Curbside Pickup: Why Brands Need it & How to Get Started

Curbside pickup has seen huge demand in recent years. What became a necessity during the Covid-19 pandemic is now a convenience that consumers don’t want to give up. But what exactly is it? How does it work? And how can you get started with offering the service? 

This article will tell you everything you need to know, along with advice about how to implement seamless curbside pickups with the PlotProjects SDK.

Curbside pickup in action at Panera Bread

What is curbside pickup?

Curbside pickup is a service that lets customers place an order online or via a mobile app for pickup at a local store. It’s similar to click & collect or BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store) except the customer doesn’t need to leave the car. When they arrive, staff are instantly alerted and can promptly deliver the order carside to the customer.

What is the difference between curbside and pickup?

The difference between curbside and pickup is that with curbside pickup the customer doesn’t need to leave the car, whereas regular pickup usually involves the customer having to go in-store to collect their order. Sometimes this means waiting in a long ‘online order’ or ‘mobile order’ queue.

A perfect curbside pickup experience is one that ensures convenience for customers. The customer drives to the store where a store employee is waiting in a designated area to hand over the order. There’s no having to call, text or go in-store to alert staff of their arrival, customers simply drive up, and go. 

The growth of curbside pickup, click & collect and BOPIS 

In the post-pandemic world, consumers are shopping differently to how they did in the past. According to consumer shopping statistics, a whopping 87% of consumers think brands should continue to offer options for things like curbside pickup that limit the need for in-store visits.

As such, businesses are adapting their operations, with many big brands rolling out convenient services such as curbside or carside pickup, click & collect and buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS). But pandemic aside, these services were already gaining demand.

Why? Well firstly, they’re quicker. Consumers don’t want to wait around. They expect to receive their orders as soon as possible. Secondly, delivery is guaranteed. Customers don’t want to miss deliveries or be stuck trying to re-arrange shipping. They just want to make sure they get their orders! 

With curbside pickup, click & collect and buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS), consumers can bypass a whole host of problems. There’s no standing around or waiting in lines. No having to have person-to-person contact. No expensive delivery costs. In fact, more than 90% of those who’ve tried it say curbside pickup is more convenient.

Mobile app powered with geofencing for curbside pickup

How does curbside pickup work?

Curbside pickup works via an app powered by geofencing for location detection. Geofences create a digital boundary around a specific location that allows operators to know when a customer with their mobile app crosses that boundary. 

The way geofencing works in curbside pickup is that it makes it possible for retailers and restaurants to detect when customers arrive for pickup, pull into a drive-thru or even arrive for in-store pickup. Employees are automatically alerted when the customer arrives and are able to facilitate a quick and seamless carside delivery. 

For curbside pickup to work, a customer must download a retailer’s app and opt-in to share their location. When they’ve opted in and turned their location services on, geofencing will allow retailers to monitor their location to the precise moment that they arrive, or even when they’re on their way.

Businesses can also use geofencing to send welcome messages, order updates and location-based promotions and rewards.

Geofencing also makes it possible to monitor each stage of the customer’s ordering process from start to finish, as well as tracking dwell time, visit history and more.

While some app users might be hesitant about sharing their location, many find that it’s worth it for the convenience of a quick, easy and convenient curbside pickup. To encourage your app users to opt-in, you should explain the added value of location data for user experience.

What are the benefits of curbside pickup?

In the post-Covid era, it’s easy to see why contactless pickup is a better and safer option. However, it remains an increasingly popular trend. Here’s a look at some of the many benefits of curbside pickup for retailers, restaurants and consumers.

Benefits for retailers

Retailers can create a hassle-free curbside experience for their customers by using geofencing to automate every step of the process. Here are just a few of the many benefits:

  • Track customer arrival times
  • Send customers a welcome message on arrival 
  • Ensure orders and packed and ready in time
  • Staff are automatically alerted upon customer arrival
  • Minimized contact between staff and customers 
  • Smaller queues in-store
  • Customers likely to place larger orders for curbside pickup
  • Improved customer loyalty 
  • Requires fewer resources than delivery
  • Can be launched quickly. No hardware required
  • Turn empty parking spaces into extra revenue channels 

Benefits for restaurants

Also known as ‘mobile order drive-thru’, curbside pickup lets restaurants have fresh food ready for collection at an assigned time. Thanks to geofencing, it’s also possible to track how far away a customer is and start preparing food in time for their arrival. 

