October 29, 2003

Circuit City, Sears lead in study of in-store pickup

Circuit City Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. stood out among the other surveyed retailers due to their personalized service, it says.

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Circuit City, Sears lead in study of in-store pickup

Although only half of stores surveyed had online-ordered products available for same-day pickup, multi-channel retailers are showing strong execution of in-store pickup services, according to a study by The E-Tailing Group Inc. Circuit City Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. stood out among the other surveyed retailers due to their personalized service, it says.

"Overall we found that this feature was very well executed," said Lauren Freedman, president of The E-Tailing Group, which surveyed ten retailers. She added that retailers pick-up locations were clearly designated, and that pick-up transactions typically took under five minutes to complete. For 9 out of the 10 retailers surveyed, she added, ordered items were readily available at the pick-up area as scheduled.

Among Circuit Citys strong points: Merchandise was ready for pick-up the same day; dedicated staff processed pick-ups; the store pick-up area was easy to find; and it allows 14 days to pick up merchandise.

E-Tailing cited Sears for the self-service kiosk it provides in the customer pick-up area. After the customer types in her phone number, a screen shows the order to be picked up. When an e-tailing researcher tested the system, the kiosk noted on its screen that the order would be ready in less than five minutes and promised a discount on a future purchase if it took longer than 5 minutes. "The associate came out less than four minutes later with the item," E-Tailing says. It adds that Sears had e-mailed an order confirmation explaining how to pick up the order with detailed instructions on how to use the kiosk.

While only 5 of the 10 surveyed retailers had the ordered items available for same-day pickup, it the average wait among the other stores was seven days, the study found. It also found that 8 of the 10 retailers e-mailed a notification advising that the ordered product was available for pick-up; of those, 75% included store hours and 63% included pick-up processing instructions.

The survey also noted that half of the retailers e-mailed customers about the number of days that a product would be held for pick-up, and that the average number of days was 10.75. Four of the 10 retailers provided a separate designated pick-up area, while three provided pick-up at a cash register and three at a customer service area.

Freedman offers the following checklist for providing best-in-class store pick-up of online orders:
1. Train your personnel in how your store pick-up process works;
2. Make it free to deliver the product to the store;
3. Provide clear and intuitive instructions on how the pick-up process will work: how many days the product will be held along with the store location including store hours and phone number;
4. State allowable time frame to pick-up merchandise on Web; in email confirmation and allow for a reasonable number of days to pick-up once customer has been notified (14 days);
5. Alert customers by email when merchandise is ready for store pick-up;
6. Follow-up with subsequent store pick-up email reminders;
7. Have at minimum a designated customer service area for pick-ups and adequately man those counters with trained personnel;
8. Store packages in a specific location known to all customer service personnel;
9. Encourage shoppers to make additional purchases while visiting the store;
10. Facilitate an easy return should the merchandise not be right for the customer.

Posted by Craig at October 29, 2003 08:48 PM