Reserve-in-Store rolled out at Gap and Banana Republic

Fashion retail group Gap Inc has increased the number of its stores that offer a Reserve in Store service, with all Banana Republic shops in the US and more than 200 Gap stores across the country now providing this option to online and mobile shoppers.

Consumers accessing the retailers' eCommerce sites can now reserve up to five items per day and, within one hour, they will receive an email or text confirming their items are on hold, along with pick-up instructions. The selected items will be held in a chosen store until close of business the following day.

Gap was slow to launch a transactional website for its European markets, rolling out sites in key territories in the autumn of 2010, and it has not yet been announced if and when the Reserve in Store service will be offered outside of the US. However, the forthcoming Christmas season will provide an opportunity for the retailer to test these new fulfilment capabilities at what is typically the busiest time of the year.

The business said that a recent pilot of the system in San Francisco and Chicago-area Gap and Banana Republic stores proved successful, and it is viewed as a key part of the retailer's multichannel strategy in the coming years.

Tom Sands, executive vice president at Gap North America, commented: "With Reserve in Store, our stores are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We're focused on delivering an incredible store experience and making it even more convenient for our customers to shop with us however and whenever they want."

Another tool that Gap Inc uses to bridge the online world and the bricks and mortar retail experience is a 'find in store' feature, which offers mobile and online shoppers information about local store product availability. The business also runs an inventory system that allows it to 'ship from store'.

Gap's focus on joining up its retail channels comes as research from Forrester Consulting found that cross-channel fulfilment programmes are the top priority in modern retail. The study indicated, however, that  49% of retailers currently use an order management system, but many of these solutions do not support the complex requirements of multichannel shopping.

The survey, which was commissioned by OrderDynamics, an eCommera company, found that 26% of retailers in the US and 47% of retailers in Europe already have ship-from-store capabilities, while 10% and 18% respectively soon plan to offer this option.

According to the report, 23% of retailers already have a buy-online, pick-up-in-store programme in place, while 20% have a reserve-only pick-up-in-store service. It is expected that store pick-up numbers are set to almost triple over the next year.

Forrester surveyed 337 decision makers, representing retailers across North America, Europe and Asia.

President at OrderDynamics Michael Turcsanyi said: "Omnichannel fulfilment represents a strategic advantage for many retailers by leveraging inventory across multiple locations, and streamlining fulfilment processes.

"These initiatives ultimately lead to reduced operational costs, and more importantly, an enhanced customer shopping experience. It's clear retailers recognise a retail order management system as a strategic solution for enabling next generation fulfilment tactics and gaining an advantage over direct competitors and nimble web-only retailers."