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Gap Knows What In-Store Shopping is Missing: The Internet

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Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

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The future of online shopping has arrived—and Gap is the one giving it to us. After a pilot that began late 2013, the mass retailer rolled out its Reserve In Store program to all US stores (including Banana Republic shops) this month. The system lets customers select items online to be waiting in store—no transaction and no account required. Online shopper who winds up returning half of what you ordered? This is for you.

The nearly seamless connection between online and in-store shopping is what retailers call omni-channel, and its the puzzle all major brands want to solve. Simply put, customers who shop electronically (be it through a desktop site, mobile site, or an app) and in store with the same brand spend more money. And those tech-savvy customers? They're likely millennials, who have cash to burn and an interest in spending it on themselves—an incredibly attractive demographic to capture, particularly in apparel.

Jennifer M. Poppers, Senior Manager of Communications for Gap's Growth, Innovation and Digital division, explained to Racked, "We've been on this omni-channel journey, beginning with Ship From Store, which [turned] our stores into distribution centers, which allowed us to be more agile with our inventory. From that, we built Find In Store, which lets customers know if an item is in a store near them, and from that came Reserve In Store."

The expansion is nicely timed with the buzz around new creative director Rebekka Bay, whose first collection for the brand touched down this spring. Reserve that GapFit sports bra in a few sizes to try through the site, then show up at the shop and come face-to-face with a breezy white dress you didn't know you needed. Coincidence?

Here's how it works: While on any product page on the Gap site (or Banana Republic site), shoppers can click "Find In Store," just below the "Add to Bag" button. A pop up prompts you to select color and size, and shows availability and near by stores (you can edit the ZIP code and radius you want to search within on the same pop up). Click "Reserve In Store" and you're prompted to enter first and last name, e-mail address, and the option to get text reminders—but no need to create an account or enter a password. Once the item is located in store, you receive an e-mail (or a text, depending on what you've selected) confirming the hold. You have until the following day at store close to pick up your items.

When you arrive in store, a sales associate will fetch the items you've put on hold and will act as a stylist, if you so desire. Josh Mahoney, VP of Product Development for the Growth, Innovation and Digital at Gap, Inc., told Racked by e-mail that this is a further effort to personalize the shopping experience: "We know each customer wants something slightly different. Some want to try on their reserved items, others want advice and guidance on what else would look stylish with the items they reserved, and others simply want to check out quickly."
· Reserve In Store [Gap]
· First Look: Feeling the COS at Gap Fall 2014 [Racked]
· Five Clues About Where Gap's Going From Rebekka Bay [Racked]