September 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

Online merchants are missing the mark with in-store pickup, study says

Many multichannel retailers that offer in-store pickup of online orders are turning the service into a form of free shipping but not taking advantage of its potential to generate more sales, The E-tailing Group says in a new study.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Many multichannel retailers that offer in-store pickup of online orders are turning the service into a form of free shipping without taking full advantage of its potential to generate more sales, research and advisory firm The E-Tailing Group Inc. says in the new report, "The Web as the Cross-Channel Hub."

The report is based on the findings of the firm’s 5th Annual Cross-Channel Shopping Survey, which The E-tailing Group conducted in the current quarter. The survey analyzed 40 retail web sites and 77 stores.

“Without the benefit of same-day or even next-day availability, in-store pickup merely serves as the best means for shoppers to garner free shipping, thus avoiding consumer resistance that might result from despised shipping and handling charges,” The E-tailing Group says. “Without accessible store associates trained to sell suggestively, in-store visits often miss the mark. Once at the store, one channel must enable and enhance the other via integrated merchandising, promotions and marketing for both merchants and consumers to win.”

The report also found:

  • 39% of merchants offer same-day pickup in stores of online orders, down from 54% in a year-ago survey.
  • Merchants take an average of 3.7 days to ship an online order to a store, compared to 4.7 days to ship directly to a consumer.
  • 28% of merchants offering in-store pickup process pickups at a designated counter, 82% of which are easy to find.
  • 53% of merchants locate their pickup area at a general cash register area, 14% at a customer service counter and 4% in an in-store business center.
  • 41% of merchants provide effective in-store signage to help customers find pickup counters.

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