They are on the rise nationwide and the best retailers are making the process quick, comfortable and hassle-free.
The number of customer pickups at retail furniture stores is increasing nationwide. Some customers want to save the delivery charges. Others simply want the instant gratification of having their furniture and accessory items immediately even if delivery is included in the price. Still others travel long distances to visit stores based on their selection or reputation even though delivery to their home territory is not available.
Have you recently looked at customer pickups and carry home purchases from the customer’s perspective? Making the process hassle free and prompt is an excellent way to increase customer satisfaction and encourage referrals. You may find, as so many other furniture retailers have learned, that you need to re-evaluate and improve the whole handling process. A modest investment can yield big dividends.
"There are a number of different ways that furniture retailers handle customer pickups. Each has potential benefits and drawbacks. The system you choose should take into account the quality and consistency of delivered goods, the layout and flow of your warehouse, deluxing area and pickup facilities. Some operations can achieve customer pickups “in the box” within a 15 minute window. Retailers that deluxe before delivery may suggest a standard of a half hour to forty five minutes or longer for preparation. There are also operations that choose to deluxe the product, have the customer inspect it and then put it back in the carton for ease of handling in the customer’s vehicle. For each alternative, care must be taken to ensure that all the necessary parts such as mirror brackets, shelves, leaves, etc are included to minimize after sale problems."
Measure your own pickup performance against the following Top 10 Pickup List using “1” for poor to “10” for outstanding. Work on improving each step and revisit the area from time to time. After all, if you don’t measure performance, you can’t improve results.
Top 10 Pickup List
#1 DON'T LOSE THEM
Directions to the customer pickup area (whether the area is at the retailing location or elsewhere) should be easy to follow and well marked.
#2 FIRST IMPRESSIONS
First impressions of the customer pickup area must be favorable and consistent with your company image. Unfortunately, all too often the warehouse impression is less than satisfactory.
#3 PARKING ATTENTION
Provide customers with a convenient parking space close to the customer pickup area. Optimally, this area should be protected from inclement or extremely hot weather conditions.
#4 MEET AND GREET
Customers must be greeted promptly in a friendly manner, advised when their order will be available and directed to the appropriate waiting area.
#5 SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE
Customers should sign an acknowledgment of their pickup responsibilities. Paperwork for customer pickups should be stamped with a statement limiting your liability. For example: "Please check all merchandise before loading. We will assist in placing your purchases in your vehicle but proper loading is your responsibility and no damage claims will be accepted." (Note: Laws vary from state to state so check with your lawyer.)
#6 CREATURE COMFORT
While waiting, access to clean restrooms, refreshments and comfortable chairs are desirable. Single cup beverage brewers minimize the problems of making coffee and cleanup.
#7 SAFETY first & last
The walkway from waiting area to the pickup area should not be in warehouse operating areas for safety reasons. Customers need to be restricted to the customer pickup area.
#8 CHECK-UP & CHECK-OUT
Merchandise should be pulled within the estimated time and customers should be able to check over their furniture purchase before loading their vehicle.
#9 ADVICE & ASSISTANCE
Your uniformed warehouse staff should assist in loading and offer suggestions on proper loading if it appears inadequate. As noted, earlier the customer is responsible for safe loading.
#10 EXIT STRATEGY
Prior to leaving, customers need to be thanked for their order and asked to visit your company again.
Daniel Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. Questions can be directed to Mr. Bolger care of FURNITURE WORLD at email@example.com.
Contributing editor Dan Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. See many other articles by Dan in the Operations Management article archives on the furninfo.com website. You can send inquiries on any aspect of transportation, warehousing or logistics issues to Dan Bolger care of Furniture World Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him direct at 740-503-8875.
Read other articles by Dan Bolger