In-store pickup continues to be a popular order fulfillment option for consumers in our omnichannel retail world, where alternating between online and in-store shopping has become the norm. Research from CFI Group has found that 75 percent of consumers want to be able to order products online and pick them up at their local store. Unfortunately, some retailers aren’t executing their in-store pickup programs very well, resulting in disappointing experiences for customers. According to a survey from JDA Software Group, 50 percent of consumers have encountered problems while collecting their orders in-store.
That’s a shocking statistic for an omnichannel fulfillment solution that provides so many benefits for consumers and retailers alike when it’s planned and executed properly. Consumers like to buy online and pickup in-store for instant gratification, convenience, and to save on shipping charges. Retailers like in-store pickup because it:
- Drives more customers into stores
- Reduces shipping costs
- Provides incremental sales
- Creates opportunities for personalizing the customer experience
- Increases customer loyalty
When you consider the fact that cross-channel shoppers are more profitable and that 40 percent of customers make additional purchases when they collect their orders in-store, implementing in-store pickup has become a retail imperative. But simply offering it isn’t enough. With so many retailers struggling to do it well, you can differentiate your business by implementing a solution that is consistently effective and provides the best possible in-store experience for your customers. To do that, you need to focus on a few key areas that will make in-store pickup a success.
First and foremost, investing in the right technology that connects enterprise systems across all touchpoints is essential. You have to be able to connect your store inventory across all stores and with your website, as well as share your online sales with your stores and your store sales with your website. A cloud-based solution enables you to centralize all of your data so you have cross-chain inventory availability, can manage product data, push products to your marketplaces, and develop a single view of the customer.
While 77 percent of retailers rank inventory visibility as a top omnichannel capability, only 25 percent of retailers have accurate inventory levels in their stores. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology makes inventory visibility possible by enabling store management, store associates, and connected customers to have an accurate, real-time view of product location and availability data. Up-to-the-moment inventory data is crucial for improving the overall shopping experience of your customers, enticing them to visit a local store where your product is stocked and, of course, making sure it’s actually available when they get there.
As an omnichannel retailer, one of the biggest advantages you have over pure-play online retailers is the in-store assistance your associates can provide. Armed with the right training, tools, and information, your store associates can make in-store pickup a positive experience for customers. They should be knowledgeable about all aspects of your in-store pickup program, and be able to assist customers through every step of the process. With the proper training and support, your store associates can be instrumental to the success of in-store pickup, helping you personalize the customer experience, drive incremental sales, and increase customer loyalty.
Store Design and Signage
Your store layout and signage also play important roles in making the in-store pickup process as smooth as possible. You have to consider the placement of the designated areas where shoppers can conveniently pickup purchases. While placing it in the back of the store may make the most sense from a merchandising standpoint, this strategy will frustrate most customers. They expect to be able to pickup orders towards the front of the store quickly and easily, without having to navigate the store. After all, not having to find products in the store is one of the reasons consumers choose in-store pickup in the first place.
Well-placed signage should help direct customers to the pickup area from the moment they enter the store, and should include clear instructions to make the process as efficient as possible. You should also consider adding designated parking spots with appropriate signage for in-store pickup customers so they can get in and out quickly.
It’s no secret that consumers respond to personalized, well-timed coupons, so presenting them with one when they pickup their order is a great way to compel them to continue shopping. You can entice customers with everything from a time-sensitive offer to a discount on products that are related to their order. For example, if they’re picking up a pair of shoes, you can offer a twenty percent discount on socks if they purchase them in-store that day.
A proven way to succeed at in-store pickup is to perfect ship-from-store first. Ship-from-store provides more flexibility, allowing you a little more fulfillment leeway. With ship-from-store, if an item isn’t available at the first store, you can reroute that order to another store and the customer will never know the difference. As long as the product is somewhere in your store inventory, you can get it to the customer on time. With in-store pickup, however, if a customer shows up at one of your stores and the product isn't there, he will have a bad experience and may never purchase from you again. You can avoid getting into this kind of scenario by working out the kinks in your system by implementing ship-from-store. Once you’ve improved your chain inventory accuracy, trained store associates, and streamlined your processes, you’ll be ready to implement in-store pickup.
In-store pickup is essential if you expect to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive retail landscape. But the last thing you want to do is be one of those retailers that can’t deliver on its in-store pickup promise. While it has the potential of enabling you to better meet the expectations of your customers by conveniently fulfilling orders from a local store, eliminating shipping costs, and shortening the overall time to receive an order, getting in-store pickup wrong can actually have devastating consequences in terms of future sales and customer loyalty. However, if you can get it right, in-store pickup can be a key driver of your omnichannel retailing success.