Customers who take advantage of big U.S. retailers’ “buy online, pick up in-store” services will save an average of only 96 seconds over simply buying the item in the store, according to a study by StellaService.
However, online pickup did ensure that the desired item was available.
The customer-service company’s test was small-scale — two stores each of 11 retailers, which included Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Sears, Staples, Target, Toys ‘R Us and Wal-Mart — and involved two shoppers per store: one who ordered online, then located the pickup desk and collected the purchase, and the other who simply found the item on store shelves.
In the study, online pickup took an average of 5.4 minutes, while standard in-store shopping took 7 minutes on average. Office Depot got online pickup customers out the door fastest (2 minutes), while Macy’s and Home Depot took the longest (8.5 minutes each). One major contributor to online pickup delays was the time required to check out, which averaged 3.1 minutes, compared to 1.1 minutes for conventional shoppers.
The study tracked (but didn’t factor in) the time required to wait for the retailer to notify the customer that an item was ready to pick up in-store. That ranged from 10 minutes for Best Buy and Lowe’s to more than two hours for Macy’s and Sears.
For all stores, both in-store shopping and online pickup were faster than delivery, the option that online pickup was designed to replace. The study also ignored typical customer shopping behavior — most shoppers don’t make a beeline for a single item and then check out immediately. But trying to take that into account would have made the study impractical.