Sunday, April 10, 2011

In-Store Pickup Option on E-Commerce Websites

The Achilles’ heel of E-Commerce has always been the delivery part.  Customers don’t want to pay for delivery and they want to start enjoying their new purchase right away. That’s why they go to online shopping sites that provide the option of in-store pickup. Large American chains including ToysRus, Sears, Walmart, Borders, Lowes and others believe that this feature gives them a competitive edge.

Added value for customers

The in-store pickup option is very interesting to online shoppers for a number of reasons:
  1. It reduces the delivery time and costs.
  2. It gives customers a chance to view the purchased goods at the store.
  3. Customers can reserve an item in advance of purchase.
  4. It allows merchants to increase the available products offering. (Long tail).

Site-to-store delivery is usually free and eliminates customers’ reticence towards delivery charges, especially for inexpensive items. It can also reduce delivery time when the product is already in stock at the store.  Finally, it eliminates the cat-and-mouse chase of the delivered goods when there is no one home to collect the package.

Ordering certain products online is an issue, especially for items such as clothing or footwear. Unless you are purchasing an item that is identical to one you have already purchased in the past, you can never be sure of the size, color or texture simply by viewing the item on-screen. If It is easy to substitute the product in-store or even to cancel the order, this avoids the problem (for example, department stores have an excellent return policy).

If the in-store stock of a certain item is low, the online purchase allows buyers to reserve it and  pick it up soon after. The same principle applies when new products aren’t yet available. The online purchase before availability in-store is another way of reserving the purchase (think of the iPad2).

Some products or product variations (colour, format, etc.) don’t have the sales volume needed to justify stocking them in-store.  Their online availability increases the product line offered by the organization, thereby making it more attractive to customers.

Multi-channel integration

In many organizations, the online e-business site is seen as a competitor to the store network.  Unfortunately, it’s the customers that end up with the short end of the stick in this case, usually because of return policies that refuse to accept returns at the store.  In the long run, it’s the organization that loses out.  The integration of the store network and the online shopping site is, in fact, mutually beneficial.  Otherwise, why would Jean Coutu and IGA offer low price photo print with free site-to-store delivery? The in-store pick up makes people go the store and possibly pick-up additional items.

On-line search and in-store purchase

This varies according to the type of product, but the more expensive the item the more extensive the online research. The term for this is ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline). It is therefore befitting for the store chain to have a web site that presents the products carried well. The virtual and physical network are allies therefore and not competitors.


In addition to providing great value to your online customers, the site-to-store delivery option gives you a second chance to sell additional items. Everyone comes out a winner: customer, store and online shopping site.

Nota Bene: This post was first published on the Desjardins Internet Payment Solutions’ blog.


Anonymous said...

Nice info.

Jack Charles said...

As the technology has gone so far, users want more comfort in every aspect of their life and it can be seen in shopping; now day’s people don’t want to waste their time and resources in delivery time and thanks to the feature of in store picking people can enjoy more options of online shopping.

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