Editor’s Notebook: Cyber Weekend BOPIS Went Smoothly… Kinda…

Buy online, pick up in store… Seems pretty easy from the customer point of view, and seems pretty complicated from a retailer’s perspective. And during the holiday season, omnichannel shopping should be nerve-racking for everyone.

But truth be told, my BOPIS experience over Cyber Weekend 2015 went pretty well, for the most part. Any glitches were relatively minor to me, but could have had some customers go ballistic on the sales floor (or in their living room, depending on when the glitch happened).

Over Cyber Weekend 2015, I bought (or attempted to buy/decided not to buy) from the following omnichannel retailers, with the intent to pick the items up in the store. In each case, I tried to make the purchase via an iPhone 6, and using the store’s app: Home Depot, Kmart, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, TJMaxx, Toys R Us, and Walmart.

Here’s a recap of my Cyber Weekend experience from the customer’s perspective:

Home Depot

The Home Depot’s app may have been the best one I’ve used so far this season. The inventory was completely visible at my store of choice, the location map seemed to be completely up to date, so hypothetically I could have driven to the Home Depot in Fairfield, CT, and picked the items up instead of having someone fulfill the order for me. But I was time-poor, which is why people do BOPIS in the first place.

Despite the awesome ease of use of the app, my order was not ready for pick up by the time I had to leave Fairfield. But it was fulfilled fairly quickly for a Black Friday (3 hours, 5 minutes), considering the number of items I purchased.

I picked the order up on Cyber Monday, and the experience was very easy. Though I missed Home Depot’s VIP parking spot for people picking up BOPIS orders, all other signage clearly led me to the customer service desk (the most logical place in the store) for pick up.

It is, however, a good thing I checked my bag before I drove away. The batteries I’d ordered had not been picked. Though I’d left my bag in the truck and explained the situation to the clerk at the customer service desk, a manager grabbed a new pack off the customer service desk, no questions asked.

FullSizeRender (1)And something cool happened at Home Depot as well: I got a thank-you bottle of water, with the customer service manager’s card and a message to please fill out an online survey that I’d receive in my email. Now how can you not give feedback when you’re given a gift?

(Unless you can’t find the email, but I’ll search my inbox high and low for it).

Kmart

You can read more about my experience with Kmart in the following blog posts: My Big Fat Omnichannel Thanksgiving Shopping Day and Black Friday and the Parkin’ is Easy. In a nutshell, I shopped twice via the Kmart app, and can safely say Kmart was 1-for-2 in getting my BOPIS order. That’s right, in getting my order. For some reason, BOPIS order No. 2 never made it to the Southbury, CT store’s cue. But Kmart management did a great job assisting me (without even asking them for help) and was able to cancel the order on my behalf.

Kohl’s

IMG_6941[1]My goal with Kohl’s was to purchase an ugly Christmas something, and got ugly Christmas socks. The interesting thing is the socks I bought did not contain the phrase “ugly Christmas” or either of the words in the product page, so they did not show up when I searched the app. It was only when I looked at a three pack of ugly Christmas socks that three different pairs of the ones I bought showed up under the product recommendations.

IMG_6970[1]You know that old saying, “The customer is always right?” Sometimes the customer is just plain wrong. Like, even though I got an email from Kohl’s about 3 hours after purchase to let me know my order was ready for pick up, I never opened it. So I wandered aimlessly around Kohl’s in Fairfield, CT, trying to figure out where I should pick up my order, when all the details were clearly laid out for me in the unopened email.

The one surprise here: My order was ready for pickup, but the 4 pairs of ugly Christmas socks still had to be scanned before I could walk away. Maybe this is done beforehand by other retailers, but it was a great way to verify my order was correct without me having to rummage through a bag.

Lowe’s

IMG_6952Here’s another example of why the customer needs to pay attention. I placed an order for 2 sets of net lights and a timer via the Lowe’s app at about 1:30 p.m. EST, for in-store pick up in Norwalk, CT. I hadn’t received an email to confirm my order was ready, so I trekked out to Lowe’s at about 6:30 p.m. seeking answers.

It turns out I’d missed a call from someone in the Lowe’s store to let me know they only had one set of lights. And I wasn’t paying attention. I had figured this could be a possibility, since the visible inventory tied into the product page told me there were just 2 sets of these particular net lights available in the store. And by the way, the app told me exactly where in this Lowe’s store I could find them, so it makes for a great in-store shopping tool as well.

IMG_6959When I arrived at the store, I went to the customer service desk, as directed by the email. Of course I didn’t notice the huge door in the entrance way marked “PRODUCT PICKUP,” which is where I really was supposed to go.

Now, I wound up doing 2 returns here. The first was because I’d been charged for 2 sets of Christmas lights and only one was available. The second was because I changed my mind: I was pretty positive I needed 2 sets of lights, so I returned the other set, and the timer. No questions asked, no hassled, no need to swipe my credit card, and even a thank you from the clerk, who did not take my return as a slap in the face.

