Local Business > Merchant Voice

Brick-and-click stores should offer free pick-up

Free shipping is commonplace for ecommerce companies. For brick-and-click companies — those with online and physical stores — free pick-up can be a helpful shipping option for ecommerce customers that live nearby.  Here are nine benefits for adding free pick-up to your ecommerce shipping options.

1. Customers Don’t Want to Wait

Even same-day delivery forces them to wait at home. If your warehouse, shop, or office is open to the public, customers can collect it straight after ordering online if they live reasonably close.

This option is clearly highly attractive for customers in a hurry to collect items for weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries, as well as items needed urgently.

2. Customer Avoids Shipping Expense

Not all customers are willing to spend $100 on products to get free shipping. Let them spend what they want with free pick-up. If this is their first purchase with your company, free pick-up lets them test the shopping process with you, boosts their confidence, and may easily lead to repeat, higher-value purchases. And you avoid free-shipping expenses.

3. Items Not Suitable for Work

While delivering online purchases to office buildings is more reliable than to residences (there is usually someone during business hours who will record and take your customer’s package), you may sell items they don’t want their colleagues, or bosses to see, and which they’d rather collect personally.

For example, a woman in an all-male business environment may feel awkward receiving a branded box from an underwear company. One of my past customers, who worked at a Catholic school, lamented being in trouble with his boss for shipping his astrology report to his work address.

4. Keeping It a Surprise

Gifts usually have to be kept as a surprise. If customers can collect their purchases from your premises, they have the freedom to hide the gift from their partner, children, or family.

5. Convenience

Buying online and picking up in-store can prove more convenient for many customers. Who hasn’t waited impatiently at home for the courier to arrive, only to miss him by minutes?

Moreover, customers might live where there is nowhere to safely make deliveries, and they cannot visit the local post office to collect it within business hours.

6. Returns Are Easier

If anything is wrong with the color, size, shape, weight, flavor, or model of the product they’ve bought, exchanging it at your shop or warehouse will be faster, cheaper, and easier for you and your customer. Compare that situation with the courier driving away and your customer has just discovered an error in her purchase.

7. Build Relationships

One of the major advantages of brick-and-mortar stores is relationship building. Physical retailers typically hold items or contact their best customers if certain products become available.

So if you let customers collect their items at your physical location, this can build a personal connection with your company that a pure-play online retailer cannot always achieve.

8. Up-selling and Cross-selling Opportunities

You win an invaluable opportunity to sell customers additional, complementary products during pick-up. People are in shopping mode then and they could greatly increase their original spend. For example, I bought mistletoe fairy lighting from Laura Ashley online for $39, and when I went to pick it up, bought a red wool coat reduced to $130, which just happened to be next to the cash register, at the same time.

9. Local Community Building

By offering in-store free pick-up, you bring valuable business to your local community if they can make use of other shops at the same time.

If you cannot allow customers to come to your premises, you may be able to work out a suitable pick-up arrangement with a complementary business nearby, which could also benefit from the extra walk-in traffic.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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