New Study Shows Strengths and Shortcomings of In-Store Pickup for Online Retailers

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

online-shippingIt’s 2017 and a lot of stuff in the world happens on the internet. That said, it’s important to keep in mind just how much consumers still use physical location for shopping and acquiring the things they need. Business owners that can use online and offline channels effectively can benefit with greater traffic and sales. A recent report shows that having buy online with in-store pickup is a popular way integrate offline and online channels.

According to a recent survey by iVend Retail, the lion’s share of consumers use multiple channels when they shop and the majority use the in-store pickup options. The study also revealed some of the ways consumers felt these programs could be improved.

Of the 1,000 North American consumers surveyed by iVend Retail, nearly all (92%) said they regularly shop across multiple channels. More than half (57.5%) also use a buy online pickup in-store option.

This should tell retailers that it is important to have a website and that having a site-to-store pickup option can help attract and retain customers who are shopping on online channels. Since nine out of 10 consumers are using multiple channels, it would be foolish to insist on using only one channel for marketing and selling products. This goes beyond just websites. Other channels can include social media platforms, shopping apps, online searches for reviews, and more.

Just because the in-store pickup option is popular, doesn’t mean it’s universally loved. The iVend Retail study notes several areas where business owners can improve their online and in-store tactics to make customer happy. While two out of three people surveyed (67.8%) said they found online shopping a “smooth” process, just 31.6% could say the same of the order online pickup in-store process.

There are a lot of places where in-store pickup can become a bumpy road. Issues can include: products arriving at store later than originally estimated; long waits at the in-store pickup; in-store customer service reps who are unfamiliar with items being ordered from online site; and more. Either by training, staffing or improving shipping estimates, it’s possible to address the issues that often concern consumers about site-to-store pickup.

It’s also worthwhile to look at the the reasons why people choose to use in-store pickup. The iVend Retail survey reported that 65.3 percent (nearly two-thirds) of consumers say they use the buy online, pickup in-store service to avoid shipping costs. Nearly 3 out of 10 (29.2 percent) cited convenience and about one of of four (23.5 percent) said they use the option to instantly return the product if it did not meet expectations.

As has been covered in other articles on this site, shipping is extremely important for online retailers. The gap from the time you pay for the item to when you actually recieve it is one of the biggest shortcomings of online retail. If two things cost about the same price and the consumer can either pick it up in the store that day or week 3 to 5 days for delivery, they are probably going to pick the pickup in-store option. So doing whatever it takes to make the process smooth benefits the consumer and the retailer.

For more recent research about marketing, read this article on why consumers often make their first visit to a brand’s website.

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