Shop online, pickup in-store – the perfect compromise?
Do you walk the digital aisles but then drive to the counter?
I’ve been shopping online for years but I’ve always had my purchases posted to me. I have the luxury of a separate mailing address in the city, with staff who will sign for parcels, so I don’t need to wait at home by the front door for couriers. If you work in an office you probably take advantage of the mailroom and occasionally have your online shopping delivered to work.
When I need to buy something I always turn to the internet first. When it comes to visiting a physical shopping centre, my motto is “get in, get what you want and get the hell out”. Wherever possible I do my research online and then decide whether it’s cheaper and more convenient to buy online or in the store. If I am going to the store, I call ahead to see if it’s in stock so I don’t waste time wandering the aisles searching for something which isn’t there. Even when I buy fish and chips for dinner I ring ahead to save time and then walk straight past all the people waiting in the shop for their chips to cook.
Recently I did something which I’ve never done before; I ordered and paid for something online but elected to collect it from the store rather than have it delivered. I was helping my kids buy me some movies from JB Hi-Fi for Father’s Day and I was concerned that the discs might not arrive in time considering there’s probably a late rush for Father’s Day gifts like movies. So I arranged to pick up the movies from my nearest JB Hi-Fi which is only a few minutes drive away — much closer than driving into the city to collect my mail.
I ordered the movies at 11pm and received an email at 9am the next morning to say they were ready to collect. All I had to do was drive to the shop that afternoon, walk straight to the counter and collect my parcel. There was a little head-scratching by the staff but we got there in the end. It seemed like the best compromise to ensure that the movies were in my kids’ hands in time for Father’s Day.
The weekend before I bought some furniture from Ikea, but I chose it online first so I could pay a lightning visit to the notoriously time-consuming store — striking hard and fast like a guerrilla of shopping. Receiving flat-packed furniture in the post wasn’t likely to win me any friends at my mail delivery centre. It didn’t occur to me to check if I could order online and then collect in person, although I’ll investigate this option next time.
Of course there’s still room for screw-ups in the order online and pickup model, but we seem to have come along way from the early days when such systems required someone to manually re-enter your order. Now internet shopping is usually tied directly into backend retail systems, offering a handy compromise for those times when you don’t want to wander the aisles but it suits you to buy over the counter.
In the early days of interactive television trials I ordered a pizza on the screen and then drove to the store to collect it — only to discover that my dinner order was still sitting unnoticed in the printer tray at the pizza shop. It was a less than auspicious start to electronic ordering, but it seems that times have changed.
Have you ordered online and collected over the counter? Was it easier or did it turn into an unmitigated disaster?