Jamie Columbus, vice president of omnichannel at Office Depot Inc. doesn’t shy away from bold claims about its buy-online-pick-up-in-store program.
“We have the best program in the world,” Columbus says.
The reason for Columbus’ confidence is the retailer’s 20-minute guarantee, which it meets 98.9% of the time. That means that 20 minutes after an online shopper clicks “buy” online or in the app, the product is ready for the shopper to pick up. If not, Office Depot will give the shopper $20 off her next purchase.
“This is our differentiator, and we’re proud of it,” Columbus says.
Office Depot implemented the 20-minute guarantee in October 2021 at nearly all of its 980 stores. While shoppers were not asking for a faster pickup time than its previous one-hour guarantee, the merchant wanted to prove it could be even better, Columbus says.
“There’s a big online retailer that can’t do 20 minutes, so we can,” Columbus says.
Plus, many small business owners may need to print out a presentation that day or have run out of ink and need more as soon as possible. They would likely be happy with the product in one hour, but 20 minutes is even better, Columbus says.
A majority of shoppers expect their online order ready for pickup in one hour or less, says Brendan Witcher, vice president, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. While not every retailer may need to exceed customer expectations with a 20-minute BOPIS guarantee, for Office Depot’s product category, it makes sense, he says.
According to a Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights survey of 1,132 online shoppers in March 2023, 32% selected BOPIS or curbside as their fulfillment choice because they wanted the product that day.
Office Depot makes changes to meet BOPIS guarantee
To reduce the time to 20 minutes from one hour, the merchant had to make operational changes at the stores to make its employees more efficient. Office Depot upgraded its hardware to Zebra mobile devices that run its inventory system software to alert employees in real time when they have to pick a time to fulfill a BOPIS order. Employees previously had handheld devices to complete this task, but the new system was better, Columbus says without providing specific details.
Office Depot also went through each task an employee has to conduct throughout the day and analyzed if tasks were necessary and the benefit of doing them. For example, sometimes employees have to specifically check an aisle for a high-end item and count how many are in stock. Office Depot decided to eliminate this task, as it did not provide enough value.
When it went live with the program, Office Depot did not have any increases in conversion or key performance indicators to prove that a faster pickup time was a differentiator for shoppers.
Columbus does, however, point to its in-store Net Promoter Score, at 72.5, as proof that shoppers are satisfied with the in-store pickup experience. Prior to this rollout, in July 2020, Office Depot’s NPS was 65.6. The average NPS, which is a widely used measure of online shopper satisfaction, for retailers is 35, according to Delighted LLC, a Qualtrics-owned survey platform.
Office Depot will continue to offer curbside pickup
About 27% of Office Depot’s online orders are for store pickup. Of those orders, 15% of customers choose to pick up curbside.
Office Depot quickly launched curbside at almost all of its stores during the 2020 pandemic. And even though fewer shoppers are opting for curbside than they did a few years ago, Office Depot plans to continue to offer curbside pickup.
“It has slowed down. We like the fact that it’s slowed down,” says Columbus.
That’s because with curbside pickup, shoppers are not entering stores and will not purchase additional items. This compares with in-store pickup, which brings shoppers inside. There, a percentage of them buy additional items, Columbus says without revealing that figure.
Digital Commerce 360 researchers found that Office Depot delivered on its 20-minute promise. It had the order ready for pickup four minutes after clicking buy, according to a mystery shopping test as part of the to-be-released Digital Commerce 360 Omnichannel Report.
From the 20 tested retailers, Office Depot was the fastest. Five merchants had orders ready in less than 30 minutes, and the median time it took merchants to have the order ready was 56 minutes, according to Digital Commerce 360.
Office Depot is No. 23 in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.
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