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EDITORIAL Time for retail to get creative

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Click and Collect has always, to me at least, seemed to be something of an anachronism in the internet age. For me, and ardent online shopper, the idea of using the web to buy things then have to go to the store anyway seemed crazy. Yet, it has been a big part of the ecommerce world for many years.

Until now. With many retailers pinning their hopes on Click and Collect as a means of getting online shoppers through the door, it seems that many people are buying things and then not turning up to collect them.

According to research by Barclaycard, more than 70% of shoppers use Click and Collect twice a month on average. However, 15% of them never turn up to collect. This is a staggering £228million in merchandise that is being shipped, stored and then sent back having never left the store – costing retailers dear.

Despite this, retailers still see it as the fastest growing delivery option and one that is still in line to ‘save the high street’, but it needs to be done properly. It needs to be brought to life. Barclaycard thinks that one way is to create a more experience-led way to ‘do’ Click and Collect in store, making it something that people want to come and see.

This chimes with the general retail trope: it’s all about experience. And that is increasingly becoming the realm of technology. While Barclaycard is focussing on Click and Collect, smaller online retailers are increasingly wanting to embrace technology to drive engagement and improve sales.

In fact, according to research by payment company Klarna, SME online retailers are willing to pay for better tech to deliver the kinds of experiences that their customers want. They want to offer flexible payments and greater ecommerce capabilities, says the study, because that is what customers want.

Shoppers are increasingly demanding and need to be satisfied. The SMEs quizzed by Klarna and the shoppers and retailers investigated by Barclaycard all show that shoppers want flexibility, seamlessness and choice of how they shop. Online retailers know this and, thanks to tech, can have a more level playing field on which to deliver it. For retailers with stores, the challenge is how to make what they do fit into this new model.

Click and Collect is clearly a starting point, but Barclaycard is right in that retailers then have to build on from this to not only make the Click and Collect experience more compelling, but also the stores in which it happens equally as attractive.

This is the real challenge for retailers today: divining what these experiences are and how to deliver them. The technology is there and the willingness to invest in that same technology. What is needed now is the creativity and panache to create the things shoppers want. It’s time to get creative.

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