Many retail companies offer an “in store pick up” option on their e-commerce sites as an alternative to shipping products. This is enticing for those that want to quickly secure a purchase of a hot item from a limited inventory, or for those that find it cheaper and simpler to drive to the nearest store. I recently found myself going with this option four times this past summer. Here are the (often hellish) results of my experiences.
On each of the e-commerce web sites (Walmart, Sears, Best Buy, and Lowes), the experience is quite similar for each. I selected an area store based on my zip code and was then prompted, based on a quick inventory verification, whether I could pick it up at the designated store. After that, I eventually received an email confirmation that the purchase was ready for pick up and that I should mosey on over to the store.
Finding the In Store Pick Up location is the tricky part. For Walmart, it was all the way in the back of the store in a little section next to the public rest rooms and stock room entrance. A sign indicated that I was at the correct spot, but nobody was at the desk. I sat on a plastic chair and waited as managers blurted out commands via headsets and zombie employees shuffled in and out of the stock room. I waited for at least 10 minutes. One employee ran into the lady’s room and vomited. I finally asked if someone actually works in the In Store Pick Up section. It took a while, but somebody eventually appeared. At this point, four other customers were in line behind me. My 10 lawn chairs eventually came out on a flatbed cart and I was on my way.
As soon as I walked into Best Buy, there was a massive sign indicating where the In Store Pick Up was. It was located next to the Customer Service Area. Two giggling girls took my info and spent a couple minutes looking for my speakers in some chamber. They came back and explained that my order was not ready to be picked up since in was not located in the store yet. I showed them my email alert, but they just smirked and got on the headsets to get my item tracked down. I leaned against a pillar and waited a while. Some dude showed up with my package and commenced flirting with the girls a bit before the speakers could be decoded and handed over to me.
The Lowes In Store Pickup is located next to the Customer Service Area. There was a guy in front of me going through some hell and I had to wait 15 minutes as multiple phone calls were made to track down his order. I stared at the seasonal section, sizing up outdoor grill sales until I could finally speak with someone. The employee took my name and number and claimed that I had already picked up the order, which was four fence panels. I laughed. He then realized that he was referring to another customer. Once I was finally and truly the customer at hand, he explained that the product was definitely “in the building”, but not on a skid yet and had to be found. I stared at the grills for another 15 minutes until they were ready.
Sears has an entrance devoted to In Store Pick Up. When I entered, there was a large touch screen computer that talked to you and asked you to swipe the credit card used for the online order. No employees were around at all. The voice explained that my order would be arriving momentarily from someone who was getting my order. I sat at one of the chairs and stared at the vending machine and wondered if I really did need that Twix bar. Suddenly, a guy appeared from behind the inventory area with my package. It was a lawn mower and he offered to carry it out to my car. I took him up on the offer and gave him $2 for his trouble. A week later, the lawn mower starter string snapped apart. When I arrived to return the lawn mower, I entered the same In Store Pick Up area. They took the mower and brought out a new one without any hassle or questions asked.
So, to sum up, the In Store Pick Up process can be a hellish procedure that is not worthwhile to endure. The online experiences and prompt email notifications are excellent, but that’s where the similarities quickly end.