Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by ClownLoach »

storewanderer wrote: December 5th, 2023, 1:07 am
mbz321 wrote: December 4th, 2023, 8:11 pm I mentioned this in another thread, but Target seems to be in this position. Special online prices/promotions for Pickup/DriveUp orders, but how is that going to draw people into the store to get them to spend more? It seems absolutely backwards to me. (To be fair, Target will match the online prices if you ask at checkout, but it's still an annoyance).
This has been happening with the drugstore chains too. They had lower prices on their websites if you did pick up (especially Rite Aid and Walgreens). In recent months they've done a lot of website price increases but if you are at a store in a high price zone the website is still quite cheaper than the store. For instance some pick up I did with Rite Aid using the 35% off pick up code they did I noticed the items on the website (OTC type items) were still 0.50-$1 less on the website than in the store. There was one item I did that was 0.50 more on the website than in the store but the 35% off code they did around Black Friday more than made up for it. They also routinely have promo codes for pick up orders usually with some kind of minimum purchase. For instance Rite Aid around Black Friday was 35% off pick up orders $30 minimum but that is based on full prices before coupons or buy 1 get 1 free, also their 35% off discounts before a coupon is applied. Walgreens was 25% off most of last week. Walgreens gives you the 25% off after coupons but for subtotal purposes if they have a minimum you can apply it before coupons (like a $25 order with $8 of manufacturer digital coupons - the 25% off $25 minimum code will work but you'll get 25% off $17).

Then there is CVS.com who has a 30% off pick up orders code no minimum purchase. I have found in many cases the CVS.com pricing is higher than my local stores so you have to watch with that operation. CVS gives you the 30% off after coupons/extra buck redemption also so it isn't very generous.

Target.com if you do a shipping order involving a lot of consumables/food/drug/pet you can reset your store and the prices will change and for a ship order you will pay the prices from whatever you set as your "pick up" store. I recently did a ship order and the prices were all different depending what I set my pick up store to (even though I was doing a ship order). I set it to a store many states away and my total dropped by 20%+. Some other stores my total would only drop by maybe 5%. If I set it to a store in say San Francisco then my total went up 10-15%.


I would not consider zone pricing workarounds to be a way these retailers offer a discount intentionally to those who manipulate their systems.

Target zone pricing as seen here is an issue and sounds like many have figured out ways around it, but they've aggressively reduced the discounts they were offering for Drive Up orders. Before you would see huge special coupon deals only for Drive Up, all the TV commercials were about Drive Up, etc. That is no longer the case. They changed their ad campaigns earlier this year, are using a different slogan that hasn't been officially "announced" the way Target PR normally does (slogan is "that's Totally Target"), and are back to focusing on the lifestyle and affordability aspect of shopping Target. In other words same ads they used to run with the long-standing Expect More, Pay Less campaign. I do not believe that they are doing anything to encourage people to choose Drive Up over in store anymore, quite the opposite in fact with the Circle loyalty offers that are only in store right now.

This discussion is something I started to raise here a lot over the last month, that retailers are starting to wake up with the rising labor costs and never ending obsolescence cycles of multi-million dollar e-commerce applications and systems. They are not getting a return on their investment and they likely never will when you consider that sales floor people who used to be tasked with service, recovery, and light stocking in retailers are now all focused only on pulling online orders and oblivious in most cases to the bands of thieves who are looting the place an aisle away. They are realizing that the cost of shopping for the customer from a labor perspective is between 20-30 minutes per order unless the store is doing a phenomenal number of orders and the retailer has purchased extremely expensive software that integrates with space planning systems to "batch" orders so that an employee can make a single trip to pull 30+ orders in aisle number order with a computer generated shopping list that starts at one end of the store and ends at the other.

The retailers who I believe are waking up are: Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's Club, and Kohl's who have all either mentioned specifically that they're reducing the push for pickup orders (Kohl's), eliminating curbside (Kohl's), adding fees (Sam's), or basically stopped advertising it entirely (Home Depot and Lowe's).

I'm going to disagree with the consensus here and say Target is waking up too and following the lead of Walmart, who is probably the only other retailer who has pushed for enough volume in conjunction with the right systems and procedures for order batching and space mapping systems. These software solutions can reduce the labor of order picking by an astonishing 95% as they send an employee out once orders have piled up and the system has sent them with a new "pick list" in aisle order for a single trip. The software helps them sort by order once the trip around the store is done. I have read comments from incredulously entitled customers who don't understand these systems which give estimates of pickup time. They place their orders from the Starbucks next door and then complain that their order isn't done instantaneously as if they have their own personal shopper who is going to drop everything to roam the aisles for their can of dog food, trash bags and package of Preparation-H. But the retailers are getting smarter and can afford to lose that sale from the unreasonable customer who isn't going to find any better service elsewhere.

The retailers who in my mind have let their stores go straight to hell operationally, physically, etc. to pursue this fruitless online pickup first exercise include in my mind CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Office Depot, Kroger, PetSmart, Michaels, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Big Lots. What they all have in common (except for Kroger) is small order sizes of just a few items and likely small numbers of orders each hour which make it impossible to reduce the labor with the expensive software as they won't have enough orders to "batch" for a single trip around the store before the customer shows up, except maybe in the morning before opening. So they must always have staff dedicated to pulling orders basically one at a time. If they wait too long then the item might be selected by a in-store customer and run out so then a refund will have to be issued. For that reason a model of "your order will be ready to pick up tomorrow at opening" doesn't work well for these small stores. In my eyes all of them should stop pickup service entirely and just switch to Instacart or Shipt. It would allow them to run their own businesses again and move the labor back to serving the customer, maintaining the store, and also added bonus of reducing shrink. Heck, it might mean lowering prices too. Meanwhile the customer who wants the personal shopping service actually has to pay the cost of it, instead of everyone else paying with either higher prices with the cost baked in or forced self-service options like some of these stores have made where nearly all the registers are replaced by self checkout. We all know damned well that part of the inflation issue has been retailers pushing the costs of these services back onto the customer wherever they can.

