Curbside's 'ARRIVE' SDK Lets Retailers More Accurately Predict Customer Arrivals

How do you think your customers would respond if their dressing room were ready the moment they walked in the door, or their food order were ready for a lightning quick handoff?

Many businesses live and die by customer service, particularly those that operate retail or food prep establishments. When orders aren't ready on time, customers will let you know it. Imagine how your business could improve if you better knew when your customers were about to arrive? Curbside believes its new ARRIVE SDK will provide exactly that insight.

ARRIVE, which is already running on millions of smartphones, is meant to help bridge the gap between mobile devices and brick-and-mortar retail spaces. It is able to gather information from customer devices -- chiefly location -- and send it to the cloud where it is processed and delivered to your business's backend for improving customer service. Importantly, ARRIVE is able to do this without draining end users' smartphone batteries while providing just-in-time data about customers' impending arrival.

Beacons and GPS are already able to provide this information, but do so unreliably. Bluetooth beacons can connect to consumer devices and provide fine-tuned location data. There's a catch: as many as 40% of smartphone owners turn off their device's Bluetooth radio, which completely negates the usefulness of beacons. Even when Bluetooth is active, beacons have a somewhat high failure rate, according to Curbside. On the flip side, GPS and geofencing are radius-based. Businesses that set the radius too large may see false alerts when customers simply wander through the geofenced area. If the radius is set too small, the alert may not arrive until after the customers has already walked into the building.

"We've got an SDK that can connect retailers with customers' mobile apps to better predict arrival data," explained Curbside CEO Jaron Waldman.

The challenge is that if ARRIVE fired up the GPS radio like a navigation app, it would drain consumers' batteries rapidly. The SDK has to be non-invasive when it comes to the battery. The technology Curbside developed knows when to take readings off the device, stream it back to the cloud, and analyze it while being smart about how and when.

"It provides notifications every single time a customer approaches thanks to GPS coordinates and other data," said Waldman. "We are matching patterns of arrival based on customer trip detections."

Waldman sees the SDK assisting two core sets of businesses: high-end retailers, such as early adopters Nordstrom and Sephora, and high-volume joints such as Pizza Hut, CVS, and Chipotle.

"Higher-end brands are interested in using technology to scale customer experiences," says Waldman. Nordstrom, for example, will use the ARRIVE SDK in its mobile app to help retail locations prepare clothes for fittings and then ensure a fitting room is ready when the customer walks in the door.

There's room for the ARRIVE SDK during more mundane activities, such as picking up a pizza or prescription. When built into mobile apps, the ARRIVE SDK can help retailers fine-tune their preparation services so food or other items are ready for pickup at the exact moment customers arrive. Saving people time often makes them happy, and helps differentiate businesses from their competitors.

In order for the ARRIVE SDK to work its magic, developers need to put the SDK to work within their mobile app. They can then pair it with a web-based REST API to hook into their point-of-sale system. The API lets businesses initiate trips, stop trips, acknowledge customer orders and deliver push notifications. It can give businesses the status of all inbound trips, as well as inspect and understand the ETA of each trip, something Curbside calls "air traffic control."

Curbside is offering a developer portal and plenty of documentation. Once you sign up for the SDK, you'll have access to tutorials, code samples, dashboards, guides, and a quick-start tutorial all via GitHub (all via Apache license). The SDK itself is available for Android and through a Cocoa Pod for iOS.

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Google Loads Android 8.1 With New APIs