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GUEST COMMENT International Click and Collect: your next growth driver


Click and Collect could be just the ticket for ecommerce sales growth in new markets, reducing carbon impact, and delighting international shoppers, writes Helen Scurfield, innovation and development director of Asendia UK.

Helen Scurfield, innovation and development director, Asendia UK

Today Click and Collect is a well-established delivery method for retailers selling from websites into the domestic market. Often referred to as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), or pick up and drop off (PUDO), it’s a service many brands would love to offer shoppers in a host of other countries too, as they expand internationally. But of course, not having a store network in overseas territories – or much local knowledge – makes this difficult.

So, how do you take this hugely popular delivery option into overseas markets? If your growing audience of shoppers in Bulgaria or Spain would like to pick up their online shopping parcel from a safe place, out of home (OOH) can you offer that?

Click and Collect powers sales growth
It’s definitely worth doing. Valued at over £42 billion a year in the UK, Click and Collect shopping made up 40% of total e-commerce sales in 2022, up from 37% in 2021. Leading retailers from the major supermarkets, to John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, and the leading fashion names, say they’ve achieved sales growth, simply by offering the service. Even Primark, famously reluctant to embrace ecommerce, launched a Click & Collect pilot in 25 stores last year.

Offering Click and Collect, ecommerce brands know they can increase sales, boost customer satisfaction, reduce customer service costs, and potentially cut carbon emissions. It’s been estimated that PUDO produces 68% less carbon emissions than a traditional home delivery service because first-time delivery rates tend to be higher, and fewer journeys are needed as many products are dispatched to a single location. Shoppers love the convenience. It’s a reliable way to get hold of their parcels and return them.

Where retailers already ship internationally, it’s a service that, if adopted successfully, will very likely impress new customers and encourage repeat orders. Here are my tips on getting this set up.

Check delivery preferences country by country
It’s important to understand local delivery preferences by geography and demographic. You should position your delivery options appropriately, and research how well set up each territory is for Click and Collect. It will help to talk to your shipping partners to find out what’s possible, and where.

Most European countries are reaching critical OOH penetration levels in terms of network density. The rule of thumb is that once OOH penetration reaches 10 delivery locations per 10,000 inhabitants, the evolution of OOH adoption becomes exponential. In China and the USA, the appetite for Click and Collect is increasing rapidly. In Switzerland and France, home delivery still seems to be the preferred choice – perhaps just a cultural anomaly. Conversely, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Slovakia love OOH.

Consider what kind of OOH location is best for you and your customer
Retail companies and brands are implementing OOH models in overseas markets in three main ways:

  • Using Smart Lockers or Automated Parcel Machines (APM), which are usually accessed with an app are managed by players including Inpost (Poland), Amazon (worldwide), Lowes (US), or Decathlon (Europe).
  • Using third-party locations, where customers pick up items at a partner shop location such as 7-Eleven stores, and PayPoint, dedicated ‘partner’ stores.
  • Using ‘carrier owned’ locations, where customers pick up from in-country Post Offices or parcel shops.

Focus on the ‘easiest’ locations, where Click and Collect hubs are well established. Remember to find out the proximity of pickup location to consumers, and the density of any proposed network. Naturally, you will want to carefully consider the price point of Click and Collect delivery versus other options.

Ensure the Click and Collect solution will integrate seamlessly with your website
Then there are many practical considerations. How will locations show up on your website and in customer communications? What information will be required to contact the shopper, and how will that be managed? Perhaps most importantly, what will the shopper experience be like if things don’t work out as planned?

For all these considerations, it will help enormously if your ecommerce shipping partner already knows your target markets, and works with last-mile delivery partners and OOH parcel hubs in these regions.

In today’s competitive market, the best parcel shipping firms will be obsessed with CX, in the knowledge that first impressions count for everything in the ecommerce delivery business. Not all your overseas customers will want Click and Collect – home delivery may still be your top focus – but offering choice could make you best-in-class.

Helen Scurfield, innovation and development director of Asendia UK

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