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Editorial: Why the click and collect experience needs to improve


The news in the past week that John Lewis and Clipper Logistics have formed a joint venture company to deliver click and collect services shows the increasing reliance of retailers on click and collect, as well as the idea that retailers and their partners can do more to improve the service.
The duo have been working together for some time to improve the services they offer with both John Lewis and other retailers to benefit from the service improvements.

The fact that click and collect is not without its challenges is further highlighted in this week’s opinion column, from Tim Robinson, CEO of Doddle. His company is also working to improve the click and collect experience for customers and retailers alike and in his piece he provides retailers with a number of helpful tips on how they can maximise the opportunity offered by click and collect.

Being ready for click and collect customers and serving them quickly may sound like obvious advice but too often customers are faced with click and collect desks void of staff or with queues so long they might as well have just shopped instore in the first place – not a satisfactory experience!

Consumer demands

This year’s MetaPack 2016 State of Ecommerce Delivery consumer research report, released in the last week showed exactly what consumers are thinking when it comes to the delivery experience. The UK proved to have the highest volume of customers that want to collect goods instore, when compared to the other markets surveyed, at 68%.

The study also provided a good illustration of customer expectations around peak sales periods – obviously particularly timely given the fact that Black Friday will be upon us soon enough. More than half (53%) of UK consumers said that they did not have different expectations or behaviour when it comes to peak periods and 51% said that they would not pay more in order to guarantee next day delivery or store pick up during peak.

Black Friday debate continues

Whilst consumers may not want to pay more to ensure peak delivery expectations are met it seems neither do retailers. Research from Royal Mail around Black Friday suggests that only around one in five retailers are planning to take part in the annual sales event and less than one in five plan to offer free shipping on online purchases during the event.

Retailers’ willingness (or not) to absorb delivery costs during peak is not too surprising given the current state of the logistics industry. The latest UK Logistics Confidence Index from Barclays and Moore Stephens suggests that the industry is continuing to struggle to recruit drivers and skilled workers in the logistics sector – both factors that could impact the delivery prices that retailers pay and the service their customers receive.

Focus on customer service

Another focus on customer service at peak comes from ArrowXL, who have created a new in-house contact centre to deal with customer queries and booking and which is also extending the venture into a commercial booking operation for retail clients.

When it comes to home delivery for food the experience is especially important. Customers expect goods to arrive in the condition they would have picked them in themselves. Grocery giant Asda was forced to admit that its standards had fallen short this week after a Watchdog investigation highlighted unsanitary conditions with the delivery crates it uses to deliver food to customers at home.

The retailer took prompt action – instigating a deep clean of all its delivery vehicles and crates and revised training for its staff but it’s a stark reminder that it’s the whole delivery experience that counts – and it’s not just about a friendly and helpful delivery driver but also how goods are physically received.

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Image credit: Fotolia

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