For years, retail has been trending towards online. And, obviously, Amazon has been at the forefront of this trend. Having no physical storefronts meant rapid expansion and high profit margins.
However, brick and mortar retailers have spent quite a bit of time and resources in the past year implementing the concept of “buy online, pickup in store” in order to turn their physical storefronts from liabilities into assets.
Walmart’s program, called Pickup Today, is the culmination of several years of effort whereby Walmart has put suppliers to great pains in complying with their omnichannel program. Namely, if it can be bought in the stores, Walmart wants it to be listed online. This integration now allows Walmart shoppers to see everything that is available both online, and see in real-time whether the item is eligible for pickup in a local Walmart store.
And, the efforts have paid off for the holidays this year: big time.
Buy online, pickup-in-store spending increased 47% from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Adobe said it was the biggest holiday on record for online pickups.
Walmart has raced to add grocery pickup to more than 2,000 stores in four years. It also has added pickup towers for general items to 700 stores over the past two years. By the end of the year, it will be able to reach 70% of the US population with pickup, it said.
However, this success does not come without challenges.
Despite the growth opportunities, pickup is not easy to operate and presents several obstacles for retailers, including security, inventory control, and staffing. Retailers have to implement procedures that prevent fraud, Oliver said.
Retailers also need to make sure stores don’t run out of stock for online orders, and that workers are not overwhelmed with double duty handling pickups and running stores. Walmart, for example, has 25,000 trained personal shoppers to select produce and meat at stores for online orders.
Have you ever used Pickup Today at your local Walmart? Sound off in the comments!