September 7, 2006, 12:00 AM

More retailers let online shoppers check store inventory, study says

As more multi-channel retailers offer in-store pick-up of online orders, more are also letting online shoppers check availability of store inventory, a study released yesterday by The E-Tailing Group says. But shoppers find many items out of store stock.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

As more multi-channel retailers offer in-store pick-up of online orders, more are also letting shoppers first check availability of store inventory, a study released yesterday by The E-Tailing Group Inc. says. But the study, based on the reports of mystery shoppers who tested store pick-up services, shows that fewer orders are available for same-day store pick-up because products have to be shipped in from warehouses.

53% of retailers let online shoppers check inventory availability in the store where they plan to pick up an order, up from 47% last year, according to the third-quarter 2006 study, which is included in the report, “Expectations of the Cross-Channel Customer: Convenience and Control from Online to In-Store.”

But only 43% of products ordered during the study were available for store pick-up because the chosen store was out of the requested stock. In addition, the study notes that only 56% of products shopped online were available for same-day in-store pickup, because they’re not usually kept in stores and must be shipped in from a warehouse.

The study also found that in Q3 2006:
• The average time online shoppers waited in stores was 3.64 minutes, up slightly from 3.5 minutes a year ago.
• 50% of retailers required in-store payment for items ordered online for in-store pick-up, up from 33% a year ago.
• 28% of retailers allowed shoppers to pre-pay online for in-store pick-up, down from 33% a year ago.
• 57% of retailers allowed up to eight days for online shoppers to pick up their orders, down from 70% a year ago, while 43% allowed up to 14 days, up from 30%.
• 71% of store pick-up counters were easy to find, up from 60%.
• 47% of store pick-up staff were “friendly,” down from 63%, and 17% were described as “helpful/efficient,” up from 10%.

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