I firmly believe that the next 12 to 18 months are going to be an awakening for the retail industry as more and more of them stand up to Wall Street and say "look, you clowns wanted us to add these services, but you value profits even more. This stuff isn't profitable and our sales and earnings will go up dramatically if we drop it.". I think most of these chains are running negative units per transaction and have ever since they started the online push. That means that even if they lose a few customers by curtailed pickup, it they will offset them with increased sales through higher units per transaction from more in store impulse buys and better overall store conditions (fuller shelves).
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by veteran+ »

ClownLoach wrote: December 5th, 2023, 9:42 am
storewanderer wrote: December 5th, 2023, 1:07 am
mbz321 wrote: December 4th, 2023, 8:11 pm I mentioned this in another thread, but Target seems to be in this position. Special online prices/promotions for Pickup/DriveUp orders, but how is that going to draw people into the store to get them to spend more? It seems absolutely backwards to me. (To be fair, Target will match the online prices if you ask at checkout, but it's still an annoyance).
This has been happening with the drugstore chains too. They had lower prices on their websites if you did pick up (especially Rite Aid and Walgreens). In recent months they've done a lot of website price increases but if you are at a store in a high price zone the website is still quite cheaper than the store. For instance some pick up I did with Rite Aid using the 35% off pick up code they did I noticed the items on the website (OTC type items) were still 0.50-$1 less on the website than in the store. There was one item I did that was 0.50 more on the website than in the store but the 35% off code they did around Black Friday more than made up for it. They also routinely have promo codes for pick up orders usually with some kind of minimum purchase. For instance Rite Aid around Black Friday was 35% off pick up orders $30 minimum but that is based on full prices before coupons or buy 1 get 1 free, also their 35% off discounts before a coupon is applied. Walgreens was 25% off most of last week. Walgreens gives you the 25% off after coupons but for subtotal purposes if they have a minimum you can apply it before coupons (like a $25 order with $8 of manufacturer digital coupons - the 25% off $25 minimum code will work but you'll get 25% off $17).

Then there is CVS.com who has a 30% off pick up orders code no minimum purchase. I have found in many cases the CVS.com pricing is higher than my local stores so you have to watch with that operation. CVS gives you the 30% off after coupons/extra buck redemption also so it isn't very generous.

Target.com if you do a shipping order involving a lot of consumables/food/drug/pet you can reset your store and the prices will change and for a ship order you will pay the prices from whatever you set as your "pick up" store. I recently did a ship order and the prices were all different depending what I set my pick up store to (even though I was doing a ship order). I set it to a store many states away and my total dropped by 20%+. Some other stores my total would only drop by maybe 5%. If I set it to a store in say San Francisco then my total went up 10-15%.


I would not consider zone pricing workarounds to be a way these retailers offer a discount intentionally to those who manipulate their systems.

Target zone pricing as seen here is an issue and sounds like many have figured out ways around it, but they've aggressively reduced the discounts they were offering for Drive Up orders. Before you would see huge special coupon deals only for Drive Up, all the TV commercials were about Drive Up, etc. That is no longer the case. They changed their ad campaigns earlier this year, are using a different slogan that hasn't been officially "announced" the way Target PR normally does (slogan is "that's Totally Target"), and are back to focusing on the lifestyle and affordability aspect of shopping Target. In other words same ads they used to run with the long-standing Expect More, Pay Less campaign. I do not believe that they are doing anything to encourage people to choose Drive Up over in store anymore, quite the opposite in fact with the Circle loyalty offers that are only in store right now.

This discussion is something I started to raise here a lot over the last month, that retailers are starting to wake up with the rising labor costs and never ending obsolescence cycles of multi-million dollar e-commerce applications and systems. They are not getting a return on their investment and they likely never will when you consider that sales floor people who used to be tasked with service, recovery, and light stocking in retailers are now all focused only on pulling online orders and oblivious in most cases to the bands of thieves who are looting the place an aisle away. They are realizing that the cost of shopping for the customer from a labor perspective is between 20-30 minutes per order unless the store is doing a phenomenal number of orders and the retailer has purchased extremely expensive software that integrates with space planning systems to "batch" orders so that an employee can make a single trip to pull 30+ orders in aisle number order with a computer generated shopping list that starts at one end of the store and ends at the other.

The retailers who I believe are waking up are: Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's Club, and Kohl's who have all either mentioned specifically that they're reducing the push for pickup orders (Kohl's), eliminating curbside (Kohl's), adding fees (Sam's), or basically stopped advertising it entirely (Home Depot and Lowe's).

I'm going to disagree with the consensus here and say Target is waking up too and following the lead of Walmart, who is probably the only other retailer who has pushed for enough volume in conjunction with the right systems and procedures for order batching and space mapping systems. These software solutions can reduce the labor of order picking by an astonishing 95% as they send an employee out once orders have piled up and the system has sent them with a new "pick list" in aisle order for a single trip. The software helps them sort by order once the trip around the store is done. I have read comments from incredulously entitled customers who don't understand these systems which give estimates of pickup time. They place their orders from the Starbucks next door and then complain that their order isn't done instantaneously as if they have their own personal shopper who is going to drop everything to roam the aisles for their can of dog food, trash bags and package of Preparation-H. But the retailers are getting smarter and can afford to lose that sale from the unreasonable customer who isn't going to find any better service elsewhere.

