Customers want it
Econsultancy's Christmas 2012 Online Shopping Survey, polled 1,000 UK and 1,000 US online consumers on their shopping habits. One of the things we asked about was the use of in-store pickup services - referred to as reserve and collect here.
There is a massive difference between the US and UK in take up of ‘reserve and collect’ services. While popular with Brits (40% used them over Christmas), take up in the US is much lower, at 17%.
Q: Did you reserve any items online for in-store collection this Christmas? (1,000 UK and 1,000 US respondents)
It fits in with customer research behaviour
Even if people don't end up buying on the internet, they like to research their purchases online.
94% of respondents to our survey (conducted online) said they always or sometimes check online before making a purchase.
Do you research purchases on the internet before buying from a local store?
By providing the in-store pickup option, retailers are ensuring that, if a customer hits their site to research products, they can 'lock them in' for the offline purchase by making sure a product is there for them to collect in the store.
It saves time for consumers
It's a busy world, and if you can save customers some time and thus make their lives easier, they'll appreciate it.
Reserving products for them means they needn't go from shop to shop looking for a copy of the latest games console, gadget, or lawnmower.
They can just head to your store knowing it will be there for them to collect.
Even if they don't buy online, they may head to a store anyway
One by-product of offering BOPS is that it allows customers to check stock levels at their local store.
So, even if they don't actually reserve and pay online, they may head to the store to get a feel for the product before buying in store.
The potential for cross selling in-store
When customers head into your store to collect an item reserved online, this brings with it the potential to add incremental sales to the original reservation.
Let's say they've reserved an iPad. While they're picking this up, they may see a cover they like, or decide they need to have useful add-ons such as keyboards and headphones.
It helps to give multichannel retailers an edge
BOPS is one option that online pureplays like Amazon cannot offer. In many cases, it's inconvenient to wait at home for orders to come, perhaps customers will want to save the shipping fee, or maybe they just want the item ASAP.
In this way, in-store pickup can appeal to a 'want it now' mentality. Rather than waiting for Amazon to ship the item, you can reserve and collect in store that day.
It's also very valuable during the holiday season. When online retailers can no longer guarantee to ship orders in time for Christmas Day, multichannel retailers can still offer in-store pickup right up to the last minute.
It increases in-store sales
This excellent article from Kellog Insight explains a useful piece of research which looked at the effects of BOPS on purchasing habits both online and in-store.
The researchers looked at 'a major retailer with more than 80 stores in the U.S. and Canada', comparing the behaviour of customers who weren't close enough to get to a store with those who could.