The Christmas shopping season is upon us!
Typically, that would mean busy days for brick and mortar retailers, with heavy foot traffic and a significant increase in sales activity. However, as we have seen throughout 2020, the “typical” is almost always atypical this year, and while shopping at neighborhood stores will certainly factor into many shoppers’ plans, there is no doubt that some will instead turn to online shopping to tackle their Christmas shopping.
This change in shopping habits opens the door for retailers to reinforce the message that, whether their customers choose to make a purchase online or in their store or, they can always expect to receive the superior customer service they deserve.
What to expect this holiday season
Online shopping has been steadily on the rise ever since ecommerce platforms entered the world of retail marketing. Trust in this new technological based shopping method took a while to catch on with customers, but during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic the trend accelerated exponentially. More shoppers than ever before began using ecommerce platforms as a healthy alternative to in store shopping and quickly found that it is a viable option for shopping any time they need to find good quality products.
In a study conducted in September 2020 by BlackFriday.com and Survey Gizmo, they found that “30% of respondents plan to shop during Cyber Monday sales, but only 24% plan to shop during Black Friday sales.” Along with that, the way customers receive their purchases has also changed. Half of the survey’s respondents were counting on arranging for curbside or contactless pickup during the holiday season as a safe and easy alternative to entering a streetside store.
It’s time to think about your “buy online, pick up in store” strategies.
Benefits for customers
While health concerns are top of mind for some ecommerce shoppers, the benefits of buying online and picking up in store go far beyond accommodating safety recommendations.
1. More choices for customers
Shoppers expect to be the in the driver’s seat when they make a purchase at a retail store. By giving them more options in how they receive their purchases, you are proving that their needs are an important part of your business model.
2. No shipping costs
Customers want to get the most out of their money. Offering a buy online, pick up in store option eliminates the costs associated with shipping and delivery that can add a significant amount to the final cost. This frees up your customer to purchase even more products from your store.
3. Shorter shipping times
Individual purchases shipped directly to a customer’s home could add several extra days to the trip from the warehouse to the scheduled address. By offering a buy online, pick up in store option, customers can speed up the time it takes to receive the product by adding it to a prescheduled shipment that is already being packed to go to their neighborhood store. A quick stop at their favorite neighborhood location, and they’ve potentially shaved off weeks of waiting for the product they ordered.
4. Fewer returns
It’s a fact that not every purchase works out perfectly for the customer. When customers choose to buy online and pick up in store, they have the opportunity to look the item over prior to taking it home. It’s a convenience that reinforces the message that you take care of your customers, resulting in stronger brand loyalty.
5. Quick service
Customer loyalty is largely based on how responsive they feel the retailer has been to their needs. By providing on-the-spot, friendly service at a in store pick up, you can fulfill your promise of outstanding customer service every time they stop into your streetside store to pick up their online purchase.
6. Greater system integration
When a customer purchases a product online, they are providing key information that will result in a closer relationship with the retailer. Loyalty programs and advanced sales can be extended to them during their next visit to the store or online, and all their payment information is already part of the system for a quick and easy check out process.
Benefits for retailers
Not only does the buy online, pick up in store policy benefit the customer; it also benefits the retailer.
1. Increase sales opportunities
When you offer a buy online, pick up in store option, you are creating a multi-layered, cross-channel selling opportunity. First customers complete their purchase online, then, when they visit your streetside store to pick up their purchase, they have the potential to add even more things to their shopping cart when they see your products in person, attaching even more revenue to the original sale.
2. Lower shipping costs
Free shipping is a great way to encourage more sales from customers, but the added cost to the retailer can be prohibitive. By offering a buy online, pick up in store alternative, retailers can assuage that extra burden of having individual shipments going through major residential carriers and instead add the product to a truck that is already scheduled to go to the store at no extra cost to the retailer.
3. Better inventory management
Retailers often find that inventory management is more easily achieved when the customer can come into the store to pick up their online purchase. Most retailers process their orders out of one warehouse, but the products are sold both online and in the store. Without a customizable integration tool that connects their POS system and ecommerce platform’s sales activity, their shared inventory count has the potential to be vastly incorrect.
4. Increased impulse buys
The holiday season is also the season for impulse buying. Stuffing those stockings means a lot of little purchases the customer hadn’t expected to make, but that type of buying activity doesn’t typically happen online. By offering a pick up in store option you’ll be bringing those customers into your store where those impulse buys typically happen.
The buy online, pick up in store strategy
When mapping out your buy online, pick up in store strategy pay close attention to the customer experience. Provide adequate storage space for the customer-facing activity as well as product storage, make sure your store carries the same or similar products that can be found online, and provide the signage and guidance needed to move a crowd through the process efficiently during especially busy times in the store.
The buy online, pick up in store alternative
Make it as simple as possible for your customers to take advantage of the buy online, pick up in store option. Create a plan for your brick and mortar store that accommodates the online customers, with a designated area devoted just to them. Make impulse buy products readily available along the way and create an easy to use website or buying app that is seamlessly connected through the highly customizable Retail Dimensions RD-Ice Integration Engine to ensure all the information needed to complete the fulfillment order is accurate and up to date. Do this, and your customer will return to your online and streetside store for years to come!