Office supplies retailers took two of the top five spots in a StellaService Inc. study of buy online, pickup in store performance during the holidays.
Office Depot Inc., No. 8 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, was the only retailer among 16 evaluated that successfully fulfilled 100% of orders placed between Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) and Christmas Eve, StellaService found. Shoppers consistently found items in stock and available for same-day pickup, and the retailer notified shoppers they could pick up their orders the day items were ordered 100% of the time. Office Depot also consistently gave an “ambitious one-hour window for availability,” says the report, which is part of StellaService’s Holiday 2015 Review.
Best Buy Co. (No. 14 in the Top 500), The Home Depot Inc. (No. 10) and Nordstrom Inc. (No. 19) tied at 97% order fulfillment, followed by Staples Inc. (No. 4) at 91%. The index average was 82%.
StellaService, which monitors the service web merchants provide consumers, placed more than 500 orders for same-day, in-store pickup between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. Orders were placed at stores across four regions and evaluated at several steps in the process to determine the speed and success of fulfillment, StellaService says. Points of evaluation were:
- Order placement: ability to locate an item eligible for same-day pickup and successfully place an order.
- Estimate communication: providing an indication of when the item will be available prior to purchase.
- Order fulfillment: item is in stock, available in the store as indicated on the website.
- Notification: item is available for pickup.
Other retailers in the study were Apple Inc. (No. 2), Crate & Barrel (No. 81), J.C. Penney Co. (No. 37), Kohl’s Corp. (No. 22), Lowe’s Cos. (No. 36), Macy’s Inc. (No. 7), Neiman Marcus (No. 43), Sears Holdings Corp. (No. 5), Target Corp. (No. 16), Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. (No. 40) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3).
When it comes to speed, Staples finished first, fulfilling orders in 23 minutes, or almost twice as fast as Office Depot, the next fastest retailer. On average, the fastest retailers sent notifications for pickup in 48 minutes. But not all of Staples’ orders were fulfilled successfully; 91% were, but the retailer sometimes had to cancel orders because items were out of stock, StellaService found.
The other fastest fulfillers were Apple and Lowe’s, which each came in under an hour, and Home Depot at just over an hour, according to the study. The index average on speed for the 17 retailers was 5.5 hours.
Retailers had the most difficulty completing buy online, pickup in store orders on Black Friday (Nov. 27, Cyber Monday (Nov. 30) and Christmas Eve, the study found.
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, 76% of such orders were fulfilled successfully and available in just under five hours; 75% of orders were successful on Cyber Monday but they took almost 14 hours to complete; and 73% were successful on Christmas Eve, taking seven hours before they were available, StellaService says.
Retailers planning to offer buy online, pick up in store service must understand that stakes are high, StellaService says in the report. “Inability to fulfill these orders with the expectation set for the customer can ruin the experience, and not offering the service at all can drive the customer to the closest competitor who does,” the report says. It offers the following suggestions:
- Make items eligible for buy online, pickup in store visible and easy to locate by adding filters to product search pages.
- Provide estimates before the order is submitted to indicate how long before the order is ready. “Vague language like ‘sometime today’ is not helpful since the expectation is that BOPIS [buy online, pick up in store] means same-day pickup, but ‘within 2 hours’ allows shoppers to plan,” the study says.
- Make sure systems allow for timely updating as products are picked from shelves. “Best-in-class retailers show a count of how many items are available in the given store,” according to the report.
- Pick items in a timely manner. The fastest retailers notified shoppers of availability in less than an hour.