VF Corp.’s Josh Ehren says retailers must make sure store associates are up to speed on how to serve online shoppers.

More retailers are utilizing their stores to fulfill online orders95 in the 2016 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide offer buy online, pick up in store service compared to 63 in 2015. But before retailers offer in-store pickup, they need to ensure they know what’s in stock and where that inventory is, and they must train employees on how to help online shoppers.

That was the underlying message of a presentation by Josh Ehren, director of e-commerce at apparel manufacturer VF Corp., during a workshop session Tuesday at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition titled “Shipping and Logistics: Let’s Get Tactical.”

It isn’t enough to offer the service, it has to work, he said, pointing to a case study that examined an unnamed retailer’s buy online, pick up in store offering.

The highest success rate for this particular retailer’s buy online, pick up in store service was 88%, which meant 12% of shoppers who bought something online weren’t able to pick up their purchase in a store. On the low end, the retailer had a 62% success rate, meaning more than a third (38%) of all shoppers who used the service weren’t able to pick up their purchase.

“From a consumer-facing perspective, [it’s] awesome that you offer all these solutions, but how many times do you think these customers are ever going to try this again?” Ehren says. “That is where we fall short so many times. It’s the simple things.”


Retailers will miss in a number of areas when it comes to buy online, pick up in store, including not having signs that clearly show shoppers where they should pick up their orders and not having visibility into their own inventory to ensure they have the products in store that they are selling online, Ehren says.

“Store inventory accuracy is hugely important,” he says. “Think about me as a customer. If I buy an orange jacket from store inventory, that jacket could be gone by the time you go to pull it.”

The biggest area where Ehren says retailers fail when it comes to buy online, pick up in store, however, is making sure store associates know how to best help online shoppers who come in to pick up in-store orders.

“It’s focusing on those people,” he says. “It comes down to how your store associates interact with consumers. Unless they know what you’re talking about (when it comes to fulfilling online orders), if you don’t have that level of training set up from the start, you’re dead in the water.”


VF Corp., No 92 in the Top 500 Guide, owns and operates such outdoor brands as The North Face, Timberland,and Wrangler.