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How delivery and collection are changing the way we shop: studies

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In recent days the evidence has pointed towards a significant shift in shoppers moving away from the high street and towards online shopping this Christmas. But how are these digital shoppers now taking delivery of their goods? Studies out this week have some early answers to that question.

At Christmas it seems that the emphasis was on getting goods as quickly as possible. More people tried out click and collect services, according to figures out this week, while same-day delivery also seems to have proved popular.

Research from ICM Unlimited suggests that same-day delivery is rising in popularity. Argos , whose FastTrack service is pictured, and Amazon are among the Elite retailers in the IRUK Top500 that offered the service over Christmas.

ICM questioned 2,020 UK adults between December 21 and 23, and found that 11% had used same-day shopping during that month – and of them, 84% were satisfied with the service they received. Three-quarters said their parcel had arrived on time, 16% said it was later than expected, and 3% said they didn’t receive it at all.

Overall, however, sentiment was positive. One shopper told researchers: “My seventh grandchild was born last Saturday. I could not face going to the shops, but I needed to get her a present. It was easy to buy it online, and for not much extra cost to have it delivered straightaway, so when I went to see her on Sunday I had the present.”

Of all of those questioned, 32% said they would be likely to use a same-day delivery service in the future, while 33% would be more likely to shop with a retailer that offered this service – rising to 74% of those who did use the service in December. A quarter (26%) said that although they had not yet used a same-day delivery service, they would be likely to do so in future.

Kate Bewick, associate director at ICM Unlimited, says there could be hope in the fast delivery option for retailers disappointed by their Christmas trading figures.

“Retailers will be delighted to see what we consider to be one of the most interesting findings of this research – that many of the people who used same delivery over Christmas 2015 are now more likely to select it in the future,” she said. “Perhaps most illuminating is that 83% of the people who used same-day delivery in December are likely to use it again in future. These figures give retailers a clear indication of the advantage delivery can offer in the very competitive market they operate in – particularly in the light of some of the disappointing Christmas trading figures that have already been have released.”

Meanwhile, figures from Doddle suggest that the profile of parcel collection rose over Christmas. Doddle’s click and collect volumes peaked on December 21, just over two weeks after the parcel market did so. The company, which specialises in carrier and retail-agnostic parcel collection from locations including railway stations, says that over the fourth quarter of 2015, the growth of its click and collect service tracked 241% higher than the wider parcel market over the period, as measured by the MetaPack peak Profile Index. One parcel was collected from a Doddle store every four seconds.

“As more convenient choices become available, customers are choosing the most convenient options available to them,” said chief executive Tim Robinson. “We believe the later peak in our own volumes is the result of consumers’ growing trust in click and collect services to mitigate the risk of missed home deliveries.

“If consumers believe click and collect to be a more reliable delivery option, they will continue to shop until the last minute with greater confidence their order will be delivered the first time and therefore, on time.”

The State of Retail 2016 report, from retail marketers Live & Breathe, adds to the discussion. It questioned 1,000 UK consumers and found 18% said click and collect services changed the way they shopped last year. At the same time 50% said that online shopping was becoming more convenient and 45% that it was delivering better value. Some 43% said they would shop more online if they could use one-hour delivery, while 13% would do so for drone delivery.

“People want more convenience and less hassle, which is why online is growing,” said Viv Craske, head of innovation & digital at Live & Breathe. “From the high street, shoppers want a great in-store experience and currently this isn’t being delivered.” She says that improving the in-store experience would go a long way to raising the store experience in the eyes of shoppers.

Craske concludes: “Click & Collect offers one way for the high street to reclaim some lost ground, because it’s clearly a service that’s very much in demand. However, retailers need to understand that shoppers expect a seamless experience that crosses every channel – and their in-store offering and service has to match and support what people get on digital or mobile.

“There is also the question of what people want versus what is realistic to deliver. Shoppers want Click & Collect, they also want same-day delivery and there’s a hunger for that service to be free, but are they prepared to pay more for their goods and what impact would that have on the whole supply chain? These are questions retailers will have to face in 2016.”

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