Our Thinking

How Shopping and Shipping Options Affect Customer Experience

By Ed Higdon. Posted in Uncategorized

January 28, 2015

The volume of online sales continues to skyrocket and retailers have been struggling to position themselves to handle the continuing shift. It seems that no matter how hard some retailers try, they simply cannot outpace the behemoth of online retail– Amazon.

Amazon has perfected the art of delivering products to consumers quickly and efficiently. But brick-and-mortar stores are exploring ways to provide their customers with more options for shopping, shipping, and delivery in order to make their lives easier and to compete directly with online giants like Amazon and eBay.

The 4 Retail Shopping And Shipping Models

The four basic models of retail purchases that retailers offer today’s customers:

  1. Buy in-store: The classic in-store shopping experience. Customers visit a store with a particular item in mind, or simply to browse, and they make a purchase.
  2. Buy online: Customers visit a website, browse options, and make a purchase.
  3. Buy online, pick up in-store: Customers purchase an item online, and pick it up in the store.
  4. Ship-from-store: The customer orders an item which is shipped directly from the store instead of from a distribution center.

Each of these models provides its own unique benefits to customers, however in-store pickup and ship-from-store are two contemporary options that retailers should consider adopting to compete with online shopping and delivery.

Buy Online, Pickup In-Store: Eliminates Traditional Customer Pain Points

It might seem counterintuitive to think that ordering online and driving to a store to pick up an item is convenient. However, customers prove time and again that they like this option. In-store pickup eliminates the hassles of traditional online ordering, such as the long delivery times and costly shipping expenses. Likewise, it eliminates some of the headaches of looking in-store for an item, such as out of stock merchandise.

Using the buy online, pickup in-store model, customers can see online in real-time whether or not their preferred location has an item in stock. They make the purchase and pick up the item that same day, no shipping charges incurred, and no long lines to wait in. Individuals can order an item on their coffee break and they are guaranteed it will be waiting for them at the service desk on their way home from work. Online retailers are hard-pressed to offer this type of same-day, convenient customer experience.

Ship-From-Store: The Solution That Pleases Buyers And Retailers

Ship-from-store is not a new option in retail; for years, retail stores have shipped items between locations in an effort to manage inventory and meet customer needs. Recently, however, retailers have discovered that ship-from-store can create an even smoother customer experience.

Ship-from-store allows customers to order an item online and have it shipped to them from a store, rather than from a distribution center. The item comes from a nearby retail location that has the product in stock, so shipping time is fast and efficient, and in many cases, free.

Not only does ship-from-store benefit the customer placing the order, but it also benefits the retailer. Ship-from-store is an efficient way to manage inventory and margins. When product sits on shelves, the store has to drop the price. With ship-from-store, however, those items can be sent to a customer who paid full price for that item. It cuts down on warehousing and distribution costs, as well.

Creating a great customer experience is all about options. Shoppers have their own unique preferences when it comes to buying, and the more choices they have, the better. By giving customers multiple ways to purchase and receive products while reducing their wait time to receive those products, retailers can build strong relationships and build deep customer loyalty – while competing directly with online giants.