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Lauren Leach: A deep dive into the click and collect concept – Retail Customer Experience

Lauren Leach wrote an article for Retail Customer Experience titled “A deep dive into the click and collect concept.”

While much has been written about brick and mortar retailers’ continuing fight for market share with online competitors, data on continually evolving consumer preferences also demonstrates a desire by many to combine both shopping experiences. Enter: click and collect.

The click and collect concept enables shoppers to purchase items online and pick them up in-store, merging ecommerce and bricks and mortar. It can make the shopping journey more convenient for consumers by making a purchase from the comfort of their own home, and collecting the item whenever is most convenient for them, instead of paying for shipping or waiting for their delivery to arrive.

Different types of click and collect services:

  • In-store retail click and collect.
  • In-store lockers.
  • Remote pickup: includes use of various affiliated stores as pickup points. Other options include UPS, FedEx, or post offices as designated pickup points.
  • Ship-to-store: allows an online shopper to have an item delivered to the store from a distribution center and made available for collection when it’s not possible to find an item in stock at a local store.

Why do customers uses click and collect services?

Globally, click and collect, also known as ‘buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS)’ is considered the most valuable aspect of the retail shopping experience for more than four in 10 consumers, according to a February 2019 report from iVend Retail.

In 2018, 81.4% of ecommerce shoppers worldwide reported ordering items online for in-store pickup (up nearly 30 percentage points from the prior year) as more consumers are drawn to the service’s convenience and speed. Nearly half said they used click-and-collect services to avoid shipping fees, followed by roughly 45% who used it to save time by not having to shop in-store.

Points to consider before implementing click and collect:

  • Consider additional inventory within the store. Staff must be trained effectively and ready to cope with the potential demand placed on stores for processing the additional click and collect deliveries, as well as despatching orders to the customer in store.
  • Ensure there is room in the store, for example the back office, to receive and process click and collect deliveries.
  • Use in-store inventory for speed and convenience.
  • Produce signage for an easy to find, designated parcel collection point.
  • Develop a clear, concise, and organized question/answer process.
  • Train employees for upselling during the click and collect process; which is critical for making the most of click and collect sales. For example, if the store staff scans a package and sees that it contains a black dress, they could suggest shoes or accessories to pair it with.

How retailers can fine tune their click and collect execution

Designated location for in-store pickup: With an increasing number of orders arriving at the store, the processes and store associates have to be well prepared for the order pickups. Experts unanimously recommend setting up a designated location for in-store pickup. However, they don’t all agree as to where at the store this area should be located. Some suggest a central location to up-sell, while others prefer the front of the store for customer convenience.

Merchandise storage system: The merchandise storage system should include adjustable components like dividers, baskets, shelves, bins and hang rods to accommodate products of varying sizes and shapes. Most retailers also incorporate lockable glass doors and drawers to securely store merchandise until the customer arrives for pick-up.

Case studies

Zara’s click-and-collect pop-up store at the Westfield shopping center in east London helps customers with their online purchases, returns, and exchanges. The concept store features an area for online orders where customers can pick up their purchases without needing help from employees, thanks to an automated warehouse behind the store. Customers are able to scan a QR code or provide a pin number to activate the warehouse to retrieve their purchases.

Walmart’s in-store self-service kiosks, called “Pickup Towers” offer a simplified pickup process for online purchases. When a customer places an order online, they can use the Walmart app to notify the store when they are on their way to the store, to ensure their items are ready upon arrival. Then, customers enter the store, locate the Pickup Tower, and use their smartphone to scan an order confirmation barcode. Within 45 seconds, a door on the machine opens, and the items appear on a conveyor belt.

Amazon’s Hub Locker+ lets customers pick up the items from a nearby locker. During the checkout process when shopping on Amazon.com, the customer chooses one of the many Amazon Hub Locker+ locations. The customer then can pick up their items, often same-day, from the locker without waiting in line.

Target offers drive up service where store employees bring the customer’s goods to their car. The customer shops for their items in the Target app and selects “drive up” at checkout. Once the order is ready for pickup, the customer parks in a designated spot and within moments an employee loads the items directly in the customer’s car.

Nordstrom offers curb side pickup service where shoppers can collect online orders without leaving their cars. Upon arrival, a store employee walks the customer’s order out to their car at the designated pickup location. Nordstrom also offers the option to pick up in-store.

Know the customer and then evolve, adapt, and thrive. It is a mantra and approach every retailer should adhere to. After all, you never know when the “next big thing” will come along and compete for the customer’s attention and purchase.