Why You Should Offer In-Store Pickup (Even If You Don’t Have A Physical Store)

Feb 25, 2016 by Jesse Ness, Ecwid Team
Posted Feb 25, 2016 by Jesse Ness, Ecwid Team

The best omni-channel e-commerce outlets offer a variety of ways for customers to receive their products. Conventional shipping through UPS or the postal service is certainly the most common, but have you ever considered going toe-to-toe with the big dogs and offering a service that only the most premium retailers offer?

It’s time to think about offering in-store pickup for your items.

There are many reasons that customers prefer the BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) option, but here are a few:

  1. This allows customers to avoid shipping costs, especially when it is more convenient for them to get it on their time anyhow.
  2. They can make sure the product is available. One of the worst feelings as a customer is travel to pick up a product and find out after you’ve arrived at the store that it isn’t in stock. Save your customers from that headache.
  3. It helps them avoid taking the time to find the product somewhere else. Time is money, and if the customer has to put too much effort into spending their money, they’ll get discouraged and find other options.
  4. They can buy now and pick up later. I ordered some art not too long ago, but it was going to take a few weeks to arrive. During this time, another store was offering wall shelves that the art would look great on. I was able to order the shelving and pick it up once my art arrived.
  5. They can also purchase the product and have someone else pick it up. Customers that are out of the area can purchase product that they want a friend or family member to pick up. This is ideal if you want to also get a gift for someone, but you are concerned that they will not be home when the delivery arrives.

As an e-commerce store operator, you are probably asking yourself, “How in the world can I offer in-store pickup?” Perhaps you’d don’t want the average customer knocking on your warehouse to pick up purchases, but consider the sales that in-store pickup can bring in, especially when that pickup is quick, painless, and in a central location.

Make use of business partners

In order to offer in-store pickup, you are going to want to determine locations that you can easily deliver products to. If you have been partnering with any local businesses, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of that working relationship. Offer to keep minimal product at their store for customers to pick up in person as they order it from you.

Let’s take a quick look at advantages to having your business partners operate as pick up locations:

  1. The benefit to your partner is that the customer will physically walk into the store to pick up their purchase, adding an opportunity for your partner to win new business as well. You are scratching their back for scratching yours.
  2. This is also a matter of convenience for your customer as well. By working with centralized partners, you can make sure that BOPIS options aren’t out of the way for anyone that wants to use the services.

There are also disadvantages to using business partners as BOPIS locations as well:

  1. The location needs to reputable and respected by its existing customers.. The last thing you want to do is lead a customer to a bad pickup experience even if you have done your part. Their customer service reflects on you..
  2. You will also be sending stock out that you don’t have direct contact with. Without being able to physically touch the stock, you will have to rely on partners to make sure that the product is indeed acceptable quality and the correct expectations are being given in a way that is in alignment with your business.

If you are relying on partnering business heavily, you may want to consider some form of financial compensation for them as well. In the best-case scenario, they’ll be keeping an eye on your customer while also making sure they get their order. A happy partner is a good partner.

Use that pop-up shop

If you are setting up a pop-up shop in a location like a local mall, this is a prime opportunity to make use of in-store pickup. You will be able to drive sales in a way that food truck operators make a living day to day.

If you will be making your product available for pickup at a pop-up shop, you need to make sure that customer knows when you will be there and the timeframes they can come by. Pop-up shops are short- to medium-term ventures, so you really want to avoid setting the wrong expectation for the customer; you’ll let them down the next time want to use the feature. If you will be moving locations, make sure they know where to find you.

Advantages to using a pop-up shop option can be:

  1. If you are personally operating your pop-up shop, the customer can meet you at your location and simply pick up their order in person, saving you the trouble of shipping it. This actually creates a ton of opportunity for you as well, because getting to meet the customer face-to-face will create a much more personalized relationship going forward
  2. It also gives you hands-on opportunity to grow your business as well. It will easily plant the seeds that grow into larger purchases down the road; the customer learns to trust your business and gets to know the people who actually run it.

