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The GMTs: 5 Best-in-Class Curbside Pickup Brands We Love

We’ve put together a list of the top five best-in-class Curbside Pickup brands we love, learn why we think they excel at Curbside Pickup!

Curbside Pickup designated parking sign

Since the impact of COVID-19, Curbside Pickup has really amped up its game and popularity amongst customers. Consumers love Curbside Pickup because of its stress-free shopping experience that limits the need for in-person visits. There are many benefits that come along with Curbside Pickup for both shippers and consumers, including reduced shipping costs, more inventory management visibility, real-time order confirmation, and faster delivery – which may all also lead to increased sales. And the ultimate consumer perk: you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own car, dramatically reducing shopping time! Today, Curbside consumers have a whole host of stores to shop from, because the majority of large brands now offer curbside pickup. But not all of them do it as well as five companies that have captured our attention for consistently creating an amazing Curbside Pickup experience. Let’s dig into these five brands, as well as why they’re Curbside Pickup execution stands out from all the others. 

1. Target

At this point what can’t Target do well? This company is always one step ahead. In 2018, Target started its first ever Drive Up service that then expanded into Same-Day Curbside Pickup service in all 50 states by 2019. People love the time they save with Curbside Pickup. This can be seen in 2020, when Target’s Same-Day services increased more than 200% – increasing sales to $1B. The company attributes roughly $700M of that $1B to its Drive Up services, which increased to 500% compared to the year before. Target has benefitted greatly from its Drive Up service and no doubt will only continue to improve. Target’s CEO Brian Cornell said, “These services are fast, convenient, reliable and contactless, which explains why they continue to generate very high levels of guest satisfaction.” Using the Drive Up service, there are four easy steps to follow: shop online, submit your order, tell Target you’re on the way using the accompanying Target store app, and finally park curbside and receive all the products you might normally spend hours shopping for in just minutes. If you are using the accompanying Targt store app, there’s not even a need to let the store know you’ve parked. The app takes care of notifying Target’s Drive Up service team that you’re waiting outside. It’s no wonder customers say they tend to save a lot more money using Curbside Pickup, because it prevents them from wandering aisles buying items they didn’t originally plan on buying.

Why We Love It

Target’s Drive Up service is available to both online and mobile device shoppers. Overall the process is highly efficient (minimal steps), and instructions are clear from the online cart all the way to the designated Drive Up signs in the store parking lot. Inventory management is clearly a point of pride for the company, as it’s easy to identify what’s available at the store – or stores – nearest you, and mobile users receive the benefit of geolocation sharing, which notifies Target stores when you’re parked outside waiting for Curbside Pickup. All these features combined create a truly unique and best-in-class Curbside Pickup experience. Learn more about Target’s Drive Up service.

2. Ulta Beauty

Ulta Beauty put into place Curbside Pickup on April 19, 2020, with a few special features, including Curbside Pickup customer alert notifications, new Curbside Pickup signage with dedicated parking lot spaces, and expanded its store locator functionality. The pickup service is as easy as shopping online and choosing the best pickup location for you, then simply drive up to the store entrance or designated parking space, call the number you received in the confirmation email after ordering, and an Ulta employee will bring your products to your car. This is one convenient and fast no-contact shopping experience, and a big plus here is no minimum purchase amount. The Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon said, “The Curbside Pickup offering is an extension of our already popular Buy Online Pickup in Store service, so guests who have used that service will find the process familiar. This new, convenient option is meant to deliver beauty essentials as easily and safely as possible in these markets right now.”

Why We Love It

In a relatively short timeframe, Ulta Beauty managed to quickly adapt its already popular Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) program into a flourishing Curbside Pickup program, touting many of the same convenient benefits of the former. What we love most about this brand’s execution is its clear communication. As a consumer, the inventory of any store near you is available, and the order confirmation sets a solid foundation for what to expect (or do) next. Many of BOPIS and Curbside Pickup programs fail because instructions simply aren’t clear, whether too little or too much information is provided. Ulta Beauty’s clearly learned from mistakes by such brands, learn more about Ulta’s pickup service.

