Store pickup is one of the greatest inventions. No longer do you need to wait for an item to be shipped or is it necessary to wait in line at the store to checkout. Browsing, researching, checking inventory and paying can all be done in the comfort of your home, office, car, etc.
Store pickup provides the convenience of ordering something online, then offering the instant gratification of getting your item(s) quickly by going to the store. It's a fantastic example of integrating the online and offline shopping experience. It's truly the best of both worlds.
When done properly, this can provide your customers with complete flexibility over the shopping experience and makes it more likely that you'll get repeat business. However, when done wrong, it can leave your customers frustrated and running to the competition.
The key is to synchronize the shopping experience.
I recently had an experience with Best Buy that left something to be desired. A new cellular phone went on sale at an attractive price. Due to the overwhelming response, all Las Vegas Best Buy retail stores were out of stock for weeks. Everyday, I would check their website, which conveniently provides inventory at the local store, to see if any of them had the item in stock.
Finally, one weekend, the phone I wanted was in stock and still available at the sale price. Since I had to return another item, I was simply going to purchase the item while at the store. When I arrived at the phone department, the sales representative told me that they were out of stock on that phone in all stores due to high demand. I let this person know that I was aware of this fact, but according to online inventory, this store now had the item listed as "in stock."
Without even checking the inventory, the representative sent me on my way. I was furious. To prove a point and because I really wanted the phone, I went to my car and ordered the phone for store pickup from the parking lot. By the time I got home, I had an email waiting for me letting me know the item was ready for pickup at the store.
It certainly was an inconvenience making me drive all the way home and back to get an item they clearly had in stock. I let the store manager know about my experience and she said she would talk with the sales representative about it. I have a feeling this wasn't an isolated case. This brings up the point that you need to ensure that your staff is aware of all customer buying options so they can be ready to help when the need arises.
Another example of a company properly synchronizing the online and offline shopping experience is Fry's Electronics. We at BannerView.com, wouldn't use the Frys.com website because it was run completely independent of their inline store. There was no synchronization between the products and inventory they offered online and what was available at their retail location.
Fry's now offers store pickup. As soon as we found this out, we placed an order online and picked up the item without any hiccups at their Las Vegas retail location. Then, we followed up with another trip to make a purchase at the retail store after verifying inventory via their website. That experience went without a hitch. We simply let a representative know what item we needed, they verified inventory onsite and provided us with the item to purchase.
For small to mid-sized business, synchronizing inventory online and off may seem like a daunting challenge, especially if the big guys have trouble. However, if you don't have a strategy in place to make it happen, you will lose customers to competitors that do make the process seamless.
One simple way to integrate the online and offline experience is to allow people to register for your newsletter at your store. Have a location by the register, waiting area, etc., where people can fill out a form or drop off a business card to get added to your email marketing list. This provides a great way to convert a walk-in customer to an online customer.
The opposite also works whereas you can advertise in-store only specials via your email newsletter. Who said you had to give up foot traffic to your inline store by using the Internet? Just ensure that your representatives are aware of the specials, whether they be online or off, so that they are ready to service your customers.
After 15+ years of the Internet being available to the average consumer, we all know that it isn't going to replace the brick and mortar store experience. What we have realized is that you better synchronize your online and offline shopping experience or you will be replaced by your competition!
|About the author
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS, the software that helps companies turn their websites into powerful business tools. Mark is also the author of the book "The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget." Read Mark's full biography. You can find him tweeting on Twitter and starring in videos for the company's YouTube channel.
Build your own website powered by BannerOS starting at only $9.95/mo.
Catch the buzz for biz online with in-depth articles about social media, search optimization, content publishing & other resources that help you successfully run your business online.
Subscribe and get a copy of our FREE eBook "SEO on the Go"
Build Brand Awareness Via Youth Sports
Three Ways to Get Steady Flows of Positive Online Reviews For Your Business
4 Ways To Build Virtual Connections Online to Boost Your Business
9 Tips for Online Store Success
that get the buzz for business online
Subscribe and get a copy of our FREE eBook "SEO on the Go"
Whitepapers, Infographics, & Quick Guides
What Email Campaign Schedules Generate the Most ROI?
Which Content Marketing Strategies Get the Best ROI?
Which Social Media Marketing Strategies Work Best?
Benefits of a Fully Functional & Optimized Website
E-commerce Growth in the Past Five Years
"Your business. Energized!" BannerView.com is the developer of BannerOS, a premier website analytics and content management software that powers businesses all across the Internet. Get a website built or make your own with our website builder; two great ways to get a website powered by BannerOS.