed up with Uber to make delivery from local retailers quick and easy.

  1. Shoppers can order everything they need from local stores, either online, through the free Curbside app, or through a custom white label shopping solution.
  1. The shopper can choose from Curbside pickup or Delivery with Uber at checkout. The order will be prepared and delivered within 3 hours after being placed.
  1. When the delivery is on its way, Curbside sends a link to track the order and will let the customer know as soon as the delivery arrives.

Delivery with Uber is available on the Curbside platform. To find out how to add delivery to your locations, contact us and try the service out at a store near you.

How Retailers Need to Compete in the Age of Amazon

Across retail, the long term viability of having physical stores is in doubt. But that’s the potential reality in this age of the mobile shopper. Retailers must evolve fast to meet the changing demands of consumers or risk losing them. Consumers are increasingly shopping with e-commerce giants like Amazon and want instant fulfillment. Curbside CEO, Jaron Waldman, explains how retailers need to compete or risk losing foot traffic in coming quarters. Curbside was selected by Forrester as a “Top 20 Startup Retail Execs Should Know in 2016.” Contact us now to learn more and request Curbside’s white paper.