For many consumers, prior to COVID-19, “curbside pickup” was just a phrase they saw on signage advertised around their store or in email blasts, but with social distancing, it’s becoming an entry point for new consumers — and businesses too.
Savvy shoppers have been leveraging curbside pickup at Kroger, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart and other retailers for some time. It’s a business that was seeing an uptick, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. New York investment firm Cowen published a report last year called “Curbside, Connected & Robotic Retail Revolution,” in which it predicted that nearly a quarter of consumers would be using curbside pickup and estimated that Walmart’s service would grow to be a $35 billion business this year.
With Americans practicing social distancing, it would be very interesting to see how those estimates have changed. The advantage to curbside during this crisis is that the consumer obviously doesn’t need to leave his car — order online, call when arrived, show receipt via phone, pop a trunk and items get loaded.
Delivery is certainly seeing an uptick too, with retailers and services practicing contactless delivery, but curbside is a service consumers likely hadn’t tried before the pandemic (including myself).