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Order Online and Pick Up in the Store, but Where?

More retailers are offering the service to order products online for pick-up at a nearby store, sometimes as soon as an hour later. This service provides consumers the convenience of online shopping, the ability to examine the product in person before taking it home and often eliminates the cost of shipping. And once they are in the store to pick up an online order, consumers may purchase additional items while there.

A quick internet search yields a list of retail stores offering this service, including Target, Staples, Macy’s, Sears, Office Depot, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Best Buy, Walgreens, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart. And the list is growing.

All of the online retailers offer simple instructions on their websites, typically like Target’s shown below.  The duration of time after the order is placed until the “ready for pickup” email is sent varies by retailer. Some retailers’ instructions specify where to go once in the store. Most indicate that a valid photo ID is required for pickup and some also want the order number and credit card used for the order.

Target in store pick up instructions

Target in store pick up instructions

How well do retailers let customers know where to go when they get to the store?

How convenient is this omni-channel service if customers stand in line at the customer service desk only to be told that online order pickup is somewhere else in the store? Or if they wander around a huge department store looking for a sign or a store associate to ask where to pick up their order?

Ideally, customers should walk in the door and go directly to pick up the item they couldn’t wait to have. Sure, the online instructions and email may have mentioned where to go in the store, but in their excitement most consumers won’t remember these details, if they even read them.

In part one of this blog post, we’ll show examples of 6 retail stores that display noticeable signage at the door or immediately inside to direct their customers where to pick-up their orders. In part two, we’ll see the signage inside 5 stores that guide customers to order pickup.

Few have signs on the door or immediately inside the door

We went to stores in or near suburban malls to find out which stores make it easy to find where to pick up an online order. We found that DSW, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Office Max and Staples all have signs on the door. Sears has signs for their In-Vehicle pickup service outside the store.

DSW, which began their “order online and pick up in-store” service in late 2015, had a very visible sign on the door and a standing sign just inside directing customers to see an associate or go to the register, which is usually just inside the door.

2 DSW door signDSW signs on the door and inside the entrance

DSW signs on the door and inside the entrance

Kohl’s had a sign on the door and also a standing sign directing customers to the Customer Service desk (except for jewelry, which is picked up at the jewelry counter).  The signs included a design element of a shopping cart with an arrow to denote online order pickup.

At the store we visited, the Customer Service counter was at the front of the store, near the entrance.  Some stores have multiple entrances, though, and not all have the Customer Service desk at the front.

4 Kohls Door Sign Instore pickup

Kohl’s signs on the door and inside the entrance

JCPenney had a sign on each outside entrance at the mall store we went to. Perhaps because it was the afternoon, the glare on the glass made it difficult to see the signs. However, when we entered the store from inside the mall on several levels, there weren’t any signs about order pickup. As we left the store, we did see the same sign on the glass inside, which was easier to read.

6 JCP door sign with glare

JCPenney signs going in the door and going out the door

JCPenney signs going in the door and going out the door

Sears is distinctive in having “In-vehicle” pick up for online orders. Customers don’t have to go inside but need to use the Sears app and to know which outside entrance to drive to.

Sears Reserved parking sign for In-Vehicle pickup

Staples and Office Max had signs on the entry doors, but the signs aren’t specific about where to go.

9 Office Max Door sign Office Max and Staples signs on the door

Office Max and Staples signs on the door

In Part Two of this blog post, we’ll see the signs that guide the customer to the Online Order pickup counter inside stores and give some best practices for store signage.

-Judy Kistler-Robinson, Senior User Experience Specialist, Usability Sciences



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