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Sears' new 'in vehicle' shopping is part of growing trend

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 10:26 p.m. MST

In this Sept. 19, 2013 photo, a Wal-Mart representative demonstrates a Scan & Go mobile application on a smartphone at a Wal-Mart store in San Jose, Calif. The discounter has been testing a Scan & Go feature on its app in 220 of its 4,000 stores. The feature lets customers scan their items as they shop in the aisle and then pay at a self-service register.

Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

Many impatient customers do their shopping online but just can't wait for shipping. Stores such as Walmart have long offered in-store pickup options. Customers also do this on their own without making the online order. They just do their research online (called "webrooming") and then try to find it at a local store.

In an attempt to make the process more integrated, Sears recently announced it was starting to implement drive throughs.

Sears' press release says this about the new "In-Vehicle Pickup": "The new service, powered by the Shop Your Way mobile app, enables customers to pick up their online purchases at any Sears store within 5 minutes of arrival, without ever leaving the car."

The service is tied into a typical store loyalty program and an app.

The Washington Post explains: "The Illinois-based store says this move is part of an ongoing effort to make shopping more convenient. But like most retailers, Sears' bottom line was hurt by a dismal holiday season. The company's sales were down by more than 9 percent in the last quarter, and it is expecting a loss of up to $360 million in the current quarter."

InvestorPlace says Sears will have designated parking spots for those who use the service: "Shoppers who wish to use the drive-through service can then notify store personnel that they are waiting by using the Sears mobile app, which they can download when placing their order."

When you arrive at the store, if they don't get the goods to your car in 5 minutes, you get a $5 coupon.

"For instance, if a Millennial is shopping for a TV, it's likely he or she has done all their research online and has decided what brand/model to buy," Joanne Kim, partner for Marcus Thomas LLC, a marketing communications agency based in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, told Janet H. Cho with The Plain Dealer newspaper. "Prices being similar, this might tip them more towards Sears just because of the convenience factor."

AOL's TechCrunch tells how Walmart is testing something similar with groceries.

In addition to their home delivery service, Walmart is testing a pickup service in several markets. "To get started," TechCrunch says, "customers will first place their orders online, and Walmart will call them directly when the order is ready. The idea is that you could effectively 'do your grocery shopping' in the morning, or while on your lunch break, then swing by the store on your way home to pick them up."

Like Sears, Walmart will have designated parking places where employees will bring the groceries out to the cars. But Walmart hopes those customers won't just pick up the groceries, but park and then go in the store and add to their purchases.

Consumerist explains: "What about impulse buying? Interestingly, more than half of customers that Walmart surveyed said that in-store pickup appeals to them because it gives them the option to run in the store and pick up things that they forgot to add to the original order."

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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