Click and collect has huge customer benefits but for the retailer trying to get it right it can be a costly and difficult business.

Business 2 Community (1)

Click and collect has never been so popular but quite how crucial the service would turn out to be in the omni-channel age wasn’t quite so obvious when Argos first launched it in 2001.

Fast forward to today and every sector has got in on the action and it remains high on the strategy list too, with 90% of respondents in the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey 2015 saying that innovation in click and collect was an important aspect of multi-channel strategy for 2015.

Indeed a review of the click and collect market from IMRG, published in April, concluded that click and collect was now a must have delivery option for UK retailers with such options, whether in-store, parcel store or lockers, set to grow by 20% a year. The report found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of online shoppers had used such services and another 10% planned to do so in the near future.

Similarly a report from Barclays suggests that click and collect volumes will account for more than a third (34.5%) of all deliveries by 2018 with delivery to store via click and collect or to a locker or collection point the fastest growing delivery methods that customers expect to use this year. More than a third (38.2%) of retailers expect it to grow more in terms of usage than any other delivery option and 43% of retailers are investing more in it.

Its benefits are well documented – not only assuring customers that the product they are after is available and ready for collection at their convenience – and often same day — but offering retailers increased in-store footfall and the opportunity for upselling once that customer is in-store to collect their goods.

But, whilst the process is heaven for the consumer for the retailer it can be a nightmare if the business doesn’t have the right systems and processes in place to deal with the operational complexities of click and collect.

In the Sanderson Retail Insights survey 2015 only 4% marked their industry as 9 or 10 out of 10 for tackling the logistical challenges involved in providing a range of delivery services very well.

In the Barclays report referenced earlier more than 44% of retailers said that they felt that click and collect services can cause capacity issues in-store. Indeed, an accurate and real-time view of stock on a store by store basis is essential to avoid central stock being delivered to stores which can already fulfil orders from their own stock.

Once stock has been allocated comes the nitty gritty of actually getting the order off shelf or out of the warehouse to the relevant collection point in-store. Since the click and collect process is supposed to be one of an enhanced in-store experience this should ideally be somewhere prominent from which it is easy to dedicate time and space to click and collect customers. Forcing them to join a queue of normal customers is not a convenient option. But engagement with store staff is also important since they have been traditionally incentivised on in-store sales targets but those have failed to embrace the increasing impact of click and collect. Whilst this is changing, for some the mind-set still needs to shift.

The IMRG survey also showed that mobile shoppers were primary click and collect shoppers meaning that enabling customers on the move to click and collect through a seamless experience is one of the most important challenges to meet.

It also highlighted that there are still many UK retailers yet to embrace the trend. It’s time to wake up and take action and the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey 2015 is a great place to start.

Takeaways:

  • Click and collect is here to stay and growing fast
  • Retailers wanting to improve the customer experience have to strongly consider offering click and collect as a delivery option
  • Complexities surrounding logistics and stock visibility mean that systems are key
  • Enabling click and collect via mobile is crucial – and set to become even more so – since this is the fastest growing shopping channel

Discover more about what the future holds for retailers, by reading: ‘Retail Insights Survey 2015 – Essential Understandings

This post first appeared on the Sanderson blog.