The retailers who in my mind have let their stores go straight to hell operationally, physically, etc. to pursue this fruitless online pickup first exercise include in my mind CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Office Depot, Kroger, PetSmart, Michaels, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Big Lots. What they all have in common (except for Kroger) is small order sizes of just a few items and likely small numbers of orders each hour which make it impossible to reduce the labor with the expensive software as they won't have enough orders to "batch" for a single trip around the store before the customer shows up, except maybe in the morning before opening. So they must always have staff dedicated to pulling orders basically one at a time. If they wait too long then the item might be selected by a in-store customer and run out so then a refund will have to be issued. For that reason a model of "your order will be ready to pick up tomorrow at opening" doesn't work well for these small stores. In my eyes all of them should stop pickup service entirely and just switch to Instacart or Shipt. It would allow them to run their own businesses again and move the labor back to serving the customer, maintaining the store, and also added bonus of reducing shrink. Heck, it might mean lowering prices too. Meanwhile the customer who wants the personal shopping service actually has to pay the cost of it, instead of everyone else paying with either higher prices with the cost baked in or forced self-service options like some of these stores have made where nearly all the registers are replaced by self checkout. We all know damned well that part of the inflation issue has been retailers pushing the costs of these services back onto the customer wherever they can.

I firmly believe that the next 12 to 18 months are going to be an awakening for the retail industry as more and more of them stand up to Wall Street and say "look, you clowns wanted us to add these services, but you value profits even more. This stuff isn't profitable and our sales and earnings will go up dramatically if we drop it.". I think most of these chains are running negative units per transaction and have ever since they started the online push. That means that even if they lose a few customers by curtailed pickup, it they will offset them with increased sales through higher units per transaction from more in store impulse buys and better overall store conditions (fuller shelves).
Amen !!!!!

The vociferous "convenience" propaganda finally implodes!
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: December 5th, 2023, 9:42 am

I would not consider zone pricing workarounds to be a way these retailers offer a discount intentionally to those who manipulate their systems.

Target zone pricing as seen here is an issue and sounds like many have figured out ways around it, but they've aggressively reduced the discounts they were offering for Drive Up orders. Before you would see huge special coupon deals only for Drive Up, all the TV commercials were about Drive Up, etc. That is no longer the case. They changed their ad campaigns earlier this year, are using a different slogan that hasn't been officially "announced" the way Target PR normally does (slogan is "that's Totally Target"), and are back to focusing on the lifestyle and affordability aspect of shopping Target. In other words same ads they used to run with the long-standing Expect More, Pay Less campaign. I do not believe that they are doing anything to encourage people to choose Drive Up over in store anymore, quite the opposite in fact with the Circle loyalty offers that are only in store right now.

This discussion is something I started to raise here a lot over the last month, that retailers are starting to wake up with the rising labor costs and never ending obsolescence cycles of multi-million dollar e-commerce applications and systems. They are not getting a return on their investment and they likely never will when you consider that sales floor people who used to be tasked with service, recovery, and light stocking in retailers are now all focused only on pulling online orders and oblivious in most cases to the bands of thieves who are looting the place an aisle away. They are realizing that the cost of shopping for the customer from a labor perspective is between 20-30 minutes per order unless the store is doing a phenomenal number of orders and the retailer has purchased extremely expensive software that integrates with space planning systems to "batch" orders so that an employee can make a single trip to pull 30+ orders in aisle number order with a computer generated shopping list that starts at one end of the store and ends at the other.

The retailers who I believe are waking up are: Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's Club, and Kohl's who have all either mentioned specifically that they're reducing the push for pickup orders (Kohl's), eliminating curbside (Kohl's), adding fees (Sam's), or basically stopped advertising it entirely (Home Depot and Lowe's).

I'm going to disagree with the consensus here and say Target is waking up too and following the lead of Walmart, who is probably the only other retailer who has pushed for enough volume in conjunction with the right systems and procedures for order batching and space mapping systems. These software solutions can reduce the labor of order picking by an astonishing 95% as they send an employee out once orders have piled up and the system has sent them with a new "pick list" in aisle order for a single trip. The software helps them sort by order once the trip around the store is done. I have read comments from incredulously entitled customers who don't understand these systems which give estimates of pickup time. They place their orders from the Starbucks next door and then complain that their order isn't done instantaneously as if they have their own personal shopper who is going to drop everything to roam the aisles for their can of dog food, trash bags and package of Preparation-H. But the retailers are getting smarter and can afford to lose that sale from the unreasonable customer who isn't going to find any better service elsewhere.

The retailers who in my mind have let their stores go straight to hell operationally, physically, etc. to pursue this fruitless online pickup first exercise include in my mind CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Office Depot, Kroger, PetSmart, Michaels, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Big Lots. What they all have in common (except for Kroger) is small order sizes of just a few items and likely small numbers of orders each hour which make it impossible to reduce the labor with the expensive software as they won't have enough orders to "batch" for a single trip around the store before the customer shows up, except maybe in the morning before opening. So they must always have staff dedicated to pulling orders basically one at a time. If they wait too long then the item might be selected by a in-store customer and run out so then a refund will have to be issued. For that reason a model of "your order will be ready to pick up tomorrow at opening" doesn't work well for these small stores. In my eyes all of them should stop pickup service entirely and just switch to Instacart or Shipt. It would allow them to run their own businesses again and move the labor back to serving the customer, maintaining the store, and also added bonus of reducing shrink. Heck, it might mean lowering prices too. Meanwhile the customer who wants the personal shopping service actually has to pay the cost of it, instead of everyone else paying with either higher prices with the cost baked in or forced self-service options like some of these stores have made where nearly all the registers are replaced by self checkout. We all know damned well that part of the inflation issue has been retailers pushing the costs of these services back onto the customer wherever they can.

