Training, signage and motivation are all critical elements to making in-store pickup work. If done well, it can lead to incremental sales and boost customer loyalty.

There is no denying that omnichannel order fulfillment is picking up speed in the retail market. What’s more, customers expect it now more than ever. According to new research from CFI Group, more than 75% of consumers say they want to be able to order merchandise online and pick it up in the store. In the U.S., large retailers such as Target, Home Depot, Macy’s and Nordstrom have successfully implemented this capability for customers. For retailers who are considering embracing in-store pick-up, the challenges can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be if retail store associates are properly prepared to handle the task.

The store associate can make the in-store pick-up a wonderful retail experience with potential to increase average order values. Or, they could make a customer wish they never hassled with it in the first place and take their business to the competition. Retailers who want to make in-store pick-up and omnichannel order fulfillment a reality and a success should take heed of the following best practices for store associates:

Proper Training Goes a Long Way: Ensure Store Associates Know the Who, What, Where, When and Why

The concept of buy online and pick-up in-store is still new to most shoppers, and to store associates, too. But when a customer enters a store to pick-up the item they just purchased online, the store associates must be ready and knowledgeable of the process. This could include greeting the customer, letting the customer know the status of their order, validating the customer’s credit card information and identity to protect against potential shopping fraud.

Even more important, order fulfillment training needs to be passed down the employee chain – from the regional manager, to the store manager and to all store associates. Retailers must ensure all employees are familiar with the necessary POS tools to ensure a seamless checkout process, whether through regional training events or user guides. To get store associates even more excited about supporting a buy online/pick-up in-store implementation, retailers could organize training programs with contests or gamification elements.


Lost Customer on Aisle Four: Use Signage and Store Infrastructure to Ensure In-Store Pick-Up Success

The last thing a retailer wants is a customer wandering around their store, looking for someone (or something) to help direct them to the in-store pick-up area or dedicated kiosk. When a store associate is not immediately available to help guide a customer to the proper place, it is critical to have store signage do the job. Because in-store pick-up is still new to many shoppers, minimal store signage simply won’t do, and most likely won’t entice shoppers back to the store.  Well-placed store signage with clear instructions will make the process easy for consumers, resulting in increased customer satisfaction, retention, and upsell potential.

Who’s In Charge Here?  Determine Which Department Is In Charge Of the In-Store Pick-Up Experience

You’ve decided to implement buy online/pick-up in-store; now who is going to be the quarterback? Will it be the customer service department, back-of-house, front-of-house, or a mixture of all? In most retail organizations, there will be some cross-departmental collaboration on customer service, but retailers realizing the most successful in-store pick-up programs have “claimed” the new online channel as its own department and hired a manager of that specific department within the store (i.e. an ecommerce department lead, or something similar). Retailers should consider designating in-store pick-up “playmakers” who have been specifically hired to support those efforts.


Motivation is Everything: Create Inspiring Upsell Incentives

Even if you have the most dedicated and selfless employees, at the end of the day they are still there to make a paycheck. The last thing you want is for your store associates to feel like they are doing double the work for the same pay. When it comes to in-store pick-up, the immediate concern is attribution when managers and employees are expected to fill ecommerce orders that might not reflect their own store sales. To alleviate this, retailers should train store associates on upselling and cross-selling opportunities once the customer enters the store. (“We just got in some amazing statement necklaces that would go perfect with your new blouse, would you like to see them?”) According to Forrester Research, 40% of shoppers make extra purchases once they arrive to pick up their order, so upselling opportunities are certainly there. Retailers should also consider implementing a commission model for store associates who facilitate online purchases. Happy and motivated employees (who now have extra cash in their wallets) can ensure a perfect in-store pick-up experience.

With the proper support and training, store associates can play a huge role in the ongoing success of a buy online/pick-up in-store rollout, which can lead to higher online conversion rates, more motivated shoppers in local stores for additional purchases and an expanded online product mix.

Shopatron provides technology designed to drive online shoppers into retail stores.