Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rise of the Curbside Economy

The Curbside Economy is my term for the ever-growing marketplace of goods and services -- such as gourmet food trucks and express bus lines -- delivered not in a fixed location but from various streetside locations convenient to where customers live or work.

A century ago, many goods and services were brought from neighborhood to neighborhood by push-cart operators, wagons, etc. Fifty years ago, ice cream trucks roamed nearly every community. Now we've gone back to the future, bringing goods and services to local customers for convenience.

The Curbside Economy covers a wide range of offerings, such as:
  • Express bus service. Instead of going to a central transportation terminal to board a bus, customers of BoltBus and MegaBus and their competitors can wait at a designated curbside location and ride to a curbside location in another city. BoltBus launched in 2008, an early pioneer of curbside bus service. Today, the growth of curbside buses is far outpacing that of traditional bus service, not just because of convenience but also due to amenities like Wi-Fi and wider, comfier seats.
  • Gourmet food trucks. Kogi BBQ Taco Trucks began rolling in San Francisco at the end of 2008, kicking off a fad that has extended across the US and beyond. Want a sip of gourmet coffee in Lima, Peru? Food trucks are at the curb to serve you. Gelato is ready for curbside consumption in New Zealand. The list of foods and locations goes on and on.
  • Mobile services. Albuquerque has an unusual barber shop on wheels, ready to drive to your neighborhood. New York is home to numerous mobile personal grooming services for busy people who don't have time to travel to a fixed location like a salon. Again, the list goes on and on.
  • Mobile pop-up shops. Mobile retail stores featuring branded goods, like pop-up shops but on wheels, are helping marketers to test the market in different places. Fashion eyeglasses go for a spin in the Rivet & Sway bicycle cart called Specs on Wheels. More marketers are experimenting with these mobile units, for promotional purposes and for revenue.
What's next for the Curbside Economy?

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