I firmly believe that the next 12 to 18 months are going to be an awakening for the retail industry as more and more of them stand up to Wall Street and say "look, you clowns wanted us to add these services, but you value profits even more. This stuff isn't profitable and our sales and earnings will go up dramatically if we drop it.". I think most of these chains are running negative units per transaction and have ever since they started the online push. That means that even if they lose a few customers by curtailed pickup, it they will offset them with increased sales through higher units per transaction from more in store impulse buys and better overall store conditions (fuller shelves).
I have done a lot of pick up orders with CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. The CVS and Rite Aid services have been flawless- all of my orders are pretty small (a few items) and these orders are typically picked and ready for pick up within 10 minutes of my order. These stores aren't very busy and it isn't very hard for the cashier who is standing up front to go pick a couple items, scan them out, and throw them on the pick up shelf. These two chains have never canceled an order due to being out of stock either. Walgreens---- is a lot more fun. Walgreens established a $10 minimum for pick up orders. I have had entire orders canceled, been shorted items, frequently have at least an item or two canceled from the order, been given amazing substitutes (like double the size of the product I ordered at no extra charge), peculiar application of coupons where it is a coupon for x.xx off 2 units, they cancel 1 unit, and I still get the full x.xx off that 1 unit, and often fulfillment takes 2+ hours to occur. My favorite Walgreens experience was ordering a couple items right as I was in the store (as the website price was 5.99 buy 1 get 1 50% off and in the store the price was 16.99- this was back during the "disposable glove shortage" of COVID) and I picked my two boxes and took them up front to say I did an online order and the supervisor on duty canceled my order as I was walking up front with the product. So I did another order and as I approached her she was on the handheld and canceled it too. I called her out on cancelling the order when she had the inventory and she had some excuse about not being able to leave the register and them being "timed on orders," so I placed a third order and she went ahead and processed it at that point; I left them a terrible receipt survey but of course never heard from anyone.


Wal Mart's pick up service has brought many customers to Wal Mart in suburb type areas who otherwise would not shop there. I feel this has been very successful for them. The core Wal Mart customer doesn't care about pick up service and doesn't want to mess with online ordering but a number of customers who drive by Wal Mart Stores daily and may like to save money but hate the thought of physically entering Wal Mart, and like ordering on websites, are prime "new customers" for Wal Mart and from what I see in my area and some people I talk to they have picked up a LOT of new customers this way. Target I think is just working with existing customers converting them from in store to Drive Up and I don't think Drive Up brought them many extra customers and I think it may have hurt them because it kills impulse buys.

Another one I've had fun with pick up is Maverik. They ran a promotion, try our pick up service get a $5 Maverik Gift Card. So I ordered 1 cookie and went to pick it up. The store hadn't baked any cookies that day and the employee didn't know what to do and pointed to a person and said that's the store manager go talk to him. I explained it to him and he said I'm sorry but we didn't bake any cookies and offered me a muffin as a substitute and also didn't charge me for the drink I was carrying that I was going to pay for in store. I went back to the same store a few days later - placed another online order- same story again but this time no muffins either. This time the manager did offer me a refund and said I can have free drinks for the next week... I mentioned to not worry about the next week but also that I had done the online order to get a free $5 gift card so I'd just claim that and be done. Next embarrassment: he had no gift cards... said he was out of stock on them. I eventually claimed it at another store.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by ClownLoach »

storewanderer wrote: December 5th, 2023, 11:46 pm
ClownLoach wrote: December 5th, 2023, 9:42 am

I would not consider zone pricing workarounds to be a way these retailers offer a discount intentionally to those who manipulate their systems.

Target zone pricing as seen here is an issue and sounds like many have figured out ways around it, but they've aggressively reduced the discounts they were offering for Drive Up orders. Before you would see huge special coupon deals only for Drive Up, all the TV commercials were about Drive Up, etc. That is no longer the case. They changed their ad campaigns earlier this year, are using a different slogan that hasn't been officially "announced" the way Target PR normally does (slogan is "that's Totally Target"), and are back to focusing on the lifestyle and affordability aspect of shopping Target. In other words same ads they used to run with the long-standing Expect More, Pay Less campaign. I do not believe that they are doing anything to encourage people to choose Drive Up over in store anymore, quite the opposite in fact with the Circle loyalty offers that are only in store right now.

This discussion is something I started to raise here a lot over the last month, that retailers are starting to wake up with the rising labor costs and never ending obsolescence cycles of multi-million dollar e-commerce applications and systems. They are not getting a return on their investment and they likely never will when you consider that sales floor people who used to be tasked with service, recovery, and light stocking in retailers are now all focused only on pulling online orders and oblivious in most cases to the bands of thieves who are looting the place an aisle away. They are realizing that the cost of shopping for the customer from a labor perspective is between 20-30 minutes per order unless the store is doing a phenomenal number of orders and the retailer has purchased extremely expensive software that integrates with space planning systems to "batch" orders so that an employee can make a single trip to pull 30+ orders in aisle number order with a computer generated shopping list that starts at one end of the store and ends at the other.

The retailers who I believe are waking up are: Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's Club, and Kohl's who have all either mentioned specifically that they're reducing the push for pickup orders (Kohl's), eliminating curbside (Kohl's), adding fees (Sam's), or basically stopped advertising it entirely (Home Depot and Lowe's).

I'm going to disagree with the consensus here and say Target is waking up too and following the lead of Walmart, who is probably the only other retailer who has pushed for enough volume in conjunction with the right systems and procedures for order batching and space mapping systems. These software solutions can reduce the labor of order picking by an astonishing 95% as they send an employee out once orders have piled up and the system has sent them with a new "pick list" in aisle order for a single trip. The software helps them sort by order once the trip around the store is done. I have read comments from incredulously entitled customers who don't understand these systems which give estimates of pickup time. They place their orders from the Starbucks next door and then complain that their order isn't done instantaneously as if they have their own personal shopper who is going to drop everything to roam the aisles for their can of dog food, trash bags and package of Preparation-H. But the retailers are getting smarter and can afford to lose that sale from the unreasonable customer who isn't going to find any better service elsewhere.

