In-Store Pickups: Great Idea, Weak Execution

The E-tailing Group’s second annual mystery shopper analysis of online back-to-school shopping, released last week, focused primarily on in-store pick-up and return processes. And according to the Chicago-based consulting firm, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

For one thing, store personnel were often distracted, multitasking, and conversing with coworkers or friends rather than focusing on shoppers’ needs. Although 63% of store clerks were able to quickly locate the products ordered online, “these employees acted like cashiers, offering little help and assistance beyond finding the order,” the report states.

Among other findings:

* Most online customers choose in-store pickup to avoid paying shipping and handling charges.

* Only half of the marketers surveyed had designated pickup counters in their stores.

* Store personnel were unable to locate one out of every four orders and consequently had to pull merchandise from the store floor.

* Although the shoppers had already checked out online, 75% of the time they had to “check out” once again in the store due to systems issues.

Based on the results of the survey, E-tailing Group president Lauren Freedman offers the following tips multichannel marketers:

* Consistently send an e-mail notification when merchandise is available for pickup, and include detailed pickup information.

* Strive to have merchandise available for pickup within 48 hours after it was ordered.

* Allow at least 14 days for customers to pick up their orders, and be flexible if customers are unable to meet the deadline.

* Create a designated area for in-store pickups with trained sales/service personnel; whenever possible facilitate returns at the same location.

* Use the opportunity of having customers in your store to sell them something else.

Among the marketers included in the study were Barnes & Noble, CDW, Circuit City, Crate & Barrel, Dell, J.C. Penney, Lands’ End, Nordstrom, Office Depot, REI, Sears, Staples, and Wal-Mart.

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