While REI is netting impressive gains from its in-store pickup service for online orders – averaging $80 to $90 in incremental sales from participating customers – store employees have played a key role ever since the idea was generated over a year ago, Joan Broughton, vice president of multi-channel retailing, tells Internet Retailer.
“We pay a lot of attention to our employees in the stores, because they’re with the customers every day,” she says.
Since June 2003, REI has been letting customers order online – which they can now also do on in-store kiosks – and request free shipping to an REI store. Because REI loads their orders onto the next truck scheduled to make a regular delivery to the requested store, it doesn’t have to charge an extra shipping fee. Store pickups now account for 30-45% of online orders, Broughton says.
Store employees generated the idea for a store pickup system after noting that it was difficult for them to suggest that customers place orders online – and pay for shipping – for products they couldn’t find in the store. “That’s a hard thing to have to tell customers, so store employees asked if there was a way customers could order online and not have to pay for shipping,” Broughton says.
REI continued to involve employees from multiple departments as it rolled out its store pickup program. Employees from the online, store, customer support and other operations worked along with IT staff to devise the system. “We had people from every part of our business so we could understand what level of service was needed,” Broughton says. For example, distribution center employees specially label packages designated for store pickups and separate them from other store shipments, making it easier on store employees to quickly process store pickup orders when customers arrive.