Ace has long been pretty much the runaway perennial leader in its powerful class of retailers’ hardware cooperatives.  The co-op wins the top, prestigious customer service awards pretty much every year.  Here, Ace doesn’t merely win against competing cooperatives or the member retailers of those co-ops.  Ace often beats all retailers within the industry, even the wealthy big boxes.

Visiting Ace members in Mexico and South America, it is not unusual to find that the store or chain owner has visited Ace headquarters in the USA at least once, been given informative tours of member stores, as well as the headquarters, and participated in conferences with progressive Ace store owners within our home-front.

The feedback one hears from these foreign Ace dealers is one of overwhelming praise.  They return to their countries with a sense of purpose, comfort and security as to the knowledge and support provided by Ace.

A couple of months ago in this space, an Insight appeared entitled Ace Delivers.  The article revealed that among the many recent customer-centric innovations Ace has recently championed, the latest-Express Delivery, was in its testing stages prior to a full rollout.  For a five dollar service charge, customers who place an order by 1 PM can be guaranteed same day delivery.  This is especially helpful for customers whose vehicles cannot easily accommodate their order.  The fee is a lot less than the cost of a renting a vehicle or even a taxi ride.

Now Ace adds another service to its quiver, a service designed to compete with the largest of the big box chains across the spectrum of retailing.  Ace is expanding its previously tested Free Store Pickup program to participating members nationwide.

Free Store Pickup allows customers to check their local Ace store’s available inventory online at the corporate website.  Customers can then either visit their favorite Ace store knowing that the relevant items will be awaiting them, or they can place the order online and pick it up in-store the same day in most cases.

This pretty much matches policies which the big boxes, across all retailing avenues, have taken years to develop.  It places Ace at the top of the leader board, with the added benefit that this convenience is neighborhood based.  Customers needing to make an urgent repair generally don’t have far to go to visit the nearest Ace location.  They also have a considerably shorter in/out time than is required within big boxes.

Free Store Pickup is now a distinct click-thru on the Ace website.  For most retailers this solves a problem for the many customers who don’t want to pay for shipping when purchasing from the convenience of a website.  Of course, with Ace, delivery from a local store is currently only five dollars.  Still, now Ace offers inexpensive choices to guarantee that customers can have the products they urgently need, at little to no extra cost.