5 Curbside Pickup Solutions for Retailers to Use During Covid-19

Curbside pickup isn’t just a win from a public health perspective; it also gives stores an additional lifeline as they look for ways to sell products without violating physical distancing guidelines. What’s more, the trend may stick, bringing additional retailers into the process and boosting customer adoption even after social distancing subsides.

These are five technology companies offering platforms and tools that retailers can use to implement curbside pickup during the Covid-19 crisis.

Local Businesses Lean Heavily on Digital Tools During Covid-19

Digital platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Yelp, and Twitter have never been more important for local businesses. With 80% of customers saying they are scaling down their restaurant visits now, restaurants are in uncharted territory. Local businesses in every industry are being forced to adapt their marketing strategies on the fly and use digital channels like Google and Yelp to keep people updated on their status.

Restaurants that were previously hesitant to use delivery services are now jumping on the bandwagon, and apps like DoorDash, Instacart, and UberEats are seeing a surge in businesses using their platforms. Smaller restaurants, retailers, and other local businesses are also beginning to accept more orders through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Larger organizations are managing an influx of customer service calls using chatbots on these same platforms.

Coronavirus and Mobile Advertising: CPMs, Sensitivity, Geographic Comparisons

The Covid-19 crisis is a challenging time for all industries, but for mobile marketers it poses a paradoxical challenge. On the one hand, people are on their phones and engaging with media as much as ever. On the other hand, the economic downturn is putting a strain on marketing budgets, employees are working from home, and messaging during a public health crisis requires unusual sensitivity.

Brian Bowman, CEO of social marketing and user acquisition firm Customer Acquisition, provided Street Fight his takes on the current state of the mobile ad market, where it’s headed in the coming weeks, and how advertisers can approach their work with consideration for the difficulty of these times.

Street Fight’s April Theme: Local Commerce in the Time of Coronavirus

We’ll devote coverage this month to the virus’ continued outbreak and its effect on local business. Of course, the airwaves and ether are already filled with pandemic coverage, and we won’t look to compete with that. Rather, we’ll be writing specifically about the crisis’ impact on local commerce, marketing, and related subjects.

In fact, we’ve already gotten started. Our March theme of reputation management barely got off the ground before we and many of our contributors came to the realization that it didn’t really feel right to talk about anything other than Covid-19. Don’t worry, we’ll give reputation management an encore performance later in the year.

This Startup Is Helping Local Stores ID Customers During COVID-19

Chatbots are helping resolve customer service issues when businesses are closed and call centers are slammed, but brick-and-mortar stores are still struggling to adapt to an online-only business format. Pure play ecommerce outlets have spent years developing systems to manage transactions and verify customer identities, but most retailers on Main Street are accustomed to seeing shoppers in person and visually checking IDs.

A San Francisco-based startup called Persona is offering to help those local businesses adapt by giving away its online ID verification service for free during the COVID-19 crisis.

7 Delivery Apps Keeping Restaurants, Grocers Afloat During COVID-19

Dozens of states have banned dine-in service at restaurants, and nearly as many are requiring retailers to close up shop in a bid to slow down the coronavirus outbreak. As local businesses deal with the enormous financial implications that come with closing down to customers, many are trying out delivery services for the very first time.

For restaurants and other local businesses interested in offering their products via on-demand delivery, here are seven delivery platforms with which local businesses can partner during the Covid-19 crisis.

Google’s SameSite Update and the Third-Party Cookie-Free Future

The end of the third-party cookie forces marketers to take earning consumer consent for data collection more seriously, and it will open up new methods of data collection, some directly devised by Google and others by the many companies in its ecosystem. These new methods of data collection will aim to clarify the impact of ads and allow for pertinent advertising (or targeting) with consumers’ more clearly stated consent.

To obtain an insider’s perspective on marketing tech’s reaction to Google’s SameSite update and the industry’s path forward, I got in touch with Brian Silver, president of email marketing firm LiveIntent.

Brandify Launches Covid-19 Updates Page

We are not the only ones helping businesses with online communication at this critical time, and businesses themselves need to know the latest so they can craft flexible and responsive strategies. With that in mind, we’ve decided to publish our tracking sheet on changes to local business marketing channels as a new webpage called “COVID-19 Local Search Updates,” live on our website today. We will keep it up to date, and we hope you’ll find it useful.

E-Commerce Booms While Hospitality, Restaurants Suffer Amid Covid-19 Concerns

Early trends in consumer coronavirus behavior indicate that the already fast-growing e-commerce sector may see an added boost over the next few months as people avoid in-door shopping to practice social distancing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Media and marketing services firm ENGINE is conducting 1,000-person online surveys of representative samples of US consumers every few days to gauge changes in consumer sentiment and behavior as the quickly accelerating outbreak develops. The firm found that while 31% of consumers said they were increasing their online shopping in surveys conducted March 13-15 and 16-17, 42% said the same March 20-22, a 35% increase.

Brands Struggle to Keep Up When Promotions Explode in Popularity

When the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich was released last summer, the effect on sales was almost immediate. Customers filled Popeyes locations and waited in long lines to get a taste of the buzzy new sandwich. A Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A caused those lines to grow even longer, and the viral frenzy ended up draining the supply of “little chickens” to the point where a nationwide shortage ensued.

