Retailers boost ways for customers to reserve online, pay in store
By Jay Keller
The majority of these programs require customers to pay online first but changes in the when the customer can pay is changing how large retailers, especially discount retail stores, are approaching online sales.
Kmart last week announced the launch of Pay in Store, a program that lets shoppers reserve items online, pay at their local Kmart and pick up the item onsite — if available. If not, Kmart says patrons will leave the store with shipping confirmation.
For the most part, the flexibility for the customer comes from payment choices where people pay using the preferred payment method – cash, check, debit, credit card, gift card or Shop Your Way Points.
With the move, Sears Holdings and Kmart shows acknowledge there still remain parts of the customer base who want to shop online but choose not to for various real-life reasons that govern their shopping behavior.
“With Pay in Store, we offer our members more choices and provide access to online shopping for a large, underserved portion of the U.S. population that wants the convenience of shopping online but does not have a credit card or is reluctant to submit their card information via the Internet,” Sears Holdings executive Imran Jooma said in a statement.
So, for Kmart, the proof is in the pudding meaning that the program is perfect for its customer base.
“We are addressing a need in a way no other large retailer is doing by giving members and customers ultimate flexibility, convenience and choice in how they shop and pay and the satisfaction of walking out minutes later with their items in-hand.”
Even though Jooma claims that Kmart is the first large retail store to implement the service, Walmart essentially released a similar program back in April.
Regardless, the idea is for retailers to offer the online shopping experience to everyone regardless of circumstances that influence purchasing decisions before the shopper even starts to look for products.
“Customers want a shopping experience that seamlessly integrates the physical world of shopping with the digital world, including the ability to find additional product information and richer content with customer reviews,” said Jooma.
While much of the industry data tells retailers that most customers shop online frequently with a credit card, there’s a significant portion who want to shop online but face barriers.
“We are constantly innovating with new and better ways to serve our members, and we expect the new Pay in Store option will better fulfill their needs,” Joomla added.
The move by Kmart and Walmart show that retailers are starting to recognize they might be losing online sales simply because some hurdles aren’t worth the trouble of shopping online.
Some scenarios include where customers can only pay with cash because their credit card is maxed out.
Or, others want to buy something using an online-only discount but they have trouble navigating the merchant’s online tools to redeem the reward before buying.
And, some customers refuse to give credit card info to websites — regardless.