  • Understand when customers are approaching or when they’ve arrived
  • Serve freshly prepared food. No stale or spoiled items
  • Employees are alerted as customers approach the restaurant
  • Serve more people with less waiting
  • Smaller queues at the order window
  • Contactless mobile order drive-thru experience
  • Restaurants can use location data to track peak times and improve operational efficiency
  • No check-ins needed. Customers order, collect and go.
  • Send welcome notifications and other promotional messages to customers
  • Easy and cost-effective to implement

Benefits for consumers 

Curbside pickup allows customers to order and pickup curbside easily, conveniently and safely. By using the service, customers can receive their order as soon as possible, at a time and location they choose, without having to wait for delivery or go shopping in-store. With geofencing that detects customer arrival, all the customer has to do is place an order, drive up on time and go.

  • A seamless, time-saving experience
  • No additional costs
  • Minimized contact or queuing 
  • No need to leave the car, ideal in bad weather or for parents with kids
  • Time saving for customers in a hurry 
  • Benefit from welcome and promotional notifications 
  • Minimized waiting time 
  • Convenient shopping and drive-thru experiences
  • Location based rewards and loyalty points
  • Easier to do big orders

Stores with curbside pickup, BOPIS and click & collect

There are so many stores with curbside pickup that it would be impossible to mention them all, however here are some of the big brands and stores with curbside, BOPIS and click & collect options.

  • Apple
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Walgreens
  • Panera Bread
  • Nordstrom
  • Tiffany & Co
  • Taco Bell, Wendy’s Burger King & Shake Shack
  • ALDI, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Asda, Morrisons
  • ASOS, Amazon
Curbside pickup at Nordstrom

Optimize your curbside pickups with PlotProjects

Now is the time to get started with curbside pickup if you haven’t already. Here’s a look at the best features and tools to build your campaigns and delight your customers.

Accuracy & battery efficiency

Some geofencing companies only offer accuracy down to 100 meters, and their solutions rely on battery draining GPS. At PlotProjects, we have complex algorithms in place to ensure the perfect balance between accuracy and battery efficiency. Our geofencing plugin doesn’t rely on GPS and we offer precise accuracy down to 10 meters, just in time for your customer’s arrival.

Unlimited & scalable geofences

Easily build unlimited geofences, helping you bypass the limitations of other geofencing providers. You can also build scalable campaigns, with geofences that range from 50m to 50,000m

No hardware & easy to implement

No costly hardware required. Our easy-to-implement solution is cost-effective and easy to roll out across your existing digital infrastructure.

Support for beacons

Add another level of accuracy with improved beacon detection to alert employees exactly when a customer arrives and exactly where they’re parked.

Advanced analytics & reporting

Optimize your geofence campaigns by keeping track of all performance metrics. See dwell time, visit history, create user profiles, do A/B testing and use heatmaps to understand user behavior and optimize your curbside pickups.

A suite of tools

Use Geotrigger Handler to detect when a customer is a certain distance away to get the order ready and detect when the customer parks. While Activity Monitor includes start and stop detection for detecting when a customer starts and stops driving in real-time.

Location-based notifications

Send welcome messages, order updates, loyalty points and notifications about deals and discounts. With our ‘Cooldown’ feature and other anti-spam tools, you’ll avoid spamming your customers with too many notifications.

Location data

Geofencing in your apps makes a wealth of valuable location data available. Gather valuable insights about your app users’ behaviour, surroundings and context which can help you build and adapt your location marketing campaigns.

PlotProjects geofencing SDK

Get started with curbside pickup

Ready to get started? Powering your app with location-based technology is a powerful and cost-effective way to optimize your curbside pickups. If you need help getting started or if you want to find out more about how our platform can drive results for your business, contact PlotProjects today.

You can try our demo app for free, or download one of our customer’s apps to see how it works. Don’t have an app? No problem. We can create a custom geofencing app using the PlotProjects technology.

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