Disadvantages to using BOPIS at a pop-up shop location can include:

  1. Without having long-term solutions to a pickup location, you will absolutely have customers that become reliant on your location being where you have had it. Once you relocate, you may risk losing their business.
  2. You are still going to have to depend your pop-up shop location working in conjunction with a larger host. If you are using a coffee shop, rush times may create an inconvenience for the customer. Parking and other events can also impact the ease with which a customer can arrive within the allotted time periods.

Simply put, keep the lines of communication open and you should have no issues.

Work with affiliates

Are you working with any other companies that have any sort of physical location? Product suppliers, manufacturers, home outlets? See if you can have a small inventory placed at their locations for customers in the area to visit and pick up.

There are some really great advantages to working with your affiliates that will grow your business as well:

  1. These diverse locations will create opportunities to see how different areas respond to different product types. This can help you grow product selection and will allow you to offer more opportunities for impulse purchases outside of your immediate area.
  2. This may also help you strengthen your relationship with your affiliates, opening doors to more opportunities down the road.

On the other side of the coin there are absolutely disadvantages to having affiliates double as in-store pickup locations.

  1. These are places that make your business happen, you don’t want to create any form of inconvenience for them. Straining that relationship is going to put a pinch on you and that is no good.
  2. Also, they aren’t anywhere that you’ve physically been before, you want to make sure that they are located in places that your customers will actually visit. Business and industrial parks can work well, but if they are in a hard-to-reach area or somewhere that doesn’t seem to safe, then obviously don’t send your customers there.

Do it yourself

Don’t have any of these fancy options available to you but still want to offer more flexible options for local customers? Good thing there are still numerous ways to do so. Utilize public places like the local flea market, local events, sporting events, and the like.

Make sure that if you use these options, you schedule them in advance so customers can plan to meet you. Importantly, you’d do well to bring additional product with you. If a customer should change his or her mind en route to meet you and want more than what they actually purchased for, you’re able to accommodate. Surprise and delight your customers by being a well-prepared mindreader.

The biggest advantage to doing it yourself is that no one can run your business better than you. Having the owner/operator/proprietor on hand will give you a chance to not only make sure the customer feels welcome, but also that you have pride in your business. Even better, you don’t have to worry about creating any financial commitments to anyone outside of your business either, Which helps you keep an eye on the overhead.

Conversely, they are some major disadvantages to rolling up your sleeves and doing this yourself too. You don’t want to suddenly find yourself operating as a personal delivery service. Doing so will take valuable time out of operating your storefront and create more problems than it solves. Your time is the most important thing as a business owner and out in the field, you’ll have to multitask just to stay afloat.

How to make it happen with Ecwid

Option 1:

Fortunately, Ecwid can facilitate some of the behind-the-scenes work associated with in-store pickups. The process is simple:

  1. Go to Ecwid control panel → Settings → Shipping → User-defined Shipping Methods tab.
  2. Click “New shipping method” button.
  3. Set shipping method name (for example, “Free pickup”).
  4. Set Weight Limits, if needed.
  5. Leave 0 in rate fields.
  6. Click “Save” button.

Using this method will also allow you to avoid flat-rate shipping as well. Enjoy it! Just be sure that you are only offering in-store pickup to customers that are in your local area.

Option 2:

Use In Store Pick-Up  app for Ecwid. This app lets you show pickup location options and your user can select the most convenient place and time. The app has a user friendly interface which makes sure the setup and management of pickup orders are simple and straightforward.

Notification and order statuses are very important. Customers will get anxious if you don’t keep clear and open channels of communication when their money is on the line. Many competing outlets don’t take into consideration the pillars of waiting science (“Occupied Time,” “Uncertainty,” “Unanticipated,” “Unfair,” “Alone”).  Making sure that you use a proper notification system that addresses this will afford you longer wait/fulfillment times without hurting the customer experience. This will not only help your customer, but you as well.

Here are two methods for using Ecwid’s notification tools and statuses to your advantage, If you follow these stems, you’ll have no issues.

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When you offer in-store pickup, you distinguish your brand as a more-major player. It can require some tedious logistics, but the customers that want it will find it a total godsend. Have fun moving your product!

About The Author
Jesse is the Marketing Manager at Ecwid and has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves to work with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.

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