Curbside streamlines the shopping experience



It’s like a drive-through for retail stores.

At least that’s the vision of Jaron Waldman and Denis Laprise, the co-founders of Curbside. “We both dreamt of being able to find and buy the products we needed from local stores from smartphones and having them available instantly for local pickup without finding items on shelves or waiting in checkout lines,” Waldman, who is also Curbside’s CEO, told Opportunity Lives.

Curbside could be the future of shopping. The company works with local retailers to set up a tent outside the storefront. After placing an order at the retailer from the Curbside mobile app, a customer needs only to stop by the Curbside tent on the same day. A Curbside employee will place the items right in the car, and the customer can go on their way in just a few seconds. (There is a demo available in a promotional video.)

The best part? There’s no markup for customers. Curbside generates revenue by charging retailers a customer acquisition fee. The idea is that offering the Curbside same-day pickup option will help retailers outcompete their rivals.

Consumers benefit by paying the same price for something they would pay in the store – but without the hassle of looking for parking, walking through the aisles, or waiting in a checkout line. Credit cards are charged automatically by the app, and an order is typically ready for pickup in 30 minutes to an hour!

Though Curbside is currently only offered in the San Francisco area (primarily with a test of Target stores), the company could expand soon depending on how popular it becomes. “We’ve seen strong interest from a number of national and local retailers – we anticipate many retailers will be interested in working with Curbside as we continue to grow and expand,” said Waldman.

One of the challenges for Curbside is working with the inventory systems of the retailers to ensure accurate items are listed on the app. That’s where the co-founders’ technology experience comes in handy. “Being able to keep tabs on what’s available inside the store at major retailers like Target is a big challenge, as was finding a way to ensure we give retailers a reliable heads up that a customer is on approach without draining the customer’s battery,” said Waldman. The company is handling hundreds of orders daily and seeing good signs as far as customer retention.

But another challenge will be competing with the retailers themselves. Several grocery stores are testing their own versions of curbside pickup (though not necessarily with a mobile app and sometimes with a pickup fee).

Curbside is clearly changing the way we think about shopping, and it will be exciting to watch what comes next.

Waldman’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to be selective about who you choose to work with at the beginning of your business – investors, customers, partners, and employees. “These early decisions will have a huge impact on the direction of your business,” he said.

Published on Opportunity Lives