The retailers who in my mind have let their stores go straight to hell operationally, physically, etc. to pursue this fruitless online pickup first exercise include in my mind CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Office Depot, Kroger, PetSmart, Michaels, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Big Lots. What they all have in common (except for Kroger) is small order sizes of just a few items and likely small numbers of orders each hour which make it impossible to reduce the labor with the expensive software as they won't have enough orders to "batch" for a single trip around the store before the customer shows up, except maybe in the morning before opening. So they must always have staff dedicated to pulling orders basically one at a time. If they wait too long then the item might be selected by a in-store customer and run out so then a refund will have to be issued. For that reason a model of "your order will be ready to pick up tomorrow at opening" doesn't work well for these small stores. In my eyes all of them should stop pickup service entirely and just switch to Instacart or Shipt. It would allow them to run their own businesses again and move the labor back to serving the customer, maintaining the store, and also added bonus of reducing shrink. Heck, it might mean lowering prices too. Meanwhile the customer who wants the personal shopping service actually has to pay the cost of it, instead of everyone else paying with either higher prices with the cost baked in or forced self-service options like some of these stores have made where nearly all the registers are replaced by self checkout. We all know damned well that part of the inflation issue has been retailers pushing the costs of these services back onto the customer wherever they can.

I firmly believe that the next 12 to 18 months are going to be an awakening for the retail industry as more and more of them stand up to Wall Street and say "look, you clowns wanted us to add these services, but you value profits even more. This stuff isn't profitable and our sales and earnings will go up dramatically if we drop it.". I think most of these chains are running negative units per transaction and have ever since they started the online push. That means that even if they lose a few customers by curtailed pickup, it they will offset them with increased sales through higher units per transaction from more in store impulse buys and better overall store conditions (fuller shelves).
I have done a lot of pick up orders with CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. The CVS and Rite Aid services have been flawless- all of my orders are pretty small (a few items) and these orders are typically picked and ready for pick up within 10 minutes of my order. These stores aren't very busy and it isn't very hard for the cashier who is standing up front to go pick a couple items, scan them out, and throw them on the pick up shelf. These two chains have never canceled an order due to being out of stock either. Walgreens---- is a lot more fun. Walgreens established a $10 minimum for pick up orders. I have had entire orders canceled, been shorted items, frequently have at least an item or two canceled from the order, been given amazing substitutes (like double the size of the product I ordered at no extra charge), peculiar application of coupons where it is a coupon for x.xx off 2 units, they cancel 1 unit, and I still get the full x.xx off that 1 unit, and often fulfillment takes 2+ hours to occur. My favorite Walgreens experience was ordering a couple items right as I was in the store (as the website price was 5.99 buy 1 get 1 50% off and in the store the price was 16.99- this was back during the "disposable glove shortage" of COVID) and I picked my two boxes and took them up front to say I did an online order and the supervisor on duty canceled my order as I was walking up front with the product. So I did another order and as I approached her she was on the handheld and canceled it too. I called her out on cancelling the order when she had the inventory and she had some excuse about not being able to leave the register and them being "timed on orders," so I placed a third order and she went ahead and processed it at that point; I left them a terrible receipt survey but of course never heard from anyone.


Wal Mart's pick up service has brought many customers to Wal Mart in suburb type areas who otherwise would not shop there. I feel this has been very successful for them. The core Wal Mart customer doesn't care about pick up service and doesn't want to mess with online ordering but a number of customers who drive by Wal Mart Stores daily and may like to save money but hate the thought of physically entering Wal Mart, and like ordering on websites, are prime "new customers" for Wal Mart and from what I see in my area and some people I talk to they have picked up a LOT of new customers this way. Target I think is just working with existing customers converting them from in store to Drive Up and I don't think Drive Up brought them many extra customers and I think it may have hurt them because it kills impulse buys.

Another one I've had fun with pick up is Maverik. They ran a promotion, try our pick up service get a $5 Maverik Gift Card. So I ordered 1 cookie and went to pick it up. The store hadn't baked any cookies that day and the employee didn't know what to do and pointed to a person and said that's the store manager go talk to him. I explained it to him and he said I'm sorry but we didn't bake any cookies and offered me a muffin as a substitute and also didn't charge me for the drink I was carrying that I was going to pay for in store. I went back to the same store a few days later - placed another online order- same story again but this time no muffins either. This time the manager did offer me a refund and said I can have free drinks for the next week... I mentioned to not worry about the next week but also that I had done the online order to get a free $5 gift card so I'd just claim that and be done. Next embarrassment: he had no gift cards... said he was out of stock on them. I eventually claimed it at another store.
The other piece I didn't mention is that online ordering success is based on inventory accuracy. The store chains that are doing a better job are shifting labor from checkouts, cleaning/stocking, etc. to perform more cycle counts and other maintenance work which is higher skilled and usually done by higher wage (ie. Not entry level) workers. So this is another significant cost as even being in stock on the physical shelf isn't enough anymore - consider that if the item is stocked and on the shelf but the inventory count in the system is short then you can't sell it online. So this is another example where the in store conditions and service levels take a back seat to online ordering only further eroding their profitability.

I believe CVS and Rite Aid have good programs for this work which is why you're reporting successful order fulfillment. For the most part Walmart and Target do as well although if either store becomes "broken" from falling behind on freight, like we've seen with some Walmart stores that turn into Pallet City, the order fulfillment breaks.

