This service will give URBN customers “the flexibility to pick up their orders at safe and convenient locations across the country,” the company’s chief information officer, John Devine, said in a statement on the website of Narvar, a San Francisco-based software firm that is behind the partnership at more than 8,000 Walgreens locations.
Buying online and picking up in a store is becoming a “very effective strategy” for retailers, said Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the Wharton School. Amazon’s rise as an e-commerce giant, especially with its quick shipping and locker pick-ups in many locations, has prompted other retailers to catch up.
More than half of U.S. adults use what the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) calls “click and collect," for reasons including no delivery fee and receiving items more quickly, according to a 2019 survey. It’s more popular with millennials, with more than 60% of them opting for the service.
Not only is this something customers choose, but it drives sales. The ICSC found that 67% of people buy more items when picking up an order in a store.
Walmart has found success in the buy-online, pick-up-in-store model, Kahn said, noting that the company’s size and scope make its physical stores easily accessible to most Americans.
“They’re changing expectations of what people think is convenient ,” Kahn said. “Other retailers might find creative ways to make it work.”
URBN, based at the Navy Yard, did not respond to requests for comment in April when Narvar announced this partnership. Nor did the company respond Friday when the service was running on its websites. It is unclear the exact date this feature launched and if it is offered at all the participating Walgreens locations. In the United States, there were 178 Urban Outfitters stores, 203 Anthropologie stores, and 128 Free People stores on July 31, the company said in its quarterly report.
URBN is not the only company participating in this partnership.
Other businesses, like Cole Haan and Levi Strauss & Co., are part of the launch of Narvar’s “concierge” service with Walgreens and select Nordstrom stores, offering the options of just pickup, just returns, or both.
Kohl’s announced in April that it would partner with Amazon to accept returns from the ecommerce giant in its more than 1,100 stores nationwide. Kohl’s executives told analysts in August that this program is driving customers to its stores, as they had hoped.
“We’re ramping the Amazon Returns programs, so as we think about entering the holiday season, that should be driving new traffic and new customers into our Kohl’s stores,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass told analysts.
Walgreens hopes this partnership also attracts more foot traffic to its stores. Almost 80% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walgreens, Duane Reade, or Walgreens-owned Rite Aid store as of August 2018, the company said.
Urban Outfitters has made other strategic moves to adapt to shopping trends.
With the clothing rental market projected to rise from almost $1.3 billion in 2019 to over $2.5 billion by 2023, Urban Outfitters launched its own rental service in July.
This service, Nuuly, comes with an $88 subscription, letting customers choose up to six items from over 1,000 styles.
Nuuly offers subscribers “current fashion at a substantially lower cost per wear than retail,” David Hayne, Nuuly’s president, told analysts in May, "solving the paradox of a millennial’s quest for constant fashion newness alongside the desire for a more sustainable lifestyle.”
Elain Szu, Narvar’s vice president of global marketing, said in April that ordering from a retailer like URBN and picking it up at a Walgreens makes the process as flexible as possible for the consumer.