Gap and Banana Republic have launched a new Reserve In Store service in the US. Known as click and collect in other markets, we had the opportunity to test this new service.
Here’s how Reserve In Store works:
- Go to the website and search for an item.
- Choose “reserve in store”. Sometimes when an item is unavailable online, it will be available in-store.
- Based on your zip code, the site will search inventory to find the product nearby. Choose the store where you want to get the item. Inventory is updated every 30 minutes during store hours.
- Product is listed as available, limited availability or unavailable. If the item shows as either available or with limited availability, store associates will look for the item and hold it if in stock, within an hour of your order, during business hours.
- A first e-mail is sent to confirm your reservation, and a subsequent one is sent to let you know when the item is ready for pick-up.
Our Experience With Reserve In Store
Our first order was made outside of store hours for products with limited availability. Within minutes of our order we received an e-mail saying the store was closed and they would look for the item when it opened. The following morning at 6:30 a.m., long before the store’s 9:00 a.m. opening time, we received an e-mail that the item was picked and ready for pick-up. Upon arrival in-store, the product was hanging by the cash on a clearly marked rack with reservation details on it.
Our second order was made during store hours. Within 10 minutes of placing our order, we received confirmation that the item was ready for pick-up.
Areas For Improvement
The convenience is lost if you want to shop for a basket of goods. We wanted several items. Some were available at one store, others at another and still others were available only online. However, you cannot build a shopping cart of items, find them all at once and then have all products held at one place. With many stores in our vicinity, we found different items at different locations and it was an arduous process to organize to have all the items in one place. To reserve several items, we had to search each item and check availability. Once we found a store with all 5 items, we had to re-search each item and reserve it at the store that had all the items. The onus was fully on the customer to do this work.
In addition, with shipping charges for orders under $50, it was surprising that there was no credit for the total basket towards shipping charges. In the US, shipping is fast and it is most convenient to order online and have product shipped to your home. When you want online shopping and home delivery, in-store pick-up is not a convenient option. Customers are essentially being penalized for the fact that product is available only in-store.
Where The Gap Shone With Reserve In Store
The pick-up experience in-store was exceptional. The product was sitting right at the cash, with no need to wait for the clerk to find it in the backroom. The rack was labelled and visible from the front of the store, and product was clearly marked with the customer name and hold date. Employees were clearly trained on in-store execution, and this showed in the seamless journey from ordering to pick-up.
However, we were left with a few questions:
- What if we had ordered something popular with limited availability? There was nothing to stop anyone from picking up an item on the hold rack and claiming it as theirs.
- It’s a slow time in retail now. How will the turnaround times change during the Christmas rush?
- How accurate is the in-store inventory system? How do they manage availability?
- While our neighbourhood has an abundance of Gap stores giving us plenty of options for in-store pick-up, will Gap/Banana Republic ever partner with a retailer with broader reach, like John Lewis in the U.K. has done with Waitrose, to make pick-up even more convenient?
Overall, the Reserve In Store service was an interesting shopping experience and one that we feel will continuously improve as the flaws are addressed. And with Glenn Murphy at the helm, we know they will be!