American Eagle soars with curbside pickup, self-checkout

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A specialty apparel retailer is leveraging geofencing technology to streamline its curbside pickup process and provide mobile self-checkout in stores.

When American Eagle Outfitters Inc. began reopening brick-and-mortar stores in spring 2020 following an initial pandemic-related store shutdown, it quickly launched curbside and in-store pickup ordering options. Customers could place an order online, receive an email when the order was ready, and either pick up the order in-store or call the store for curbside pickup.

However, American Eagle soon discovered a number of operational challenges that negatively impacted the customer experience for in-store and curbside pickup customers. These included customers having difficulty finding curbside pickup locations and relying on store associates to provide parking directions and pickup instructions.

In addition, as call volume for curbside pickup increased, customers experienced much longer hold times. Store associates lacked insight into estimated time of arrival (ETA) for curbside customers, and often struggled to locate them in store parking lots using only the customer’s initial description of their parked location. This last challenge was exacerbated for American Eagle, as many of their locations are in malls and shopping centers.

American Eagle realized it needed to find a more efficient way for store associates to fulfill curbside pickup orders. The retailer deployed a solution from location technology provider Radar that provided flexible geofencing functionality to support an in-store app mode for customers, as well as trip tracking for curbside and order-ahead to notify staff when customers were on their way. 

With Radar’s turnkey trip tracking dashboard installed on in-store iPads and iPod touch devices, American Eagle associates can see live ETAs throughout a customer’s trip. Customers can designate when they’re on their way to begin a trip and Radar takes over, notifying associates when customers are on their way and when the customer arrives. Now, customers no longer have to wait on hold attempting to contact the store upon arrival.

Additionally, customer wait times are shorter in the store, protecting customers from having to form long lines. With Radar’s geofencing technology, American Eagle added a self-checkout feature, enabling customers to resume in-store shopping in a safe and convenient way. 

The Radar solution determines when a customer is inside a store geofence, triggering an American Eagle push notification powered by Airship to let shoppers know a self-checkout feature is available. Opening the app within the store loads this mode automatically, enabling customers to use their own device to scan products and check out and pay without exchanging cash or cards.

After kicking off this project in September, American Eagle had completed development by the target deadline in November.

“We wanted to make the American Eagle shopping experience even more convenient this holiday season, so we set out to build best-in-class in-store and curbside functionality,” said Susan Eshleman, VP of product and project management, American Eagle Outfitters. “We needed a geofencing partner that could power both experiences, and Radar was the obvious choice given their privacy and developer-first approach. Since working with their team, we were able to design, build, test, and launch these best-in-class offerings in under 2.5 months, just in time for the holiday season.”