Instant Pickup signals Amazon’s determination to marry online ordering with in-store pickup. Competitors must move quickly to meet Amazon’s omnichannel challenge.


Nick McLean, CEO, OrderDynamics

If there was any doubt about Amazon getting serious about its omnichannel retail business, the announcement of Amazon Instant Pickup squashes that belief and sends a warning shot across the bow of retailers everywhere. This isn’t a PR bluff; Amazon is going all in on omnichannel retail, and retailers must take notice of its significance. [Editor’s note: Instant Pickup enables consumers to order snacks, drinks and other “everyday essentials” through the Amazon mobile app and pick them up at designated locations within two minutes. The service is available now in Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.; College Park, Md.; Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta and Boston.]

Some analyst reports claim that roughly two-thirds of U.S. retailers already manage a functional omnichannel retail operation. However, a soon-to-be-released report in which OrderDynamics analyzed more than 1,000 retail websites worldwide, found that in reality, only 29% of U.S. retailers currently offer click and collect—a major component of any omnichannel strategy. Simply put, a retailer doesn’t have true omnichannel capabilities if it doesn’t allow for this key connection between its online and physical retail channels.

Get in the game – NOW

To compete with Amazon’s aggressive omnichannel expansion, your organizations needs to leverage its primary strength—its stores. Undoubtedly, Amazon is still figuring out how to run a physical retail operation at massive scale, so the time is now to integrate your retail channels, and make sure your customers know you provide a seamless cross-channel experience. As you review your in-store pickup strategy, ensure that you have inventory visibility, offer fast pick-up and are communication the offering to shoppers.

Start with inventory visibility

To get started, make sure you are providing real-time inventory visibility to your customers. Real-time inventory visibility is a crucial tool to guide the consumer through the purchasing process. One of the main reasons a shopper might not visit your store is that they’re not sure you carry the desired item. So, make product availability displays a priority on your e-commerce site, including the option to search for locations that stock that item.


If you don’t offer customers this insight, and don’t give them options for alternative fulfillment, you can essentially guarantee that they will buy the same product from a more helpful competitor.

Faster in-store pickup

Amazon knows that in-store pickup service brings extra revenue to the table. If you can promise “instant” pickup, rather than two-or-more-day shipping, the shopper will be more likely to come pick it up in store. You’ve not only earned the sale of the product, but an analysis of industry research shows that 58% of the time they are going to buy something else while they are there.

While many retailers offer in-store pickup, they often make the mistake of offering in-store pickup timing of three to seven days. And considering that most shipments sent directly to a customer can be made within two days for urban locations, with Amazon a leader in the arena, three to seven days is flat out unacceptable.

Even more, with the introduction of instant pickup, there is no reason for consumers to wait at all. Sure, Amazon is currently only offering this for food items and select electronics, but don’t fool yourself; this will expand quickly to other products that Amazon will feature in its stores.

Amazon is moving forward with instant pickup by analyzing its inventory positions, picking certain high-frequency items, and telling customers that these items are available for immediate pickup. For many high-demand items, you can promote guaranteed instant-pickup services. Find the items where you can offer immediate pickup services, and advertise that you have 20-minute pickup, or ‘Grab-it-Now’, ‘Speedy Pickup’, or ‘Click & Pick’ service.


Don’t be shy

Of course, customers will only use the service, and prefer your brand because of it, if they know about your instant-pickup capabilities. Don’t wait until the checkout page. Make sure you’re promoting instant pickup not only throughout your website but to the general public.

Again, look to Amazon for guidance here. Once they had the capability for instant pickup, they immediately announced it. You should do the same. Issue a press release and invest in advertising about your ‘Quick Pickup’ service.

Next move is yours

Remember the saying, “When chased by a hungry bear, you don’t need to run faster than the bear—you need only to run faster than your competitors.” With only 23%-29% of North American and Australian retailers actually executing in-store pickup strategies, you have an exceptional chance to outrun your competitors and avoid the bear. Get ahead of the crowd, and win. And whatever you do, start lacing up your running shoes NOW!

OrderDynamics provides order management software for omnichannel retailers.