New app feature aims to make curbside pickup process smoother

New app feature aims to make curbside pickup process smoother

Curbside pickup is catching on in Long Island’s downtowns because of the coronavirus — and a local chamber of commerce group has a mobile app to make it easier for businesses and consumers in Suffolk County.

The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Inc. is introducing My Local Pickup, a new feature of the 10-year-old MyChamberApp. The nationwide app service, which is owned by a California company, is like the paper directories that chambers used to publish of their members’ goods or services.

Users of MyChamberApp, who allow it to know their location, can find a nearby retailer and make a purchase from the retailer’s website via My Local Pickup. The consumer and retailer receive a QR code and number linked to the purchase, and the retailer is notified of the transaction by email.

My Local Pickup then gives the consumer directions to the store or restaurant, and sends an email to the business when the consumer is about one mile away.  The consumer shows the QR code to claim their purchase.

“My Local Pickup streamlines the whole pickup process,” said Gina Coletti, of Nesconset, a real estate agent who runs the chambers’ alliance with Robert G. Fonti. “The business is aware when the customer gets there; nobody has to run outside and say, ‘What did you order? What’s your name?’ The waitstaff just grabs the order, finds the person with the matching QR code on their phone, and hands them the order,” she said.

My Local Pickup is free to consumers and offers an alternative for businesses to DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and other delivery services, which charge fees. 

My Local Pickup is available to chamber members if their chamber belongs to the chambers’ alliance and buys a subscription to the MyChamberApp from AppVentures Inc. in Glendale, California. Subscriptions are $100 for the first year, and $360 to $600 thereafter.

Chambers in Farmingdale, Huntington and Riverhead already use the MyChamberApp, so their combined 950 members are listed on My Local Pickup. The chambers’ alliance is paying businesses’ subscription to My Local Pickup through Dec. 31; the cost is $99 per year per business. 

“We’re only targeting businesses that are part of chambers,” said Fonti, a property manager from Huntington, adding that annual chamber membership dues are generally $150 and up. “Local pickup is here to stay and we want to help businesses make the most of it because many have been devastated by the pandemic.” 

He and Coletti contacted AppVentures in March as the coronavirus forced the shutdown of nonessential activity.

“They were looking for something that was going to help local businesses survive,” said Peter Glück, president of AppVentures and a former NASA software engineer. “They wanted to create a virtual downtown that facilitates customers making purchases from local businesses without stepping inside their door,” he said.

Glück and the chamber pair, in multiple Zoom meetings, created My Local Pickup, which launched this month for iPhone and Android. They hope it will gain a foothold on Long Island and expand nationwide. 

“There’s a laundry list of things that we still want to go into My Local Pickup,” Glück said. “But we decided to get it out now in hopes of making a difference for those businesses that are struggling in today’s environment.”

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