In-Store Pickup Tips for Multichannel Retailers

With the holiday Christmas shopping officially underway, and many holiday shoppers using the internet to ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) – offering ship-to-store services to online customers is a competitive advantage to multi-channel retailers.

Here are some tips to ensure a satisfying online and offline experience of your ship-to-store service for your customers:

On-Site Messaging and Usability

Because ship-to-store is a key customer service, it needs to be communicated well throughout your site (to remind customers you offer it, and to inform first-time visitors about it, regardless of which “landing page” attracts the visitor — it might not be your home page).

Wal-Mart does a great job at branding its “Site-To-Store” service throughout the site, and even uses a unique icon for it – including it in the navigation header, search and category results and product pages:

Navigation / Header

Category Pages

Product Pages

Estimated Arrival Date

Wal-Mart also uses an estimated arrival date for various shipping methods. It uses an absolute date which is better than “3-7 business days” which is not as clear to the customer (requires some mental gymnastics).

Wal-mart also leverages its meta description:

Other areas Wal-Mart could flaunt (like free shipping offers) its Site-to-Store service are email subject lines, pay-per-click ads and shopping engine data feed promo fields.

It’s also a good idea to have a functioning store-lookup tool from every product page, and a link to your ship-to-store policy. Don’t forget to explain which items are eligible for in-store pickup (e.g. perishable items or very heavy, oversized products). You may consider offering a policy that if it’s not there on time for any reason, customer receives a gift card (similar to Best Buy’s arrival date guarantee).

Ship to Store Customer Service Recommendations

  • Make store shipping free
  • Offer an express shipping offer for a premium
  • Ask customer to indicate notification preference – email, telephone (even SMS)
  • Send confirmation email post-purchase with store information – location, hours of operation, telephone number and even Google Map
  • State how long you will hold merchandise for
  • Send email when order is available for pick-up, or call customer if that’s an indicated preference
  • Explain what the customer is required to present as identification/proof of purchase
  • Make sure your pick-up station is always staffed and staff understand how to handle pick-up, returns and exchanges
  • Offer a one-day-only incentive to buy more items than the pick-up order, e.g. 10% off

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9 Responses to “In-Store Pickup Tips for Multichannel Retailers”

  1. I set up a secondhand offline consignment store near Amsterdam linked up with the local version of Craigslist ( to help “ROPO” customers. Customers love it.

  2. The biggest problem is not being able to buy your relative a gift and have them pick up from the store. I know that is a security issues, but please I am sure they can figure this out. I had this issue at Best Buy

  3. Cathy says:

    You wrote a great article, thank you. But there is one thing small businesses can do better than Walmart and that is the actual pickup. Have you ever seen the lines at their customer service desk? That in itself would make me wait for UPS to come to my door.

  4. Leigh says:

    I have used the Site to Store feature before and the pick up area in the store is not the same as the Customer Service area. They have a designated area just for Site to Store pick up.

    Also, a lot of online retailers do offer electronic gift cards that will be emailed directly to the recipient.

  5. Brandon says:

    Great article, I am an avid reader of Get Elastic.

    I just wanted to point out, in the Meta description example above, Walmart does not actually list that information in their descriptions. If a Web page has no Meta description or it isn’t relevant to a searcher’s query, Google will attempt to generate one from the page content. This is an example.

    If you visit a similar URL: you can see that the information being used is the availability info for a single toy and the Meta description is actually “Shop Low Prices on Toys, Action Figures, Transformers.”

  6. Hi Brandon,

    Good catch, looks like Walmart’s only using its value proposition in it’s home page meta description. I’d suggest they put it in all the pages, and cut down on their keyword stuffing!

    You’re right, you can’t control when Google will pull the meta or the snippet. I still think it’s a good idea to have the value prop in there, and on the page so it may appear in the snippet.


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  8. Abhi says:

    Misleading title article, Instore pick up and Ship to Store are not exactly the same.
    This article looks like a college grad approach to understand Ship To Store offered by Walmart.

  9. Hi Abhi, yes, it depends on how the item is fulfilled – from a warehouse or other store location, or through the local store, in which case delivery tips are irrelevant and can simply be ignored. Walmart is used only as an example to illustrate as it does several things well in terms of communicating the service option.

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