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Click and collect set for ‘explosive growth’ in the UK

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More than three-quarters of UK shoppers will use click and collect by 2017 as the service goes through “explosive growth”, according to a new forecast.

Planet Retail’s new report, UK Click & Collect: retail fad or future of the high street? predicts that the proportion of people using the service in this country will double to 76% from 35% at the moment over the next three years. Already the UK market is well ahead of the 13% who buy online and collect in the US, and 5% in Germany.

Researchers questioned 15,000 consumers in 10 key ecommerce markets including the UK, US, France, India and China.

“Click and collect is poised for explosive growth in the UK,” said Natalie Berg, global research director at Planet Retail. “Shoppers are already accustomed to browsing and transacting on their own terms – choice in fulfillment is the final piece to the puzzle. Within the next three years we’re expecting more than three-quarters of online shoppers to collect their own items.”

She said the cost of delivery, twinned with inconvenient delivery times, meant click and collect was increasingly attractive for shoppers and retailers. And she predicted, “ Fulfillment is poised to be the next big battleground in retail.”

Planet Retail also warned retailers were not doing enough to recognise this change in consumer behaviour. Only two-thirds of UK Top 50 retailers currently offer click and collect, it says, while only 14% offer more than one collection option.

However, those that have adopted it have seen strong results. Click and collect currently accounts for 45% of Next’s online orders, while 57% of click and collect orders through John Lewis are picked up at stores run by its grocer sister Waitrose.

“Retailers should be readying themselves for this massive shift in shopping behaviour and thinking beyond traditional collection points,” said Berg. “Train stations, schools and even shoppers’ own cars could be the collection points of the future. Retailers must be prepared to forge relationships with some unconventional partners in pursuit of better serving the customer.”

Some 4% of online shoppers also use lockers to pick up their online orders, while 12% use third-party stores.

Neil Ashworth, chief executive of CollectPlus, said the research showed just how important delivery services have become to online shoppers.

“This is the area the consumer will take control of next,” he said. “They have already taken control of the way in which they shop and, while there’s an awful lot of talk about immediacy, what customers want first and foremost is reliable delivery, rather than speed. Click and collect allows shoppers to take control. It works for them because it’s on their terms.

“The key to success for retailers will be having a distinctive proposition. Those retailers that are true to themselves, those that are the same retailer online as offline, and maintain their proposition to the customer are the ones that have opportunity to succeed. The trick is not to delay. The technology available today is far more accessible than it was just 15 to 20 years ago. You don’t need to build from scratch. Dive in, but retain your identity.”

The study also found that the cost of delivery was the main barrier putting people off shopping online, while one in four online shoppers are put off by inconvenient delivery times.

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