CBA, the Association for Christian Retail, unveiled a new program that allows Christian stores to sell products online with home delivery or in-store pick-up options for customers that will be featured on its store locator website, ChristianStores.org. Scheduled to launch later this year, the Get It Local Today program includes inventory search capabilities and allows customers to buy or reserve products online for immediate in-store pick-up or to be shipped to customers' homes.
ChristianStores.org, which refers store searches and website visits to local stores for purchase, will act as the central website, serving as a one-stop-shop. Customers can still order directly through store sites, however.
“The Get It Local Today program is intended to drive people to the stores, so if they are using the store site, that’s great,” said Sharon Roberts, content manager for the CBA. “The program has been established because many Christian stores do not have their own site [and] do not have the capability to fulfill orders online.”
Publishers, authors, and suppliers will have an online button on their websites directing customers to the ChristianStores.org site, rather than to Amazon or big-box stories, for purchases through any local Christian store listed on the page. “[Customers] want to be able to see whether a product is in-store and know that if they go to the store, they can purchase it immediately,” said Roberts.
Christian retailers must opt-in to the Get It Local Today program, and participating retailers will be able to redeem sale and promotional credits in an automated way from publishers and suppliers for products sold through it. The program has already attracted 150 stores, and it will launch when the total number of store participants reaches 400.
Curtis Riskey, who has served as president of the CBA since 2010, said the new initiative gives Christian retailers a new way to compete with today’s competition online. "Store traffic will never be the way it once was because of the Internet and e-commerce, but brick-and-mortar retailers still have the advantage if they can connect to customers the way they are shopping today,” he said in a statement.
According to Riskey, it is “essential” to connect consumers to store inventory for specific products online in today’s market. "All of retailing is going through challenging times,” Riskey said. "Being able to provide a compelling in-store experience plus offering the convenience and speed of ordering online are a winning combination in the new retailing world."