So I got back to the truck and changed my mind again… and ordered the same 2 sets of lights and the same timer (which came up as a recommended product to use with the lights) for pick up in Danbury, CT… so stay tuned… my order is ready, and I will pick them up on Dec. 3.

Macy’s

FullSizeRenderThe Macy’s app was pretty intriguing to me. It did let me do everything a Macy’s shopper could possibly want, and the ability to filter search items for items available in a specific store is a great concept for the BOPIS customer.

I needed to buy something from Macy’s, and opted for collar stays… which is pretty funny because I don’t wear collared shirts too often. But when I do, I lose the collar stays in the dryer.

Like Kohl’s above, the email from Macy’s gave me specific instructions on where to pick my order up. In this case, it was the juniors department. I did wait until Dec. 1 to pick the item up, and the in-store experience there was hassle-free.

The collar stays were ready for pickup shortly after I placed the order on Sunday. Even though I received a confirmation email that the order was ready for pick up after the Trumbull, CT store had closed for the evening, I was okay with that. But I’m wondering how many customers why have to have something right away would be ticked off if they placed an order for BOPIS and had to wait until the next day to pick it up? Oh well, not my problem, right?

Old Navy

Here’s another app that does an excellent job of letting you know what inventory is available in your store of choice… But the problem here is I couldn’t buy something via the app for pick up in the Fairfield, CT store on Sunday. Which got me to tweet, and got me a logical explanation as to why BOPIS may not be an Old Navy offering:

 

And it also got me a response from Old Navy, which is something they really didn’t have to do for a venting customer, though it did prove to me their customer service department was paying full attention during the busiest time of the year:

 

Later on Sunday night, thanks to a 9-hour flash sale that offered free shipping on all orders, I went back to make a purchase. Unfortunately though, I decided against making a purchase… I was being cheap and decided not to buy the summer clearance stuff that I was going to put away for next year. I’m still shaking my head about this poor non-purchase decision!

Target

targetAnd the lightning-fast BOPIS turnaround award goes to Target, which somehow managed to have my Ugly Christmas Hat I ordered via the app on Black Friday ready to pick up at the Trumbull West store about a minute after I placed the order.

Un-Freakin-Believable!

Even more un-freakin-believable though: I had no problem finding a parking place at about 5:15 p.m. on Black Friday… And it seemed like certain big ticket doorbusters like HDTVs were still there for the taking.

IMG_6894But it seemed like the Target employees may have been under-appreciated by its customers all day.

I thanked the customer service woman for taking care of me, and explained to her that I’d been having slow reaction times to in-store pick up all day with other retailers.

“We’re trying our best, that’s all I can tell you, sir,” she said to me, and she turned her head to help the next person in line… I guess no one had given her a compliment all day…

It appears Target has been getting slammed with BOPIS orders so far this season: Before 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the number of orders placed for in-store pick up increased by 35% as compared to 2014.

TJMaxx

Now TJMaxx does not offer BOPIS, but I think it’s great that after years and years of rumors, the TJMaxx website is finally up and running. The full selection of inventory is not available on the site (safe to say there’s a micro-selection), there’s no BOPIS, and there’s no ship-to-store. But TJMax does offer in-store returns of items purchased online, so it’s got that going for them.

I didn’t buy anything, I was just looking. But I felt TJMaxx needed to be added to the conversation.

Toys R Us

FullSizeRender (2)You can read more about my horrific app experience here: My Big Fat Omnichannel Thanksgiving Shopping Day. But I wanted to let our audience know the pick up was a little smoother… again, if I read the email instructions (and I did). “Proceed to the Merchandise Pick Up Location within the store, which is identified by one of the following signs…”

So I would have had to wander around the Norwalk, CT Toys R Us store to find the merchandise pick up kiosk had I not seen it way in the back of the store on past visits there. And if I hadn’t printed out the email and scanned the bar code, who knows how long it would have taken to receive my order.

FullSizeRender (3)One thing of omnichannel note. Toys R Us seems to be doing a HUGE ship from store business as well, as evidenced by the carts overflowing with packages that the stock crew was bringing out to the USPS driver when I went to pick up my order. Notice I didn’t say a few items… we’re talking a few shopping carts! Let’s hope this strategy works out for Toys R Us, and helps it achieve faster delivery times.

Walmart

Oh, Walmart, I got a great deal from you on Thanksgiving Night on a 55″ HDTV… and it did not arrive on Dec. 1, as promised. It did leave the Bethlehem, PA distribution center on Dec. 1, and is on a FedEx truck for delivery today, but it’s still not in my living room at this moment…

IMG_6939Meanwhile, I did make a Cyber Monday purchase via the Walmart all: A box of vacuum storage bags. Yes, I know, really exciting stuff. But seriously, I also bought a Batman toy for a little boy who asked for one via the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Now on Cyber Monday, Walmart would not guarantee item availability in store, which makes sense during the busiest time of the year. They did, however, give me a guaranteed ship to store date, which exceeded my expectations. So I will travel to Danbury, CT tomorrow and pick my order up… and return the vacuum storage bags, which my wife reminded me can be bought at Dollar tree for much, much less… Stay tuned…

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.