April 11, 2012 | The ForeSee Blog

Communicating Product Availability by Channel, Part Two

This is the second of my three blog posts examining how multichannel retailers can use their websites to support customers trying to complete common tasks such as researching and purchasing products across multiple channels.

ForeSee’s proven methodology and trusted technology precisely measure the incredible impact that customer satisfaction has on your company through every available channel. In part one, we shared some data illustrating the importance of satisfying customers who are using your website with the explicit intent to purchase or pick up an item at a local store location later on. These customers expect a seamless transition between browsing the product on your site, determining where they can get it locally, and ultimately, visiting the store to purchase or pick it up. By meeting these expectations you can improve satisfaction and gain loyal customers that are willing to purchase again in the future as well as recommend you to others, leading to financial success.

Even the simplest features can have an impact on your company’s bottom line. In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at some of the best emerging practices for websites to execute “Find In Store” functionality that help improve the consumer experience.

The “Find in Store” function allows customers to determine whether or not items of interest are available at a local store near them. For example, AE.com shoppers can locate items in a nearby store via a link on product pages. After selecting the color and size of the item they want and entering their zip code, the site produces a list of the closest stores with a link to a map complete with a print option:

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Pier1.com customers can also use a similar and easy process to find an item in store through the product pages. After clicking “Check Availability” and entering their zip code, the customer receives availability information as well as store phone numbers, hours, and the ability to map stores of interest. Customers can then select a store and, if they click “Continue Shopping” for that location, all product pages will reflect the availability of items in the selected store:

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Although both sites effectively inform customers of item availability in specific stores, there are some limitations to this feature. Since inventory is not guaranteed, there is a chance that customers will find nothing more than an empty shelf when they get to the store.

Regardless, the “Find In Store” option is certainly a useful way to connect website customers with in-store inventory. In our next post, we’ll wrap things up with a look at how “Pick Up In Store” functionality expands on the “Find In Store” option by allowing customers to actually purchase an item online for pick up in their local store of choice.

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Finally, as a follow-up to our last post, Meijer.com provides another example of a multi-channel retailer that communicates product availability by channel on the site. Customers browsing groceries can shop by availability including “Also At Stores”, “Exclusively Online,” and “Order to Store.” While ideally you could filter by multiple attributes at once, this is certainly a step in the right direction around setting customers’ expectations as to which channels carry the products that interest them.

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About the Author

As a pioneer in customer experience analytics, ForeSee delivers superior technology and proven methodology to connect the customer experience to the bottom line. The result is better business for companies and a better experience for consumers.

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