Ever since Circuit City set the e-commerce world on its ear with the success of in-store pickup in 2006, larger retailers have embraced it, and it has become a major component in cross-channel selling.
"It's a feature consumers really are asking for," says Ed Stevens, CEO and founder of Shopatron, a San Luis, Obispo, Calif.-based company that works with both manufacturers and retailers. "Our experience is that upwards of 50%, and sometimes as high as 75%, of a retailer's Internet customers say they want this feature. In fact, what's caused the relatively slow adoption of this isn't consumers. It's just taken stores a little while to figure out the technology."
"Convenience is back in style," he says, explaining that what customers love about in-store pickup is that it allows them to break the task of shopping up into smaller pieces, which they can work into their schedule. "So let's say I need to buy my son a birthday present. I can fit the shopping portion into a 10-minute time slot between business meetings in the morning. And I can squeeze the pickup into a 10-minute slot after work, and have lower blood pressure all day."
Like all retailers, the Seattle-based Nordstrom is struggling for any competitive advantage in a tough consumer spending environment. Last week, the company reported first-quarter sales of $1.88 billion, a decrease of 3.8%, while comparable-store sales fell 6.5%.