Krillion‘s mission has been to drive consumers into local big box retail stores to buy products that they find online. But it has used the mechanism of click-to-call to enable consumers to verify that items were actually in the store. Today the site is introducing what it’s calling “stock check,” which shows whether products are actually in the store. Starting with TVs, but eventually expanding to other categories, the service works with a range of big box stores that offer buy online with in-store pickup.
Buy online, pick-up in store has become more widely available in the past six months with retailers such as Best Buy, Sears, Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart adding it more recently. Others such as Circuit City and CompUSA have had the capability for some time. Here’s a recent NY Times article on how the service has exceeded expectations for Wal-Mart. The article also discusses stores such as Talbots, The Bombay Company and Linens ‘n Things adding the service. Something of a hybrid between e-commerce and traditional in-store buying it requires sufficient infrastructure and coordination between the Internet and in-store systems and data feeds.
According to figures cited by Krillion, 50% of Circuit City online purchases, one-third of all online Wal-Mart purchases and 65% of online Ace Hardware purchases involve in-store pickup.
Challenging as it is to get such systems together and working properly, as more retailers do so it will increasingly attack e-commerce. Fundamentally buyers want the confidence and immediate gratification of getting products today, if they’re available, rather than waiting and paying shipping fees to get them later. Indeed, as an indication of how shoppers loathe shipping fees associated with e-commerce, free shipping is the most popular feature among shoppers at e-commerce websites. Store locator ranks fourth as a feature, after free shipping, discounts and keyword search (according to the e-Tailing Group.) Another factor is the ability to return products locally if they don’t work or there’s some other problem.
The two historically most bullish analyst firms regarding e-commerce growth (Jupiter and Forrester) have shifted gears and forecast that e-commerce is slowing, while Internet influenced offline transactions are growing dramatically. Both are projecting that latter to reach a value $1 trillion by 2010 or 2011. And iCrossing’s recent online shopping report shows that search for local stores from which to buy products has grown dramatically in the past two years (though so has e-commerce).
Krillion is heavily indexed and will frequently come up in results for product searches that feature geographic modifiers. Users are then directed to product or manufacturer pages and can ultimately see whether a local big box has the product in stock. Below is a screen capture from the site (click to enlarge):
CNet offers a similar feature on a more limited basis through a partnership with Channel Intelligence. ShopLocal, Intuit’s StepUp and others are also provide varying degrees of inventory information. In particular, NearbyNow offers reserve online for in-store pickup for all the products it showcases on its mall sites. But what’s also important about Krillion’s new in-stock feature is the associated business model – cost per action. Krillion gets paid 3% to 5.5% of the value of the sale rather than a per-click fee.