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
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