One of the conveniences that consumers look for heading into the holiday shopping season is the ability to order products online and then pick them up at a store. In fact, nearly one-third of U.S. shoppers say they plan to purchase gifts online and pick these items up in-store, according to a recent Shopatron study. That's great news for retailers, since 40 percent of consumers make additional purchases when they come to a store to pick up a purchase. Meanwhile, retailers save on shipping costs while driving foot traffic to their stores. But to make this work, retailers need to make sure that the process is easy and hassle-free for consumers.Unfortunately, too many retailers lack the wherewithal to properly track and manage in-store pickup. According to a study by RIS News, just 21 percent of U.S. retail executives say they have the technology in place to handle in-store pickup.
Consumers who place an order online expect the product to be at the store when it's intended to be. Customers will easily become frustrated if a store associate at the designated pickup area has trouble finding information about the order or locating where the item is.
Retailers should ensure that the ordering and fulfillment process is handled seamlessly from end to end. This includes making it easy for customers to place an order online and providing live support (e.g. voice, chat) should a customer require assistance. The ordering process can be streamlined, in part, by mapping the customer journey and understanding the steps that a customer takes (and should take) to place an order for in-store pickup. And then removing any steps or obstacles that make it difficult for a customer to place an order online.
Customers should receive clear instructions on where to pick up an order; whether there are any additional costs incurred with online orders/in-store pickup; any information customers may need have with them to pick up an order (such as photo ID or an email confirmation), clarification about who is authorized to pick up an order, how long an order will be held by the store, and whether customers are permitted to change or cancel an order.
As customers move intermittently between digital and offline channels, they expect their experiences to be free-flowing and natural. Retailers that take a customer-focused approach to online ordering and in-store pickup position themselves to deliver the types of experiences that can earn customers' confidence and enhance loyalty.