Here’s The Problem With Kmart’s Layaway System

A former Kmart employee and frequent tipster who used to work at Kmart has read our recent stories about problems with Kmart layaway, and was able to offer some insights as to why layaway orders placed online are going wrong. Maybe.

Unless they’ve changed the policy for Online Layaways in the last few months, there’s one big issue with this: Online Layaways are not shipped, at all.

How it worked for me was as such:

1) Customer goes online, puts items in their “shopping cart”, and is given the option to have the items put on layaway, either when placing it into the cart or before going through the checkout process.

2) The customer selects what store will be processing the order, to which then the website check that’s store’s on-hand for the items, since the items won’t be shipped from the Distribution Center to the store, functioning like most “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” orders for the store (The “Order will be ready in two hours” type).

3) Upon completion of the checkout by the customer, the order for the Layaway is compiled by the website, and sent to the store, normally done within 15 minutes, but sometimes delays can occur, normally no more than 90 minutes.

4) A store associate print out the order and list of where the items are in the store, and the items are search for by one or more associates, depending as to how that store handles orders.

5) If not all the items can be found, due to product be damaged, already in another shopper’s cart, on-hand error, item is part of an assortment (like with toys, such as dolls, action figures, puzzles, etc) the associate can do one of two things

a) “Pack” what items were able to be located, with an email automatically sent to the customer to approve the order or
b) In the event of an item missing due to Assortment Issue, the customer can be contacted to see if a substitution for another item in the Assortment is wished (unlike BOPI orders substitutions of any other kind are not allowed).

6) If all items are found, or the customer approves the incomplete order, the order can then be processed by the POS, the same one used by an in-store customer, and is automatically processed by the register, all the associate does is input the store level order number, which is not normally the customers order number.

7) At this point, the order is no longer handled by the online associates, all that can be done by the website is accept payments or cancellations, since the order is now in the domain of the Layaway department, and is now subject to all the policies of Layaway, one of which is price adjustment, which can only be done in the first week of the Layaway, at least at the store that I worked at.

Also, the system is not fully integrated, each store, including every website, is not always capable of communicating with each other. If an item on the website is listed as being an online only item, do not be surprised if you have issues returning it to the store. There is a way to do so, but it not well known, since this process is not limited to online orders, and it results in that store, not the company, eating the full value of the return, not getting any money back.

It’s done as both a no receipt and general department return, which results in not being able to resell the item, since there is no store level code to sell it under, or get back any credit for it, since it’s not an item sold by that store. So very few associates even know about this process, since using it causes flags in the system, and can result in being written up or fired if overused, as well as in most cases a return has the UPC code, most hardlines items have it on their package and softlines have it on the clothes tags. If it’s not in the system it is normally regarded as being from a competitor, or has not been sold by Kmart for longer than the return window, so it won’t be accepted.

Thanks, Former Kmart Tipster! That sounds inefficient, and frustrating.

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