By Chuck Martin
The returns and exchange parts of shopping are becoming more, well, mobile, at least at one major retailer.
Sears just expanded a service that lets mobile consumers return and exchange items without getting out of their car.
The idea is that a shopper with an item to either return or exchange, and a smartphone, can do so without going into the store.
The consumer goes online to the Sears website before leaving home and enters the info on the item to be returned. For an exchange, the shopper selects the item they want in return for what they’re bringing back.
They then drive to the store, park in a designated pick-up area, open an app and then click on an in-vehicle pickup button.
Although it sounds simple enough, it’s a bit more complex or at least the shopper needs some background knowledge to make it all work.
On the website, they need to know to click on the customer service tab to be able to find the returns and exchange location. The online forms then are simple and self-explanatory.
Then they drive to the store when they’re supposed to open an app called Shop Your Way. They then have to know to select the Shop’In & Stores tab, among many other choices, where they then can find the in-vehicle pickup button as one of several options.
Curiously, the returns/exchange feature does not yet appear to be on the Sears mobile website, though it is in the Sears app, where a consumer would likely look go first, especially when at a Sears store.
Sears promises a parking-lot wait time of no more than five minutes for a store associate to arrive at the car to retrieve the item being returned or deliver the product being exchanged.
Aside from being literally a sitting target for location-based messaging during that time, at least one more piece of the digital-physical shopping cycle is being linked together. Even if the store itself is left out of the picture.
Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker internationally. He also addresses Social Media in Mobile.