The failing retailers are the ones that are trying to layer on this extra work with no proper investments in labor to improve the inventory accuracy. Walgreens is a good example, I assume the Office stores, Michaels, Big Lots, PetSmart and others I mentioned on my "bad" list also act the same way and assume their regular processes are adequate when in reality they are not. Then the customer has a bad experience with canceled orders or canceled items.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: December 6th, 2023, 10:04 am

The other piece I didn't mention is that online ordering success is based on inventory accuracy. The store chains that are doing a better job are shifting labor from checkouts, cleaning/stocking, etc. to perform more cycle counts and other maintenance work which is higher skilled and usually done by higher wage (ie. Not entry level) workers. So this is another significant cost as even being in stock on the physical shelf isn't enough anymore - consider that if the item is stocked and on the shelf but the inventory count in the system is short then you can't sell it online. So this is another example where the in store conditions and service levels take a back seat to online ordering only further eroding their profitability.

I believe CVS and Rite Aid have good programs for this work which is why you're reporting successful order fulfillment. For the most part Walmart and Target do as well although if either store becomes "broken" from falling behind on freight, like we've seen with some Walmart stores that turn into Pallet City, the order fulfillment breaks.

The failing retailers are the ones that are trying to layer on this extra work with no proper investments in labor to improve the inventory accuracy. Walgreens is a good example, I assume the Office stores, Michaels, Big Lots, PetSmart and others I mentioned on my "bad" list also act the same way and assume their regular processes are adequate when in reality they are not. Then the customer has a bad experience with canceled orders or canceled items.
I do selectively pick which CVS units to do pick up at, stores that I know are stocked well. There are some really poorly stocked ones around too, but when I dial into them usually most of what I'm trying to order isn't even orderable. I don't think CVS lets you order if the store only has 1 unit left. The Rite Aid program has been great and I will miss it.

I've done some orders with Petsmart (and Petco) too. Both of these chains have prices online lower than in store and often have a percent off coupon for pick up orders in addition to the already lower everyday pricing. Petco I had an issue where the unit in Reno canceled my entire order about 6 hours after I placed it, except one random item, and I went to the store and found the stuff canceled on a pallet not yet stocked, they refused to price match the website and honor the website discount code. I couldn't get a clear answer from them if the one item they fulfilled would still get the discount from the website percent off so I just told them to cancel it entirely. It was about $90 worth of product so it was worth my while to order at another Petco and I did and they fulfilled the order in about 20 minutes without issue but were pretty rude at pick up- they basically threw a cart with my items (unbagged) at me and said here you go. Asked for a receipt- was told to check my email. Petsmart I've done orders with, also they price match the website in store in Reno (don't think their policy says they do this, but this location does), haven't really had any issues with them. They usually fulfill within 40 minutes.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by Romr123 »

The other side of correct counts is purging of outdated/expired items, and RiteAid is also on top of that--around SE Michigan they liberally use the cents off stickers to clear even things like candy and snacks if they're approaching sell-by. I have far less concern about getting expired things (even on clearance) at RA than other stores like Target.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by bryceleinan »

storewanderer wrote: December 5th, 2023, 11:46 pm
ClownLoach wrote: December 5th, 2023, 9:42 am

I would not consider zone pricing workarounds to be a way these retailers offer a discount intentionally to those who manipulate their systems.

Target zone pricing as seen here is an issue and sounds like many have figured out ways around it, but they've aggressively reduced the discounts they were offering for Drive Up orders. Before you would see huge special coupon deals only for Drive Up, all the TV commercials were about Drive Up, etc. That is no longer the case. They changed their ad campaigns earlier this year, are using a different slogan that hasn't been officially "announced" the way Target PR normally does (slogan is "that's Totally Target"), and are back to focusing on the lifestyle and affordability aspect of shopping Target. In other words same ads they used to run with the long-standing Expect More, Pay Less campaign. I do not believe that they are doing anything to encourage people to choose Drive Up over in store anymore, quite the opposite in fact with the Circle loyalty offers that are only in store right now.

This discussion is something I started to raise here a lot over the last month, that retailers are starting to wake up with the rising labor costs and never ending obsolescence cycles of multi-million dollar e-commerce applications and systems. They are not getting a return on their investment and they likely never will when you consider that sales floor people who used to be tasked with service, recovery, and light stocking in retailers are now all focused only on pulling online orders and oblivious in most cases to the bands of thieves who are looting the place an aisle away. They are realizing that the cost of shopping for the customer from a labor perspective is between 20-30 minutes per order unless the store is doing a phenomenal number of orders and the retailer has purchased extremely expensive software that integrates with space planning systems to "batch" orders so that an employee can make a single trip to pull 30+ orders in aisle number order with a computer generated shopping list that starts at one end of the store and ends at the other.

The retailers who I believe are waking up are: Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's Club, and Kohl's who have all either mentioned specifically that they're reducing the push for pickup orders (Kohl's), eliminating curbside (Kohl's), adding fees (Sam's), or basically stopped advertising it entirely (Home Depot and Lowe's).

I'm going to disagree with the consensus here and say Target is waking up too and following the lead of Walmart, who is probably the only other retailer who has pushed for enough volume in conjunction with the right systems and procedures for order batching and space mapping systems. These software solutions can reduce the labor of order picking by an astonishing 95% as they send an employee out once orders have piled up and the system has sent them with a new "pick list" in aisle order for a single trip. The software helps them sort by order once the trip around the store is done. I have read comments from incredulously entitled customers who don't understand these systems which give estimates of pickup time. They place their orders from the Starbucks next door and then complain that their order isn't done instantaneously as if they have their own personal shopper who is going to drop everything to roam the aisles for their can of dog food, trash bags and package of Preparation-H. But the retailers are getting smarter and can afford to lose that sale from the unreasonable customer who isn't going to find any better service elsewhere.

