Pickup app Curbside has expanded its service to the New York metro area and Los Angeles in addition to San Francisco, and has set up its first updated “pickup pod” location with a color-coded light post that alerts shoppers when and where their items can be gathered up.
The pod concept – which matches a color on the shopper’s phone to a light atop the Curbside location – is being tested out at the Galleria mall in Glendale, CA, outside Los Angeles. The company hopes to roll it out at other locations. The idea is not just alerting and direct shoppers, but to have an installation that looks more permanent and durable than the existing tent-like structures.
“The branding is now where we want it to be,” said Curbside founder and CEO Jarod Waldman. “The tents looked temporary and gave the impression it was a service that may go away. Also they looked like they could blow over in the wind.”
In the New York area, Curbside has expanded to 10 Target stores, 7 in northern New Jersey and one each in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. After launching last October in California, it is now at 11 Target stores and four Best Buy locations in the Bay area. In addition to the Los Angeles mall, it is at the Westfield Oakridge mall in San Jose, CA. The company says it has 20 mall-based retail partners signed up to date, without disclosing other names.
Customers select a store location via the Curbside app, search for and purchase items and choose the pickup option. Curbside employees act as runners and staffers at the pickup location, although that’s slowing transitioning to Target workers at the New York locations. The entire process takes about an hour to fulfill.
Waldman said the company is seeing 60% of customers who use the service coming back for more. “I take that as an indicator that they love the service,” Waldman said. “And once they repeat the percentage of third-time use increases. That says to us they’re making it part of their lifestyle.”
He said Curbside has seen sustained 50% month-over-month growth in the service, “and that’s without the New York and Los Angeles rollouts, so we think those markets are going to be multipliers on that.” While expansion minded, Waldman said that might not happen until early 2016, after the holiday shopping season dies down.
The new pickup pod is designed to carry a store’s logo as well. Waldman said some mall operators are interested in having more than one pickup location per property, especially at larger malls, but he’s concerned that could cause confusion for shoppers.
“It could be tricky if there are two of them, and people might come to the wrong place,” he said. “But some of these malls are huge. The app gives you driving directions, but not everyone use the navigation feature; they just know the mall and drive in.”
Unlike same-day delivery services that target urban areas, Walman said suburbs with heavy commuter populations are the sweet spot for Curbside. “We like areas where people drive a lot, and we’ve done very well in San Francisco with that concept,” he said. “We’re following a different pattern, filling in commuting areas quickly.”
Last year, Sears began offering a curbside service for purchase pickups, returns and exchanges.