3. Nordstrom 

Nordstrom introduced online order pickup at U.S. stores for Nordstrom.com, NordstromRack.com, and HauteLook.com due to the growing demand of BOPIS and Curbside Pickup. This retailer’s Curbside service adds a whole new level of convenience to your shopping experience, and no more shipping fees! The Nordstrom site lets you shop from all their departments based on the stock they have available near you. Once you’ve set your store location on the Nordstrom website, make sure to hit the “Buy and Pick Up” button when making your purchase. Upon confirmed receipt, head to your designated store and send a text to a number provided in your order confirmation email. “We are excited to expand these services and fulfillment options to our Nordstrom Rack stores,” said Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack. “Our hope is that through the addition of these offerings we will provide customers even greater access to our breadth of inventory and a more convenient and seamless shopping experience however they choose to shop with us.”

Why We Love It

Once again, strong inventory management processes and clear communication make this Curbside Pickup service stand out – Nordstrom’s gone to great lengths to ensure online and mobile shoppers can select from inventory near them for not just one brand, but three of the Nordstrom family brands. Our hat’s go off to Nordstrom, learn more about their Curbside Pickup service.

4. Dollar General 

As the COVID pandemic continued in the fall, Dollar General implemented a brand new Curbside Pickup service. This service can be accessed within the Dollar General app, and it lets consumers shop and purchase the inventory of stores near them. Once a selection is made, you can then select a pickup time convenient for you. Digital Coupons are an added bonus for Curbside shoppers, these coupons are viewable only within the Dollar General app and are easily added to any order with just a tap, making this shopping experience even more convenient and wallet friendly. “In an environment where customers continue to seek safe, familiar, and convenient experiences, we believe our unique footprint combined with our digital assets provides a distinct competitive advantage,” said Vasos, adding the dollar store chain also plans to expand its DG GO! service, which lets shoppers scan products in store and check out within a designated mobile app.

Why We Love It

By some estimates, Dollar General has over 16,000 stores across the U.S., making it a Curbside service no small feat for such a retail giant. Not only is this likely a master class in inventory management best practices, but Dollar General has shown a commitment to its customers by going above and beyond expectations to provide a safe and convenient shopping experience for the customer today. Learn more about the Dollar General’s Curbside Pickup service.

5. Best Buy

Best Buy’s Curbside Pickup program touts three easy steps: select curbside pickup; get ready, get set, go; and drive up, get the goods. Even better, it’s really that simple in practice. Whether you’re using the brand’s online or mobile app store, both use location services to determine the closest store to you. Once you view a product, the store pages highlight whether that product is available near you for Curbside Pickup, subtly helping you make a pickup decision and check out. Once confirmed, follow the simple instructions in your order confirmation email to pick up your order.

Why We Love It

Once again, Best Buy’s Curbside Pickup service follows a critical component: clear and easy-to-follow communication. Inventory is highlighted across their site, and store pages guide you on making the best Curbside pickup decision for you. Not only is this Curbside service available to most of their stores across the U.S., Best Buy also makes it convenient for family members or designated people of your choice to pickup your order for you. Learn more about Best Buy’s Curbside Pickup service.

Great Expectations

With the increased demand for BOPIS and Curbside Pickup, more businesses than ever are making these shopping experiences better and better. In particular, today’s customer loves the easy, fast, and no-contact nature of Curbside Pickup, which also helps reduce overall shopping time and makes it easier to stay on budget without shopping miscellaneous items. And that’s why we selected these five brands as our stand out Curbside Pickup stars:

  1. Target
  2. Ulta Beauty
  3. Nordstrom
  4. Dollar General
  5. Best Buy

The five brands we reviewed above go above and beyond to help customers meet these expectations. But they also share many Curbside Pickup principles in common, such as: utilization of technology for location services or improved online store experiences, clear and easy-to-follow instructions (preferably, three primary steps that are even easier to remember), as well as strong inventory management practices to show customer’s what’s available in stores near them. These principles are grounded in exceptional customer service and prioritize the customer experience above all else. We can’t wait to see how these brands continue to innovate their Curbside programs.

Curbside Pickup designated parking sign

 Written by Allison Carr


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