Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Combine the Best of Both in Retail

This is one of my favorite ways to buy online and not have to wait for delivery.


Why Customers Might Want to Pick Up Online Orders at Your Store

Barnes & Noble pioneered the concept of online orders shipped to brick-and-mortar stores for customer pickup. In Marketing by the Numbers, Leland Harden and Bob Heyman present a case study on another successful "ship-to-store" program: Ace Hardware's.

"When a customer selects ship-to-store service," they explain, "orders are fulfilled out of the warehouse for shipping to the local Ace—at no charge."

According to Ace eCommerce Marketing Supervisor, Mark Lowe, ship-to-store is a wildly popular option: online shoppers choose in-store pickups 73 percent of the time. It's not hard to see why:

  • The absence of shipping charges means substantial savings on larger items like grills and table saws, and thus lowers barrier of entry to high-priced purchases.
  • With once- or twice-weekly shipments from the warehouse, delivery times can rival those of UPS shipments sent straight to a customer's house.

Stores, meanwhile, appreciate that 33 percent of customers who pick up an online purchase also buy other items during their visits.

But before you spring a similar program on your brick-and-mortar locations, make sure they're ready: "Retailers have a lot going on in their stores every day, and this is just an additional responsibility that you're asking them to handle," says Lowe. "So [make] it as easy as possible for them to receive those orders, give it to the customer during pickup, and then, if necessary, take that return. I think it's really important that if you allow ship to store, you also allow them to return the product to the store."

The Po!nt: Customers like ship-to-store options—and a substantial number might just buy something else while they're taking delivery.

Source: Marketing by the Numbers.

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