In-Store Pickup Tips for Multichannel Retailers

Linda Bustos

September 4th, 2009

With the holiday Christmas shopping officially underway, and many holiday shoppers using the internet to ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) - offering ship-to-store services to online customers is a competitive advantage to multi-channel retailers.

Here are some tips to ensure a satisfying online and offline experience of your ship-to-store service for your customers:

On-Site Messaging and Usability

Because ship-to-store is a key customer service, it needs to be communicated well throughout your site (to remind customers you offer it, and to inform first-time visitors about it, regardless of which "landing page" attracts the visitor -- it might not be your home page).

Wal-Mart does a great job at branding its "Site-To-Store" service throughout the site, and even uses a unique icon for it - including it in the navigation header, search and category results and product pages:

Navigation / Header

Category Pages

Product Pages

Estimated Arrival Date

Wal-Mart also uses an estimated arrival date for various shipping methods. It uses an absolute date which is better than "3-7 business days" which is not as clear to the customer (requires some mental gymnastics).

Wal-mart also leverages its meta description:

Other areas Wal-Mart could flaunt (like free shipping offers) its Site-to-Store service are email subject lines, pay-per-click ads and shopping engine data feed promo fields.

It's also a good idea to have a functioning store-lookup tool from every product page, and a link to your ship-to-store policy. Don't forget to explain which items are eligible for in-store pickup (e.g. perishable items or very heavy, oversized products). You may consider offering a policy that if it's not there on time for any reason, customer receives a gift card (similar to Best Buy's arrival date guarantee).

Ship to Store Customer Service Recommendations

  • Make store shipping free
  • Offer an express shipping offer for a premium
  • Ask customer to indicate notification preference - email, telephone (even SMS)
  • Send confirmation email post-purchase with store information - location, hours of operation, telephone number and even Google Map
  • State how long you will hold merchandise for
  • Send email when order is available for pick-up, or call customer if that's an indicated preference
  • Explain what the customer is required to present as identification/proof of purchase
  • Make sure your pick-up station is always staffed and staff understand how to handle pick-up, returns and exchanges
  • Offer a one-day-only incentive to buy more items than the pick-up order, e.g. 10% off

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Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.