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Fine Tune Your In-Store Pick-Up Strategy

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Posted November 5, 2003 By Laura Rush     Feedback

Learn how multi-channel e-tailers can improve the 'buy online/pick-up in store process,' and let customers avoid the long wait for merchandise and shipping expenses that are seen as barriers to buying online.

Both large and small click-and-mortar businesses (businesses with both an online and offline presence) gradually have been making the move to allow customers to buy online and pick-up in a local store as a way of avoiding the long waiting periods for merchandise to arrive and shipping expenses that generally come with buying online. For example, last year, stuck a deal with Borders Books that enabled their customers to either purchase items online or check to see if they were available at a local Borders bookstore.

As part of its effort to set cross-channel standards for industry performance. e-commerce consulting firm the e-tailing group, inc. last week released preliminary findings from its 6th Annual Mystery Shopping Survey. The group tested the "buy on-line and pick-up in-store" functionality of 10 merchants in order to establish benchmarks for the multi-channel shopping tool.

According to the firm, the methodology followed in each case was to place an order online, await notification that the products were ready for pick-up, and then pick up the merchandise at the brick-and-mortar store to assess the complete experience.

According to Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group, inc., the study found that overall the feature was very well executed by online merchants.

What They Got Right
Pick-up locations were clearly designated on the Web site, and 90 percent of the time products were readily available and transactions typically took less than five minutes to complete.

The findings of the study also revealed that 50 percent of the stores had products ready for same day pick-up; the average for the balance of sites that did not have same-day pick-up was seven days. Eighty percent of the merchants tested sent an e-mail notification advising that the product was available for pick-up. Of those, 75 percent included store hours and/or contact information and 63 percent provided process instructions.

Fifty percent of merchants stated in their e-mail notifications the number of days that the product would be held; the average number of days was 10.75.

Although the study tested large businesses such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Office Depot, many smaller businesses involved in multi-channel retailing could benefit from the e-tailing groups checklist for fine-tuning a buy online/in store pick-up strategy:

  1. Train your personnel in how your store pick-up process works.
  2. Offer free delivery of the product to your store.
  3. Provide clear instructions on how the pick-up process works: how long the product will be held at the store, store location and directions, hours and phone number.
  4. Post the time frame and confirm via e-mail a reasonable number of days to pick-up merchandise once your customer has been notified.
  5. Alert customers by e-mail when merchandise is ready for in-store pick-up.
  6. Follow-up with subsequent store pick-up e-mail reminders.
  7. Designate a customer service area for pick-ups and man those areas with trained personnel.
  8. Store packages to be picked up in a specific location known to all customer service personnel.
  9. Encourage customers to make additional purchases while visiting the store.
  10. Facilitate an easy return process.

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