The retailers who in my mind have let their stores go straight to hell operationally, physically, etc. to pursue this fruitless online pickup first exercise include in my mind CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Office Depot, Kroger, PetSmart, Michaels, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Big Lots. What they all have in common (except for Kroger) is small order sizes of just a few items and likely small numbers of orders each hour which make it impossible to reduce the labor with the expensive software as they won't have enough orders to "batch" for a single trip around the store before the customer shows up, except maybe in the morning before opening. So they must always have staff dedicated to pulling orders basically one at a time. If they wait too long then the item might be selected by a in-store customer and run out so then a refund will have to be issued. For that reason a model of "your order will be ready to pick up tomorrow at opening" doesn't work well for these small stores. In my eyes all of them should stop pickup service entirely and just switch to Instacart or Shipt. It would allow them to run their own businesses again and move the labor back to serving the customer, maintaining the store, and also added bonus of reducing shrink. Heck, it might mean lowering prices too. Meanwhile the customer who wants the personal shopping service actually has to pay the cost of it, instead of everyone else paying with either higher prices with the cost baked in or forced self-service options like some of these stores have made where nearly all the registers are replaced by self checkout. We all know damned well that part of the inflation issue has been retailers pushing the costs of these services back onto the customer wherever they can.

I firmly believe that the next 12 to 18 months are going to be an awakening for the retail industry as more and more of them stand up to Wall Street and say "look, you clowns wanted us to add these services, but you value profits even more. This stuff isn't profitable and our sales and earnings will go up dramatically if we drop it.". I think most of these chains are running negative units per transaction and have ever since they started the online push. That means that even if they lose a few customers by curtailed pickup, it they will offset them with increased sales through higher units per transaction from more in store impulse buys and better overall store conditions (fuller shelves).
I have done a lot of pick up orders with CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. The CVS and Rite Aid services have been flawless- all of my orders are pretty small (a few items) and these orders are typically picked and ready for pick up within 10 minutes of my order. These stores aren't very busy and it isn't very hard for the cashier who is standing up front to go pick a couple items, scan them out, and throw them on the pick up shelf. These two chains have never canceled an order due to being out of stock either. Walgreens---- is a lot more fun. Walgreens established a $10 minimum for pick up orders. I have had entire orders canceled, been shorted items, frequently have at least an item or two canceled from the order, been given amazing substitutes (like double the size of the product I ordered at no extra charge), peculiar application of coupons where it is a coupon for x.xx off 2 units, they cancel 1 unit, and I still get the full x.xx off that 1 unit, and often fulfillment takes 2+ hours to occur. My favorite Walgreens experience was ordering a couple items right as I was in the store (as the website price was 5.99 buy 1 get 1 50% off and in the store the price was 16.99- this was back during the "disposable glove shortage" of COVID) and I picked my two boxes and took them up front to say I did an online order and the supervisor on duty canceled my order as I was walking up front with the product. So I did another order and as I approached her she was on the handheld and canceled it too. I called her out on cancelling the order when she had the inventory and she had some excuse about not being able to leave the register and them being "timed on orders," so I placed a third order and she went ahead and processed it at that point; I left them a terrible receipt survey but of course never heard from anyone.


Wal Mart's pick up service has brought many customers to Wal Mart in suburb type areas who otherwise would not shop there. I feel this has been very successful for them. The core Wal Mart customer doesn't care about pick up service and doesn't want to mess with online ordering but a number of customers who drive by Wal Mart Stores daily and may like to save money but hate the thought of physically entering Wal Mart, and like ordering on websites, are prime "new customers" for Wal Mart and from what I see in my area and some people I talk to they have picked up a LOT of new customers this way. Target I think is just working with existing customers converting them from in store to Drive Up and I don't think Drive Up brought them many extra customers and I think it may have hurt them because it kills impulse buys.

Another one I've had fun with pick up is Maverik. They ran a promotion, try our pick up service get a $5 Maverik Gift Card. So I ordered 1 cookie and went to pick it up. The store hadn't baked any cookies that day and the employee didn't know what to do and pointed to a person and said that's the store manager go talk to him. I explained it to him and he said I'm sorry but we didn't bake any cookies and offered me a muffin as a substitute and also didn't charge me for the drink I was carrying that I was going to pay for in store. I went back to the same store a few days later - placed another online order- same story again but this time no muffins either. This time the manager did offer me a refund and said I can have free drinks for the next week... I mentioned to not worry about the next week but also that I had done the online order to get a free $5 gift card so I'd just claim that and be done. Next embarrassment: he had no gift cards... said he was out of stock on them. I eventually claimed it at another store.
My experience with Walgreens was similar to yours. When I picked up COVID at the end of September, I had to go to both CVS and Wags for drugs & supplies. The pharmacy tech at the pickup window was pretty rude and basically implied I should get off my tush and get in the store to pick up my order. Had to tell her I had COVID, and needed her to figure out a solution, since I wasn’t going in. She huffed and eventually returned with my order… not my problem that your employer encourages pickup, yet cannot properly staff for it.

My experience with CVS was worse. Took over an hour to get two prescriptions, and 8 phone calls until I could get someone on the phone, only to be hung up on. It was an absolute nightmare, I’d rather eat glass than go back to that location.

Target in Alameda is a cross between my experience at Walgreens and CVS. My last order took 90 mins to pickup, as they had not picked part of it, even though I received a pickup notification.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by storewanderer »

bryceleinan wrote: December 22nd, 2023, 9:50 pm


My experience with Walgreens was similar to yours. When I picked up COVID at the end of September, I had to go to both CVS and Wags for drugs & supplies. The pharmacy tech at the pickup window was pretty rude and basically implied I should get off my tush and get in the store to pick up my order. Had to tell her I had COVID, and needed her to figure out a solution, since I wasn’t going in. She huffed and eventually returned with my order… not my problem that your employer encourages pickup, yet cannot properly staff for it.

