Retailers Struggling With In-Store Pickup This Holiday Season

Image courtesy of (Mike Mozart)

Ordering an item online and picking it up at the local outlet of a chain retailer is a great advance in e-commerce, but it seems more convenient than it is. Even when everything is working smoothly, it doesn’t actually save shoppers any time. The service hasn’t been operating smoothly at many retailers this holiday season, though: is it doomed to end up in the trash bin of business ideas that seemed like a good idea at the time?

The Washington Post shared the story of a Kmart customer who showed up at the store when she received an e-mail that her order was ready, then had to wait around for an hour and a half for the store to actually get her order ready. That’s an extreme example, but shouldn’t be happening.

Yet it is. A study looking at online orders on Cyber Monday showed that 60% of the transactions had problems. StellaService, a company that tests and reports on customer service, found that 25% of these transactions across the whole holiday season had problems.

Retailers are even struggling with the question of what they should call the service: “in-store pickup” or “store pickup” are shot but don’t make the part where the item was ordered online clear. We’ve seen “click and collect,” “click and mortar,” and “bricks and clicks” used in industry publications, and they all make us cringe.

Customers have come to expect profit-gobbling free shipping, and collecting their item from a store is a reasonable alternative, especially when in a hurry.

Buy online, pick up in store. Simple, right? Not this Christmas. [Washington Post]

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