ecommerce order online pickup in store

Digital MarketingSEO

How to reach the ‘buy online, pick up in store’ audience

As ecommerce shopping grows more popular, major brands such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Staples are scrambling to master the “buy online, pick up in store” model. There are a number of benefits to this shipping method, including more rapid and more cost-effective fulfillment.

It also drives the customer into the physical store, where impulse shopping is far more likely to occur than during the online checkout process.

For consumers, the option to pick up their orders at a local store is incredibly convenient, but that’s not the primary reason customers choose this option. In a survey of consumers who shop online and pick up in-store, conducted by Internet Retailer, 73 percent of respondents said they choose that option to avoid shipping fees.

There were a number of other reasons selected by respondents, including:

  • 32 percent did so because the store was nearby
  • 30 percent didn’t want to wait for delivery and needed the item that day
  • 22 percent said they were going to that store anyway
  • 9 percent worried about deliveries being stolen
  • 7 percent were offered a coupon for picking up an order

Those consumer responses provide valuable insight into how you can entice more of your online customers to pick up the product in-store, reducing your overall fulfillment costs and potentially selling more product. Here are a few ways you can leverage this model to improve your business’s efficiency by improving the customer experience.

1. Available now

When customers are browsing through products in your online store, include delivery details directly on your product pages that let them know when they could expect the order to be delivered if the purchase it immediately.

The information should include an “available now at your local store.” This lets the customer know that if they really want the product, or need it quickly, it’s available for local pickup. In some cases, this small bit of information could be enough to convince the customer to convert on the spot.

2. Use in-cart messaging

The middle of the checkout process is an ideal time to let the customer know they can pick up the product at their local retailer. Make this a clear option when they’re choosing the delivery method for their purchase. Instead of just choosing a shipping carrier, make it a default option to pick the item up in store for no charge. Ecommerce platforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify offer these options by default, which you can turn on in the settings.

This is a method Walmart has used quite effectively. Not only can you choose to pick the item up if it’s available, you can also access free shipping from site to store for no additional cost on most items. Then all you have to do from there is pick up the products when you arrive at the local store.

3. Display local stores

You’d be surprised how many of your online customers don’t realize, or remember, that they have a store in their area. If you’ve recently expanded, they might not realize that a new location opened up nearby — or perhaps at their favorite vacation destination, or near a friend or family member’s home.

Be sure to include a store locator on your website that lists all of your locations, complete with the address and contact information. Include a call-out in your header or footer navigation for the store locator with messaging like “local pick up — find a store near you.”

Google Maps even has a retail interface to include interactive maps to your site or app.

4. Promote to subscribers

Your email list is one of the best ways to deliver information to returning and prospective customers. It’s also a great way to remind people that you’re nearby.

Incorporate the occasional promotion into your rounds of content marketing to let your customers know they can order and reserve items online at no extra charge and later pick up the items in-store whenever they’re ready.

The same call to action and reminder can be placed in any promotional emails you send out to consistently remind customers that the option is available.

5. User-generated content

If you’re involved on social media, then your local pick up center is a great opportunity for developing user-generated content as well as behind-the-scenes stuff. Encourage your fans to post pictures of their purchases being picked up in your store, along with a special hashtag for it. You can also take photos and videos that show you and your team hanging out with customers in-store.

This approach offers numerous benefits, including: diversifying the content you share on social media to include visual content curation, showing off the culture of your business, providing social proof from happy customers, and of course, promoting your site-to-store pickup option.

6. Create special promotions

Picking up online purchases at local retail locations isn’t a new technique — it’s just been available in different formats. You’ve probably done it yourself if you’ve ever placed an order for takeout or pizza online or through an app then went to pick it up.

Restaurants have offered this option for years as a way to reduce inbound phone calls and wait lines, as well as take the stress off of their delivery teams. Many restaurants offer special carryout/pickup-only promotions to entice more customers to choose this option, and you could adopt a similar strategy with your ecommerce store.


Think about the ways you traditionally engage with your customers. You can often leverage these in the same way that you keep customers informed and reminded of your in-store pickup option. By focusing on the customer’s desire for saving time and money, you’ll be able to reduce the load on your fulfillment team while increasing customer spends.