My experience with CVS was worse. Took over an hour to get two prescriptions, and 8 phone calls until I could get someone on the phone, only to be hung up on. It was an absolute nightmare, I’d rather eat glass than go back to that location.

Target in Alameda is a cross between my experience at Walgreens and CVS. My last order took 90 mins to pickup, as they had not picked part of it, even though I received a pickup notification.
What is funny is if you had gone IN to Walgreens and told them you had COVID, they probably would have freaked out, backed away from you, and told you to go through drive through...

If they don't want to do pick up via drive through then they could have told you to go park near the front door, then pharmacy could call front end staff and tell them you are there for pick up, describe your vehicle to them, and have them carry your order out that way. Not quite the service advertised but would have at least gotten you on your way.

And to think in the past some Walgreens would put random merchandise IN the drive through window for drive through customers to see, hoping to get some impulse sales out of them... some tried candy, OTC pain relief, cough drops, vitamin c, etc... back when the employees actually cared and back when Walgreens was actually trying...

CVS... yeah, calling their pharmacy is like trying to call the post office.
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by ClownLoach »

storewanderer wrote: December 23rd, 2023, 12:02 am
bryceleinan wrote: December 22nd, 2023, 9:50 pm


My experience with Walgreens was similar to yours. When I picked up COVID at the end of September, I had to go to both CVS and Wags for drugs & supplies. The pharmacy tech at the pickup window was pretty rude and basically implied I should get off my tush and get in the store to pick up my order. Had to tell her I had COVID, and needed her to figure out a solution, since I wasn’t going in. She huffed and eventually returned with my order… not my problem that your employer encourages pickup, yet cannot properly staff for it.

My experience with CVS was worse. Took over an hour to get two prescriptions, and 8 phone calls until I could get someone on the phone, only to be hung up on. It was an absolute nightmare, I’d rather eat glass than go back to that location.

Target in Alameda is a cross between my experience at Walgreens and CVS. My last order took 90 mins to pickup, as they had not picked part of it, even though I received a pickup notification.
What is funny is if you had gone IN to Walgreens and told them you had COVID, they probably would have freaked out, backed away from you, and told you to go through drive through...

If they don't want to do pick up via drive through then they could have told you to go park near the front door, then pharmacy could call front end staff and tell them you are there for pick up, describe your vehicle to them, and have them carry your order out that way. Not quite the service advertised but would have at least gotten you on your way.

And to think in the past some Walgreens would put random merchandise IN the drive through window for drive through customers to see, hoping to get some impulse sales out of them... some tried candy, OTC pain relief, cough drops, vitamin c, etc... back when the employees actually cared and back when Walgreens was actually trying...

CVS... yeah, calling their pharmacy is like trying to call the post office.
CVS is working hard to completely remove phones from store pharmacies and make them inside lines only. When you call you'll always have to go through the call center. If you're having trouble getting through on the phone now then it's likely that location has already converted to a call center. They are aggressively hiring right now for remote workers for pharmaceutical customer service. My wife applied and the application process is outrageous. They basically have you download a simulator to your computer that makes you listen to phone calls and both enter drug information from the call AND respond to emails simultaneously. Does that sound like a good idea? It was about a ten minute simulated process and I thought she did well, but they never called back. If you did it any faster I guarantee you would have missed something. Basically now someone in their house will have your medical info on the screen, call your doctor to talk to them and ask them questions about your prescription, then call the pharmacist at the store and relay the info. This is exactly what was simulated as an "everyday example of work as a CVS pharmacy remote customer care agent."
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Re: Retailers ignoring physical locations while pushing online ordering

Post by storewanderer »

ClownLoach wrote: December 24th, 2023, 10:32 pm

CVS is working hard to completely remove phones from store pharmacies and make them inside lines only. When you call you'll always have to go through the call center. If you're having trouble getting through on the phone now then it's likely that location has already converted to a call center. They are aggressively hiring right now for remote workers for pharmaceutical customer service. My wife applied and the application process is outrageous. They basically have you download a simulator to your computer that makes you listen to phone calls and both enter drug information from the call AND respond to emails simultaneously. Does that sound like a good idea? It was about a ten minute simulated process and I thought she did well, but they never called back. If you did it any faster I guarantee you would have missed something. Basically now someone in their house will have your medical info on the screen, call your doctor to talk to them and ask them questions about your prescription, then call the pharmacist at the store and relay the info. This is exactly what was simulated as an "everyday example of work as a CVS pharmacy remote customer care agent."
This makes sense; they do not have time to have drawn out phone calls. Not enough staffing in the pharmacy.

They must be hoping as errors are made from multitasking that the pharmacist or whoever receives the data will find the error (of course then they will have to spend time to correct it... stop their work flow to correct it...). I was curious what those remote customer service agent jobs where; I have heard of a number of CVS in-store employees talking about those and have applied for them (they want to get out of the store, but would like to keep working for CVS to keep seniority). So it is possible a lot of those positions are going to internal candidates.

I am really curious where CVS is going to take pharmacy in the future. With fantastic ideas like what you describe above I don't think this model of having all these big retail stores all over with understaffed/rude/overworked/miserable employees being face to face with customers is going to continue.

Maybe they can employ a model like the Little Caesars pick up locker. There is no more face to face between customer and employee (this may even make sense in a pharmacy environment with many sick/contagious customers). You go to your assigned locker and pick up a phone receiver (I wouldn't want to touch that phone receiver...) and get your consult etc. If you need to show ID for controlled substance you can pass it through the locker or display it on camera or something.
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