Guest Post: Walmart Joins Free Ship-To-Stores Trend

by Andrea Woroch

Walmart recently announced it has introduced a program called "Pick Up Today", which allows customers to order a product online and pick it up a few hours later from their local store. It anticipates offering this service at all 3,600 stores by June.

The program is expected to increase store visits -- as it has for other retailers -- usually leading to more sales. Best Buy, for example, offers both store pickup and ship-to-store, in which items are sent directly to a customer's local store for pickup.

The "Pick Up Today" program isn't revolutionary. Sears, LL Bean and several other major merchants already have similar offerings. But Walmart is by far the largest merchant to make the move, setting the bar for its competitors.

Here are details for 10 merchants that offer similar programs that I invite you to share on your website, blog, or with your audience.

1. Walmart
Walmart offers tens of thousands of products online that are eligible for "Site to Store" in the contiguous United States, including furniture, electronics, tires, baby gear and exercise equipment. Many of these items are not regularly available in Walmart stores. Orders typically take 1-2 days to process and usually arrive at the store 7-10 business days later.

2. JCPenney
Most ship-to-store items are delivered free, although heavy or bulky items may have an additional shipping and handling charge. Most orders are available for pickup in 4-7 days, although some exceptions apply. Use the merchants "Store Locater" feature to find the retail outlet that offers JCPenney free shipping to stores.

3. REI
Shipping time for the free "REI Store Pickup" varies, based on the location of the store you select, however it does offer limited tracking of orders. Your item is not eligible for the store pickup program if the option doesn't appear in your shopping cart at checkout.

4. LL Bean
Most in-stock items can be shipped free to the LL Bean store near you within about seven days. Back-ordered items and some products that require special handling (such as furniture, boats, bikes and gift cards), cannot be shipped to a store. The merchant doesn't offer shipping to LL Bean Outlets. In addition to free site to store shipping, there are also LL Bean free shipping codes you can take advantage of for online shopping.

5. Best Buy
Some items are eligible for immediate pickup, while others may be available for free ship-to-shore. Consumers will be notified of pickup date during checkout. Best Buy also offers a "Friends and Family Pickup" that allows you to place an order and have someone else pick it up.

If your product is available in-store at a lower price when you pick the item up, your payment will automatically be adjusted to reflect the lowest available price.

6. Cabela's
The sports giant offers free shipping with in-store pickup of almost any product. In-stock items may take 5-8 business days for delivery. Ineligible products include items shipped directly from the manufacturer, hazardous products and purchases made with gift certificates and gift cards.

7. Sears
Items marked with a "Blue Car" logo are eligible for free in-store pickup. Consumers will be notified when the item is available. Just bring in your email confirmation and credit card for processing at the in-store kiosk or curbside pickup. If your item isn't ready in five minutes, you receive a $5 store coupon.

8. Payless Shoes
Payless offers free in-store delivery via the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and Payless Shoe Source. The retailers shipping system will automatically select the best delivery carrier, based on your location. Delivery services and carriers vary by destination. Your order will arrive in 14-17 days after it leaves the Payless warehouse. A $10 surcharge applies to orders shipped to stores in Alaska and Hawaii.

9. Nordstrom
While all items shown online are available for shipment, many may also be purchased online for free pickup at a Nordstrom store near you. To find out which items are available at your local Nordstrom, select the "Store Availability" filter and enter your ZIP code. Then select a manageable traveling distance for you, from 5 to 100 miles. Click "Go" and you'll see items that are in stock in your region.

Alternatively, look for the "Pickup in Store" button near the "Add to Shopping Bag" button on any item page. You'll be able to enter your ZIP and travel radius and will be notified which stores in your designated area have the size and color you're looking for. Then you let Nordstrom know which store is most convenient for you.

10. Ace Hardware
When an item on is available for Ship-to-Store, you can save shipping costs by choosing to have your items delivered to an Ace Hardware store near you. You'll be notified via email when your order has left the retailers warehouse. Delivery to Alaska and Hawaii will take approximately 15-35 business days and is available at a 70-percent shipping discount. The Ace Hardware free shipping to store is not available for clearance items and gift cards. 

Consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch, is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews to talk about merchants that offer site to store free shipping. As a broadcast and print media source, Andrea has appeared on ABC News NOW, NBC's Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC and has been quoted by SmartMoney, Kiplinger Personal Finance and many more

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