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Customers unhappy about staff picking online orders in store, Pricer research shows


As the role of stores evolves and pressure is placed on bricks-and-mortar estates to perform more digital roles and support ecommerce operations, the picking of online orders in-store is causing customer experience (CX) headaches for shoppers.

This is according to shelf edge automation and communication solutions provider Pricer. Its latest research of 100 UK retailers showed that 39% of retailers are now facing more pressure on the store to fulfil ecommerce orders, with a quarter of store staff polled saying they were having to perform more tasks to fulfil ecommerce orders via bricks-and-mortar outlets.

Pricer added this means store staff are increasingly having to juggle the operational tasks associated with the picking and packing of online orders, as well as managing click-and-collect order points all while continuing to serve in-store customers and deal with the day-to-day running of the store itself.

However, with retail staff facing an increasing array of tasks to perform, this is creating CX friction for shoppers in-store.

A study of over 1,000 UK consumers by Pricer showed 21% felt they received lower levels of customer service in-store because staff were stretched sorting out online orders and collections, rather than focusing on the customers actually in the store. A further 21% also said they had faced delays at the checkout because staff were fulfilling online orders rather than manning the tills.

A third complained that aisles were cluttered with trollies to fulfil online orders making it difficult for them to get the items they needed, while 20% said they had experiencing low product availability on shelves as store inventory had been used to fulfil online orders, meaning it was unavailable for store customers to buy, creating increased shelf gaps.

Shelf gaps are not only a source of customer dissatisfaction when shopping in-store, but can also impact basket abandonment as well as longer term loyalty. The study also found 69% of consumers expect products to be available on shelf when they go into the store, and 45% would abandon their entire basket if an item was unavailable, while 63% would question their loyalty to a retailer if they regularly encountered out-of-stocks.

Peter Ward, country manager for UK & Ireland at Pricer, said: “Stores are having to fulfil a broader set of roles and needs as retailers digitalise their bricks-and-mortar networks to meet omni-channel demands. And that is throwing up conflicting operational priorities: on the one hand, store staff must serve digital orders, while on the other they need to ensure that customer service and the BAU of store operations run smoothly to ensure customer experience is upheld.

“Increasingly, as the number of ecommerce orders fulfilled from the store continue to grow, retailers are seeing the logic of keeping high-running, frequently bought items in a designated ecommerce picking area within the store, relieving store picking stress on customers and lowering ecommerce order picking times for store associates.”

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