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Buy online. Pickup in-store: The new standard for e-commerce retail

Depending on the product you sell and the number of physical stores in your network, the number of consumers who would opt to pick up their purchases in-store will increase to approximately 40%.

The click and collect model of e-commerce retail creates a win-win situation for both the customers and the retailers.

From the consumer’s standpoint, he opts to use the buy online and pickup in-store option to:

  • To make sure the product is available and reserved for him.
  • Avoid unnecessary shipping costs.
  • Same day availability of the product.
  • Avoid wasting time to look for the product in the store.

For the retailer, the in-store pickup option contributes in more than one way:

  • Deepen the brand experience with the online-shopper with in-store interaction.
  • Increase in the average transaction value, which occurs when the customer visits the physical store; leading to attachment sales.
  • Higher conversions as the product are available for collection on the same day.
  • Easy returns and exchange at the stores.
  • Reduction in shipping cost.
  • Higher profit margins.

Implementing the ‘Buy online. Pickup in-store’ model, the retailers needs to create an inventory system that is real-time and also, dedicated staff and space in the store for shoppers to pick their in-store purchases.

Challenges :

A survey by JD Software Inc. of 1000 online US-based shoppers who availed the Buy online and pickup in-store option showed that approximately 50% of the customers faced some problem with their shopping experience. And this is a staggeringly high number.

Some of these challenges include:-

  • Long wait times at the counter.
  • Items not ready for pick up.
  • Confusion among customer service associates.

Reconsidering the service with a new perspective and calibrating the supported processes and systems, the retailers can minimize the client grievances and create a positive shopping experience.
Improving the processes:

  • Estimating the customers who will use this service

An accurate estimate of the number of clients who will be using the service will enable the retailers with proper management for inventory and customer service associates.

An underestimation of the numbers will result in the shortfall of stocks for delivery and burden on the retailer’s existing employees hampering the customer experience. An over-estimation will lead to added costs for the retailers.

It’s important that you can scale up or down quickly and easily even if your forecast is off-target.

Creating a separate counter for in-store pick-up:

Most retailers have been observed to manage their in-store pickup service at the customer service desks along with other offline customers returning their products. An in-store pickup transaction usually takes 8-10 minutes with associated switching through multiple screens to complete the transaction. During peak hours, this could result in long queues and dissatisfied customers.

A better approach would be to keep separate counters for in-store pickup transactions and returns. Also, why would you like to turn your happily picked up customers to potentially frustrated customers returning their products?

Allocation of resources:

A better estimate for in-store pickup customers can help in better staff management. The retailers can allocate additional staff during peak season to help maintain a smooth shopping experience for the customers.

Also, a better estimate helps retailers with an efficient management of supply chain and delivery.

Policies and procedures:

Retailers need to set up clear policies and procedures for bricks-and-mortar and online customers. The associates need to have clear policies for the discrepancy in online and in-store pricing. Clear policies need to be set and communicated to associates in case the customers want the new price.

Also, for reselling the returns procedures need to be put in place.

Apparel brands like Souris-Mini and Kohl’s report an improvement in net sales revenue and additional store traffic with the implementation of in-store pickups.
For Souris-Mini, as many as 30% of its online customers opted for in-store pickups.

According to Slice Intelligence, the buy online and pickup in-store sales made up almost 30.2% of the Sam’s Club and 22.6% of Kmart’s total e-commerce sales in 2015.

Consumers will only increasingly opt for in-store pickup options if it means saving a few dollars on shipments and receiving goods on the same day.

What do you think? Leave a comment to let us know.


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