Friday, October 10, 2008

Combine Online with In-Store Retail

I have bought several items this way. This combines the best of both worlds, the convenience of shopping from home, your office or coffee shop, and then picking it up, sometimes as soon as 20 minutes later.

Can you implement this business model in your business?

Buy Online. Pickup Instore

According to the e-tailing group's recent Cross-Channel Shopping Study, "buy online for pickup in-store is definitely becoming more a part of stores' culture," according to Lauren Freedman, President. "Customer adoption coupled with growth among key multi-channel merchants embraces cross-channel customer convenience."

A primary appeal is free shipping to the store which 96% now offer vs. 92% last year. Merchants that stock products centrally need more time to ship goods to the store. This impacts same day pickup, now available from just 54% of those surveyed vs. 73% last year.

Efficiencies within the store like the pickup location more frequently being at the customer service area, and more related in-store signage, are further evidence of the feature's integration within the brick and mortar environment.

The overall wait time is also improving for store pickup; down to an average of 2.58 minutes versus 3.21 minutes last year and 3.64 the year prior. Products were ready and waiting when the customer arrived at the store 94% of the time, up from 83% in 2007.

In-Store Pickup Experience (% of surveyed merchants)

3Q 2008

3Q 2007

Pickup Location & Type

Designated pickup counter



General cashier



Customer service area



Designated counter*

Easy to find



Medium difficulty



Difficult to find



In-store signage for pickup



Overall wait time

2.58 min

3.21 min

Produce ready & waiting



Source: the e-Tailing Group, September 2008 (*subset % penetration)

Online there is good visibility and promotion of this feature. It is constant on the home page and gaining penetration on the product page (50% '08 vs. 27% '07) as well as in the shopping cart.

Along with the order confirmation and onsite thank-you standards, more merchants are including pickup instructions. The study received email notification that products were ready for pickup 71% of the time vs. 52% last year.

Freedman concludes, "... more merchants (should) step up their efforts and make the necessary investment to facilitate buy online/pickup in-store.... customers coming into stores will be critical for servicing and selling to today's multi-channel customer."

An example of recommended (by e-tailing) customer service practices relative to in-store pickup is included here:

The e-tailing group Checklist: In-store Stellar Customer Service

  • Keep promoted products be in-stock
  • Allow shoppers to designate who will be picking up the order
  • Include signage to direct customers picking up online orders
  • Staff pickup counters with associates that have been trained on ship-to-store
  • Keep store pickup areas in order
  • Limit multi-tasking while with the customer
  • Get feedback about customers' pickup experience

For more information including a list of surveyed merchants or to order the report visit the e-tailing group's website here.

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