San Diego

Do Stores Deliver On Their Online In-Store Pick Up Promises?

With the pressure of Black Friday and holiday crowds, traditional stores are looking for ways to compete in this online world where everything is on demand.

With the pressure of Black Friday and holiday crowds, traditional stores are looking for ways to compete in this online world where everything is on demand.

“My guess is for retail stores that are going to be around the next five or ten years, they’re going to have to do the same thing,” Marketing Professor James Mourey said.

She said one thing brick and mortar stores can do is make online orders immediately available.

“I can go out, pick it up after I get off work before I pick up the kids from school,” Mourey said. “That’s the sort of convenience they’re reaching out to.”

NBC 7 Responds partnered with Responds units in Dallas and Chicago, along with CNBC in New Jersey, to see if popular stores can deliver on their in-store pickup promises. Every station worked from the same shopping list, ordering items from Target, Walmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Lowes.

According to Target’s most recent news release regarding the 2017 holiday shopping season, the store said, “...95 percent of online orders are ready for pickup at a store within one hour.”

When ordering from, NBC 7 Responds received a text message 30 minutes after placing our order. When at the store, NBC 7 Responds Producer Tom Jones said Target gathered all of the items ordered but store clerks said they couldn’t find the order in their computer system. The clerk had to individually ring up the items, adding 15 minutes to the visit and a dollar to the price.

When NBC 7 Responds brought the price difference up to the clerk, a discount was made on the total price. The average wait time for Target to fulfill orders from our sister station shoppers was 33 minutes.

In an email, Erin Conroy, a spokesperson for Target said, “At Target we work hard to provide fast, easy and convenient shopping experiences for our guests. We’re proud that Order Pickup consistently receives high satisfaction marks from guests, and that more than 95 percent of Order Pickup orders are ready in less than an hour for guests at their local Target store. Order Pickup continues to grow in popularity as we work to further enhance and improve the experience for guests. In fact, Order Pickup is one of the key areas in Target stores where we’re investing in additional team member training and resources, evolving from a focus on execution to a focus on helping guests move quickly through their transactions and get on with their day. Throughout 2017, Target is allocating millions of payroll hours for increased training and staffing at our stores across the country. In response to your specific experience with pricing ... We’re committed to providing great value to our guests and that includes being priced competitively in all of our channels. We have a flexible pricing model for our stores and that’s based on current market demands. At times, guests will find different prices based on what we’re seeing within the market, whether that’s in stores or online. We offer guests the ability to price match to through our Price Match Guarantee to give them added assurance they’re paying the lowest price.”

According to Macy’s policy online, orders placed online by 3 pm in your time zone will be ready for pick up that day.

When Jones placed the order online, he was informed the items on our list had to be split between two different stores in order to pick up the items that day. After agreeing to the two-store pick-up, we received a text alert one hour and 20 minutes later saying we could pick up the items. San Diego’s time was faster than the other stations where the average wait time was a little over two hours.

In an email, a Macy’s spokesperson said, “our customers love the ability to buy online and pick up in store and we’re always working to make the experience better. The customer who shops both online and in the store is our most valuable and we’ll continue to enhance the experience for her.”

Walmart doesn’t have a promised time for in-store pick up on their website but when Courtney Regan with CNBC asked Walmart’s Chief Merchandising Officer Steve Bratspies about wait time, he said, “we are constantly working on the time and pickup experience, most items you can get the same day for a pickup.”

After placing an order for five items, NBC 7 Responds received an alert three hours and 20 minutes later saying only one of the five items would be available that day. The rest would be available in four-to-five days. Dallas and CNBC in New Jersey had similar experiences with their orders.

According to Home Depot’s website, “most items will be ready for in-store pick up within two hours after placing the order online.”

Fifty-six minutes after placing our order with Home Depot, we were notified our order was ready for pick up. We were in and out of the store with our ordered items on hand in less than five minutes. The average wait time, for all of our orders, was one hour and fifteen minutes.

No clear deadline is given on Lowes’ website for in-store pick up orders. 

Forty-five minutes after placing NBC 7 Responds’ order, we received an email and phone call stating our order was ready for pick up. When we arrived at the store, the clerk asked us to continue shopping or take a seat as the order was gathered up. This added ten minutes to our order time. The average wait time including the other stations was two hours and 45 minutes.

In an email, Sarah Lively, a spokesperson for Lowes said, “Buy online pick up in store is a feature our customers use year-round. Sixty percent of orders placed on are picked up in store. Of those customers, 40 percent purchase additional items. We’re always working to improve the customer experience. In 2018, we will introduce new capabilities to our buy online pick up in store program, including dedicated parking spots, specific pick-up desks and at high volume stores, employees dedicated to filling orders.”

Kohl’s online policy states orders placed online are typically ready within two hours. NBC 7 Responds received notification of our order being ready one hour and nine minutes after placing it online. Once in the store, we were in and out in less than five minutes. The average wait time, including the other stations, was 46 minutes. 

In an email, Kohl’s Chief Operating Officer Sona Chawla said, “We have put our stake in the ground to be a best-in-class omnichannel retailer and to provide our customers with a frictionless omnichannel experience. Kohl’s customers have responded positively to the convenience of buy online, free pick up in store which enables them to get what they want quickly within two hours of placing their order. Since launching the service in all Kohl's 1,100+ stores nationwide in May 2015, we’ve evolved the process and made significant technology investments to make it even faster and easier – not only for our customers – but also for our winning teams of Kohl’s associates who are fulfilling orders.”

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