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Posts Tagged ‘Inventory’

Connecting Store pick-up with Web sales

April 14, 2011 1 comment

Wanted to write down a great multi-channel customer journey I had the other day, and elaborate a bit on the brick-and-mortar companies challenges with online pure play competition. I’ve previously written a bit on channel strengths focusing on call centre vs web, but not much about the brick-and mortar stores. One key strength is the delivery without the middleman, the freedom for the customer with an urgent need to pick up the goods (caveat for opening hours & location of course). Another is the superior ability for skilled salespeople to up- & cross-sell compared to the web.

Snail Mail

Picture of a middle man working hard to deliver the goods bought online quickly and efficiently to the waiting customer

So our vacuum cleaner broke down after 13 years of good service (thank you Electrolux). Panic! This is Saturday afternoon, having guests on Sunday and in a desperate need to clean. Given that regular mail is not delivered on Sundays in this country, I realized I had to visit a store.  I was unhappy with that.

My customer journey: Like most people nowadays I started doing online research to understand the options and what it would cost me. I used sites such as Prisjakt to compare options. I found a best-in-test site and decided to go for the test winner.

I eventually ended up at Elgigantens product page for the vacuum cleaner, wanting to see if it was in stock and where I could go to buy it. Lucky me, just next to the Buy button I see two key things.

  1. It is in stock
  2. I can collect it in store. Within one hour! Great!
Screenshot from Elgigantens product page

Screenshot from Elgigantens product page

At this point, I am so focused on completing my task that I don’t even bother to check other stores. The convenience and certainty I feel that I will get a good product at a decent price, within my time constraint, is enough to convert me into a customer. An hour later I pick up my purchase, the salesperson upsells me on accessories (another 10% revenue probably at good margins), and I’m going home happy. And now the customer journey ends with a positive blogpost about the product & customer experience. Good work online Elgiganten!
Switching focus to the business side, there is some good reading on how Nordstrom is connecting stores inventory to online.
Inventory was a big issue, too. If Nordstrom.com did not have the item someone wanted, it was not as if the customer would wait for the company to restock it, Mr. Nordstrom said. “If we don’t have it, you’re going to go back to Google and say, ‘Who else has it?’ ” he said. “We have 115 full-line stores out there — chances are one of them has it.”
I am not sure if Elgiganten is doing that already.
More good information from the article – apparently an impact on Nordstrom’s call center load as well:
Nordstrom began overhauling its online approach two years ago, adding the option to shop and buy online and pick up the item in a store. “It was the first thing that we did, because the No. 1 call we got at our call center was, ‘Hey, I’m looking at this item online, can I look at it at my store?’ ” Mr. Nordstrom said.

In addition to the great customer experience this creates, note that the time constraint I was under ruled out the somewhat cheaper online pure players from the competition. Price was not my main driver, completing the task was.

To summarize the key things that created a great customer experience and persuaded me

  • Pick up within one hour, great benchmark for others going this route
  • Visible placement, next to the buy button before entering the checkout process
  • Clear information on the website about the feature
  • Inventory status visible – I knew it would be there
  • I could choose where to pick it up
Not bad.

What could Elgiganten have done better with this feature? I think they could improve three main things.

  • The in-store experience. It was unclear to me where to pick up my goods in the store, I felt confused and stood in the wrong line waiting for 10 minutes. The information on the web & in the order email was clear, but when arriving at the store I could not recall the details. I had just noted down the order number on my iPhone.
  • Post-purchase communication. I should have received an email thanking me for using the website and directing me to their online customer service for the product I bought, FAQs for the product or similar. Check out this example (in Swedish)
  • Advertising the feature of Collect@Store in the store was lacking. Visible in-store advertising would also raise awareness for their offline customers on what the website can offer.
As discussed above, it is also probably possible to try out for example tactical campaigns around weekends to compete with online stores for customers in a hurry.