In-Store Pickup and Store Locator Usability

Guess what? People like to shop online (or by cellphone) and pick up in-store. We all love research to back up our theories, so here goes:

“Jupiter Research states that 51% of consumers are researching on the Internet and then completing their purchases offline; online research influences more than $400 billion of in-store sales and projections call for that sum to surpass $1.1 trillion by 2012.

A Gartner Group study reveals 68% of consumers are comparing prices online before shopping in a physical store and 58% locate items online before going to a store to purchase; only 13% say the Internet has not improved their in-store shopping experience.”


The e-Tailing Group is offering a report of the Buy Online/Pick-Up In-Store Experience. The study sent mystery shoppers to 23 retail stores who offer in-store pickup to report on their customer experience. I won’t rehash the findings of the study here, I’ll leave you to getting those goodies yourself. Today I want to zoom in on what you might think is a minor detail: the Store Locator page. I hit up a few of the top 100-some etailers of 2006 and I offer you the following tips:

1. People usually hate typing and filling in forms — it slows us down. Help us out by offering the option to search by zipcode or city/state, and make it obvious we have a choice. Or bypass forms altogether.

Bed Bath and Bodyworks


It sounds like you have to enter all information, but the 2 submit buttons indicate you have a choice. Most people won’t get that, so just stick a little “or” between ‘em like:

Circuit City


Circuit City rocks it with a very clear form. Bonus points for using the asterisk convention to indicate required fields and saving us more thinking.



Hallmark likes to make things look difficult — you don’t reeeally have to enter your whole address, just a city and zipcode. Since I’m positive “90210″ is in California, I was able to test it, but found the store results could be improved by showing all locations on one page rather than showing 4 pages with 4 stores per page.

The Gap


The Gap explains that you don’t have to fill in all the fields but the more info you divulge the better your results. But Gap assumes that people read instructions (more often than not we DON’T as that requires extra thinking). What I love is you can check multiple boxes to find specific types of Gap stores. Nice touch.



Hey, who even needs city? Footlocker’s search-like-a-guy cuts right to the chase and works great.


My favorite has to be BestBuy because my right hand never had to abandon mouse. 2 clicks and I had the info I wanted sans-keyboard.



2. If you’re using a cutesy icon like Circuit City, provide a link in the footer for those of us who will check there first. It took me about a minute to find the link. There is sort-of a link in the footer — the “24/24 Pickup Guarantee” which is cool, but not the same.

3. Don’t get fancy with your link text. Eddie Bauer’s “Store Nearest You” is easily overlooked by a seasoned web shopper scanning a page for “Store Locator.” “Find a Store” is a common variant, but the extra word is superfluous. Use the convention.

Now, violating any of these tips isn’t going to make the user experience that terrible…but optimal ecommerce web design errs on the side of easy-for-users. These are my user-experience observations and are not “rules.” As with anything, you’ll need to design your store locator according to what makes most sense for your situation.

Related Articles

8 Responses to “In-Store Pickup and Store Locator Usability”

  1. [...] 7, 2007 A lot of articles on the Internet (for instance iMedia, getElastic, searchengineland) and our own data indicate that people like to buy online, but prefer to close [...]

  2. I agree that the foot locker zip code only is appealing. And 90% of the time I try to just type a zip and submit.
    But a few weeks ago I was in Philadelphia visiting friends and I was searching on my Blackberry but had no idea what zip codes were even in the city.

  3. Ahh Timothy, that’s an excellent point and a strong argument for including the City option.

    It also helps for Canadians writing blog posts and who only know one US zipcode off by heart ;-)

  4. [...] for low-stocked items sitting in an abandoned cart. • Detailed post on shipping cutoff dates. • Store locator usability examples and [...]

  5. [...] for low-stocked items sitting in an abandoned cart. • Detailed post on shipping cutoff dates. • Store locator usability examples and [...]

  6. Jamiahra says:

    I wanted to try locating stores all oer detroit area and it was oly showing six stores when I put in the zip codes. I wanted more than six stores but this website stinks as it is all grayed out you can even use it unless you type in a specific zip code. I would prefer to get listing for the main city and suburbs. I could be travelling anywhere in that city and should be able to find a store.

  7. [...] who are researching an offline purchase. For years multichannel retailers like Sears have provided store finders, in store inventory lookup tools and pick up in store capabilities. All of these tools require the [...]

  8. Hello this was a great article. What gave you the inspiration to write it? I was looking for a way to subscribe but couldn’t see one? Thanks for the post, hope to hear back from you. thanks :)

Leave a Reply

© 2014 Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog. All rights reserved. Site Admin · Entries RSS · Comments RSS