Target confirmed to Consumerist that it’s ending its curbside pickup pilot June 15.
Target partnered with startup Curbside to test out the service, which launched in October 2014 in 121 stores across the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
The retailer told Consumerist that it is focusing instead on “retail fundamentals” and other tech initiatives that are experiencing greater success, like its Cartwheel mobile application and other buy-online, pickup-in-store omnichannel services.
Target offered few details on its decision to halt the curbside pilot, and the timing is surprising given that in an interview just last month with Re/Code, newly arrived Target Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldberger pointed to the curbside experiment as a key omnichannel effort, noting that "Digital is a fairly small percentage of the business, but it’s a big chunk of the growth. It drives more commerce than just the numbers you're giving.”
In a recent interview with Retail Dive, Jaron Waldman—co-founder and CEO of Curbside, which provides customer-arrival detection software, inventory management tools and other white-label for partners including Target as well as CVS—said that curbside pickup has great potential in the U.S. More potential, in fact, than same-day delivery, which garners a lot of press despite the fact that it’s largely relegated to large urban centers.
“We think, in the mainstream, people want the convenience as they’re driving around,” Waldman told Retail Dive. “Stores are located in these corridors that we drive anyway. Plus, curbside pickup usually is free—that’s a win, and a much bigger opportunity than same-day delivery.”
But from a brick-and-mortar retail perspective, making it easy for customers to stay in their cars certainly seems counterintuitive. After all, 84% of Americans say they made an impulse buy last year, according to a recent survey from CreditCards.com, up from 75% in 2014. And while mobile applications and social media would seem to encourage impulsive behavior, buying on a whim is still most likely to happen in a physical store: 79% of snap purchases take place under a store roof, compared to just 6% on mobile devices.
"Retailers need to have a clear vision of what click-and-collect is to them, because otherwise they take the risk of shooting themselves," Adrien Nussenbaum, marketplace platform startup Mirakl's U.S. CEO and co-founder, recently told Retail Dive. "Selling a service that tells people 'You don’t need to come into my stores,' while at the same time defending the store model, is a bit schizophrenic. Click-and-collect should be one delivery option amongst all delivery options."
Retailers also must realize that it's first and foremost a customer-facing option, Nussenbaum contends. "Click-and-collect will never be successful if it’s driven by financial priorities on the retailer side," he said.