Curbside pickup may have seemed like a pitstop on the road to a post-pandemic return to normal, but it continues to gain ground as a viable off-premises channel. Popular for its safety and convenience (allowing consumers to leave their homes and consume their food in the safe haven of their homes or cars), curbside pickup is becoming an entrenched pattern of behavior that's likely to continue after the outbreak subsides.
According to the market research firm Technomic, 40% of consumers surveyed have used curbside pickup during the pandemic, and 66% expect to continue using it once dine-in service returns.1 “While curbside pickup may have been introduced as a temporary solution during the pandemic, there is demand for this service long term as consumers become accustomed to it,” Technomic reports.2 As a result, curbside pickup is an area of opportunity for foodservice establishments. “Operators can consider whether or not they plan to offer curbside and, if so, invest in the service.”2
Thirty-four percent of foodservice operators surveyed offer curbside pickup, and 69% plan to continue to offer it.3 Curbside pickup is the second most popular safety measure among Technomic’s survey sampling of consumers. Another 40% reported that when they used curbside pickup, restaurant staff handed the order to them while they remained in their car.4
Curbside Picks Up the Pace
Technomic suggests setting aside parking spaces near entrances and staggering pickup times to increase operational efficiency.2 Other enhancements include mobile apps that collect vehicle or license plate information to ensure orders go to the correct customers; geofencing technology that tracks when customers arrive for pickup; and contactless curbside, in which staffers bring out pre-paid orders directly to the car.2
Findings from Bluedot, a location technology developer for mobile apps, reinforce Technomic’s data about curbside pickup's growing market share. Forty percent of Bluedot survey participants said they've used curbside pickup more than usual (compared with the early days of the pandemic).5 While safety is key, speed of service is also a top priority for consumers. Eighty-three percent feel frustrated waiting 10 minutes or more.6
Major chains are making a dash to add curbside pickup to their off-premises channels. Sandwich giant Subway has rolled out the option via its app and website at 11,000 locations—about half of its restaurants in the U.S.7
The chain explained its curbside program in a statement: “When the guest arrives, parks in the designated curbside parking spot and taps ‘I'm Here’ in the Subway app, a masked and gloved ‘Sandwich Artist’ delivers their order directly to their car.”7 To ensure optimal contactless safety, the order is even sealed with a tamper-proof sticker and delivered on a tray.7
In an accelerated rollout spurred in part by Manhattan dine-in closures and a general lack of foot traffic at urban locations, Shake Shack added curbside pickup to 68 locations earlier this year.8 Approximately one-third of the quick service chain’s app orders at participating locations are for curbside pickup.8
Available through the brand’s app, curbside delivery is a key part of Shake Shack’s strategy to grow digital orders, including in-house delivery, the opening of “Shack Track” stores with convenient walk-up or drive-up service, and a new restaurant format with drive-thru lanes.8
As Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti noted, the restaurant landscape is “forever changed.”8
Fortunately, Mondelēz International Foodservice can help your operation stay ahead of the curve, with culinary creativity and popular brand ingredients to help drive sales off and on premises.
As always, feel free to reach out below with any thoughts or questions you may have about your business or the state of the industry.
1 Delivery & Takeout Consumer Trend Report (Technomic, 2020), p. 18
2 Technomic, p. 19
3 Technomic, p. 96
4 Technomic, p. 98
5 The State of What Feeds Us (Bluedot, 2020), p. 6
6 Bluedot, p. 14
7 Ruggless, Ron, “Subway rolls out Contactless Curbside pickup,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 25, 2020
8 Luna, Nancy, “Shake Shack adds curbside pickup to 68 locations,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Sept. 16, 2020