For GSD&M, the agency that handles Popeyes’ social media, the rollout was initially seen as a huge success. From a logistical perspective, though, it quickly turned into a nightmare as Popeyes struggled to keep up with demand.

Womply, FundRocket Launch SMB Stimulus Program

While Congress continues to deliberate on a stimulus package that will provide as much as $400 billion in aid and loans for small businesses, tech companies that serve SMBs are stepping in to offer their own assistance packages. Among them is reputation management, CRM, and email software firm Womply, which has launched an SMB stimulus program in collaboration with its capital partner, FundRocket. 

Location Leaders Step Up to the Plate

During the Covid-19 outbreak, we’re seeing tech companies step up to the plate in a mixture of altruistic and opportunistic moves. That’s everything from Comcast removing data caps to Amazon removing its paywall for streaming kids shows. But what about local specifically? Again, that’s where businesses are getting hit most.

We’ve seen moves in the local space over the past week from Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare. Though there are several others, we’ll drill down on this representative sample. We’ll also give a shoutout to Google for its work to free up human and compute resources for local listings updates, covered Monday by Damian Rollison.

Loyalty in the Time of “Near Me” Searches, Omnichannel, and Covid-19

In addition to the opportunities and challenges that come with an omni-channel commercial ecosystem, 2020 brings to businesses the challenge of mobile search, which leads people on the go to search for “X near me” and pick the closest possible option. The new year also brought, as hardly anyone would’ve predicted months ago, an impending recession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I caught up with Nicole Amsler, vice president of marketing at loyalty tech firm Formation.ai, to garner her insights on loyalty strategy this year.

Google Disables Reviews and Q&A, Yelp Announces New Features Amid Outbreak

Important announcements were posted Friday by Google and Yelp as part of the effort to contend with coronavirus and its impact on businesses.

Google has published a new help page titled “Limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19.” Before diving into the details in the announcement, I’ll mention the most important headline. Due to a rapid reorganization of priorities, Google has determined that at this time, they will disable the ability to leave new reviews, reply to reviews, and post new Question and Answer content.

These Chatbots Are Helping Brands Respond to Covid-19 Queries

Chatbots could help fill the gap in business-to-customer communication capacity during the Covid-19 outbreak. Although there will always be a need for human customer service agents, even when chatbots with AI are deployed, the coronavirus outbreak is demonstrating just how valuable this automated technology can be for brands working in a time of crisis. Already, chatbot companies like LivePerson say they’re seeing significant increases in volume on their platforms. As the pandemic widens, even more companies are likely to start integrating chatbots into their customer service systems.

Here are six chatbot solutions that brands can start using right away.

Tech Companies Respond as Workers, SMBs Face Covid-19 Pressure

Google’s sister site Verily launched a site, albeit with logistical difficulties, to help Bay Area residents find testing options, and Verily isn’t the only tech company facing or alleviating coronavirus concerns. As a possible recession looms, consumer spending dips, and employees are sent home for public safety, some vendors are stepping in to help workers weather the storm. Others are boosting small businesses, hiring and increasing pay for workers, and suspending precarious services.

Freckle, AdSquare Team Up on Privacy-Compliant Geo-Contextual Advertising

For years, geo-contextual advertising focused on targeting consumers for specific products or services at specific locations. The strategy has delivered impressive results for many brands and agencies. But with privacy restrictions on the rise, the time has come to start reimagining geo-contextual advertising in a way that brings brands together with on-the-go consumers in a privacy-safe way.

While many vendors are looking at how to expand into privacy-safe geo-targeting, Freckle and AdSquare are getting out ahead of the pack. Just this morning, Freckle and AdSquare announced a collaborative effort to improve geo-targeting capabilities for brands and agencies across North America. Through the collaboration, Freckle will layer its privacy-safe visitation data into AdSquare’s platform.

The Risk of Emphasizing Data Quantity Over Quality

The privacy movement heralded by January’s implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act has shone a spotlight on the ethical issues surrounding data collection. But digital marketing insiders know that ethics is not the only issue plaguing data-driven business.

Ensuring the quality and accuracy of data is a major challenge for marketers, data brokers, and consumers. Drew Kutcharian, CTO and co-founder of audience platform DISQO, checked in with Street Fight to provide his vision of the data quality-quantity balance and how privacy legislation will affect it going forward.

Review Generation and Management Platforms for Healthcare

In healthcare marketing, it all comes down to the patients. Adding patient reviews to a healthcare organization’s website can improve its ranking in the Google algorithm, particularly when those reviews are filled with relevant keywords. Just as importantly, though, patient reviews have a positive impact on the way other people view medical websites. Practice websites with user-generated content, including reviews, score higher in reliability, expertise, and professionalism.

Here are six examples of review generation and management platforms aimed squarely at healthcare organizations.

How The Canucks Use Chat to Optimize the Fan Experience

Telephone surveys are notoriously unreliable. So are email questionnaires. When it comes to engaging consumers in two-way market research, companies are increasingly looking toward chat-based technologies as a potential solution.

Case and point: the Vancouver Canucks. The ice hockey team has started using chat-based technology to capture fan feedback in real-time during home games in the team’s Vancouver stadium.