As shoppers and retailers alike prepare for the upcoming holiday season, a new mobile application is aiming to make curbside pickup more accessible than ever. Citrus, which launched this week, automates the curbside process for smaller businesses so that consumers experience a smoother purchase pickup, while retailers are given greater support.
Curbside pickup is not new, but it has been adopted at greater scale in 2020, as the pandemic halted regular store operations. It has been a useful solution for retailers trying to bridge the gap between their on- and offline presence and has also helped retailers leverage their store inventory, while the stores themselves may be shut. For shoppers, the experience combines the convenience of buying online with the speed of same-day acquisition.
But while simple in theory, the execution can prove challenging, especially for smaller retailers or businesses operating at reduced capacity. Without a clear system in place, pickups can take too long – eliminating the convenience factor – or require substantial customer service support, which undermines the benefit of a no-contact pickup. And this is likely to be exacerbated during the holidays.
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“Today’s curbside pick-up logistics are inefficient and disorganized,” said Menish Gupta, CEO at Citrus. “Customers are often left waiting in long lines or sitting in their cars wondering if anyone knows they are there. What’s worse is many small retailers are already at a greater disadvantage due to COVID-19 and can’t offer streamlined curbside pickup because it’s too difficult or costly to build.”
Citrus provides a channel through which both consumers and merchants can gain greater visibility into the process. When a customer makes a purchase at a participating retailer and selects curbside pickup, they are able to sign up or use their free Citrus account to manage the delivery process; merchants pay a flat fee per transaction, capped under $1. While the consumer app is mobile-only, merchants can use the system on desktop as well as mobile.
After a Citrus pickup has been initiated, a notification alerts the shopper when the order is ready. When they are ready to pick it up, they press the “On My Way” button to alert the merchant that they are leaving. The application uses geolocation services, tied to the user’s mobile, to estimate their arrival time at the retailer; this allows the merchant to more efficiently prepare the pickup.
The shopper also provides a vehicle registration number with their account, which can be updated at any time, so that retail associates can locate and confirm the shopper without any personal interaction. Purchases are loaded directly into the consumer’s car, with no need for additional alerts or messaging.
“Curbside pickup has emerged as a vital category during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rick Arturo, CRO at Citrus. “But the experience is inconsistent and often chaotic. Given the convenience and safety that it can offer, done properly, curbside pickup is only going to expand and is here to stay. Our mission is to make it streamlined and affordable for all.”
The introduction of the Citrus application comes just in time for the holiday season. A recent study by BlackFriday.com found that 50% of consumers intend to use curbside pickup more this holiday season than in previous years. With many shoppers still concerned about the safety of in-store shopping, offering curbside pickup could help retailers capture these customers who need same-day items but want to keep their distance.