Swipeby Sees Future in ‘Virtual Drive-Thrus’

Tech startup’s e-commerce platform aims to help c-stores compete with large retailers
Quality Mart
Photograph courtesy of Quality Mart

COVID-19 brought to retailers a new focus on curbside delivery for major chains that is here to stay at many retailers. For convenience stores who want in on the action, a startup is rolling out its e-commerce platform.

Swipeby, a North Carolina technology startup, wants convenience stores to be able to offer the same delivery and curbside pickup options as retail giants like Walmart and Target.

“If you look at America here, these are driver markets. What’s doing incredibly well is the drive-thru,” Carl Turner, Swipeby’s chief executive told CSP Daily News. “Our technology allows retailers to very competitively capture that market for smaller orders,” Turner said.

Swipeby’s technology helps smaller retailers provide curbside pickup and delivery and at-home delivery programs without the extra task of managing the logistics.

“The retailer doesn’t need to handle anything. They don’t need to have drivers. They don’t need to have insurance,” Turner said. “We will dispatch the driver for them at no commission.”

The company teams up with delivery companies like Door Dash and Uber to allow convenience stores to enter the at-home delivery market. Its platform also paves the way for what Turner calls “virtual drive-thrus,” which allow customers who don’t wish to go into the store to pick up products from their cars.

Drivers fueling their vehicles can order from an app and have their purchases brought to them at the gas pump, Turner said.

The company, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, began before COVID-19 with an e-commerce platform for restaurant delivery. It has been expanding to other retailers since then. Curbside pickup uses location technology connected to iPhone and Android phones, Turner said, adding Swipeby wants to enable retailers of any size to offer the same capabilities as the big-box retailers.

Retailers choose how they want consumers to pay. Quality Mart stores in the Winstom-Salem area charge consumers a flat delivery fee, Turner said. “There is no minimum. If you’re willing to pay $5 for a pack of gum (delivered), you’re free to do it,” Turner said. 

  • Quality Oil is No. 53 on CSP’s 2022 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by total number of company-owned retail outlets.

Swipeby offers two pricing models, a subscription offer that charges a flat monthly fee of less than $100 per month per retail location,  and a delivery-fee model where Swipeby takes 1.8% plus 15 cents per transaction, he said. While Swipeby’s platform arranges delivery by a third-party provider, the retailer provides employees to pick the orders, Turner said.

For convenience stores doing a large volume of delivery, the subscription model reduces the cost-per-order as more orders are obtained. “If you put on enough orders, the price per order goes down to zero. It becomes a very effective tool,” he said.

“Our technology allows retailers to very competitively capture that market for smaller orders in the price offered to consumers,” Turner said.

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