The business of picking up online orders in stores is all about the money.
At least that’s what consumers are saying, according to a new Internet Retailer survey of online shoppers. The survey, which polled 217 consumers in the U.S. who have bought online for personal use in the last year, found that the most common reason consumers pick up online orders in stores is to avoid shipping fees.
Of the roughly 57% of respondents who said they had picked up an online order in a store in the last year, 73% said they did so to avoid shipping fees. The second most common reason was convenience, with 32% of respondents saying that the store was nearby and it just made sense to pick it up. The third was timing (they couldn’t wait for delivery, cited by 30%). Roughly 22% of survey respondents said they picked up an online order in store because they were going there already, while 10% were worried about their order being stolen if it was left on their doorstep, and 7% said they picked up in store because a retailer offered them a coupon to do so. Consumers could select more than one reason.
Another sign that the motivation to pick up an online order in a store is mostly about economics, and not necessarily convenience, is that shoppers who tend to pick up online orders in stores are far less affluent, the survey shows.
Of consumers across all income demographics, 57% said they had picked up an online order in a store in the last year. However, of those with household income above $200,000 per year, that number drops to only 36%.
So what’s holding consumers back? According to the survey, most simply say they don’t see the point. Of the roughly 43% of consumers who said they had not picked up an online order in a store in the last year, by far the most common reason (cited by 82% of respondents) was that they’d rather have the item shipped to their home or office. Roughly 19% of respondents said they didn’t have any stores near enough to them to make store pick up convenient, and 8% said they had tried to arrange for store pick up in the last year, but were unable to find a retailer with their desired item in stock at their local store.
Many of the largest store-based retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (ranked No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide), Home Depot Inc. (No. 7) and Macy’s Inc. (No. 6) have in the last couple years rolled out the store pick up of online orders capability as a way to provide added convenience to consumers looking to get their hands on their purchase quickly and for no added cost. Most say these programs have been a success thus far in driving store traffic. In its most recent earnings call, Target Corp. chief operating officer John Mulligan told analysts that the number of orders picked up in store increased 50% year over year through the first half of 2016.
These programs are also a way to compete with web leader Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1 in the Top 500) and its Prime membership program, now estimated to be in more than 63 million U.S. households, which gets orders to consumer doorsteps for free in two days, and often quicker than that.
Despite that convenience, our survey suggests that Amazon Prime members still like to pick up online orders in stores, sometimes more so than non-Prime members. Nearly 63% of respondents who said they were Amazon Prime members also said they had picked up an online order in a store in the last year. Only 50% of non-Prime members said they had done so.
Wal-Mart is driving the most consumers into stores in this way, as 52% of respondents who had picked up an online order in a store had done so at Wal-Mart. Home Depot was the second most common, with 23% of respondents, and Target Corp. was the third, with 17%.
Most consumers who are picking up items in stores do so only a few times. Of the consumers who said they had picked up an online order in a store, 51% said they had done so two to five times in the last year. 37% said they had done so only once, while 10% said six to 10 times, and about 3% said more than 10 times.
Moreover, the number of consumers who buy something additional once in store to pick up their item—often cited by e-retailers like Target and Home Depot as a major motivation for their buy online pick up in store program—seems to be fairly limited. Of the consumers who said they had picked up an online order in a store in the last year, 37% say they buy some extra in store “some of the time.” 37% said “rarely,” and 16% said “never.” Only 7% of respondents said “most of the time,” while about 4% said “always.”
Merchants banking on big holiday sales coming from shoppers who purchase online and pick up in store may be in for a rude awakening, as only a small portion of online shoppers say they plan to take advantage of this option in the upcoming holiday season. Only 15% of respondents said they planned to pick up an online order in a store leading up to the holidays, while 42% said they did not plan to. Roughly 43% said they didn’t know.
For a comprehensive overview of the state of omnichannel retailing in the U.S., see Internet Retailer’s report entitled Omnichannel Winners of the Top 500.