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Interview: Debenhams’ Jay Brown on the role of click and collect


Click and collect is increasingly important for all retailers. As part of a wider feature looking at how to prepare click and collect for peak we spoke to Jay Brown, multichannel services lead, to find out how important click and collect is for Debenhams.
ED: How is click and collect growing for your business?

JB: “Click and collect is up 10% versus last year. The mix of online orders that are click and collect is around 30% as not all of our concessions offer the service.”

ED: What are the main click and collect options you offer and why do they work well?

JB: “We offer next day click and collect to customers in the UK and mainland Scotland for orders made before 9pm which is free on orders over £20. We also offer free next day click and collect to ROI for orders placed before midday.”

ED: What is the process instore?

“Upon placing an order with Debenhams and selecting their preferred store for delivery customers are notified by email that their parcel is ready for collection. To collect their item they proceed to the Click & Collect counter in the store with their order number and proof of ID. Dedicated click and collect colleagues retrieve the customer parcel and are able to assist with any customer service queries, for example offering the customer the opportunity to try the item on in a dedicated click and collect dressing room or if unsuitable a refund for the customer all within the click and collect department of the store creating a one stop shop for the click and collect customer. Customers have 14 days to collect their parcel, after which the customer is refunded and the parcels is returned to our central warehouse.”

ED: Do you have a separate click and collect area instore?

JB: “Yes we have a specific counter for click and collect in our stores which is signposted clearly for our customers and has a stock holding facility nearby. This also has a dedicated dressing room, till point and PC to allow for a seamless customer experience for click and collect customers.”

ED: How is your click and collect process managed during normal trading?

JB: “We provide dedicated click and collect staffing throughout the trading day. At our peak times the desk is manned. At quieter times, there is a facility for the customer to page the member of staff who may be working nearby or in the click and collect stockroom.”

ED: How do you optimise your click and collect operations ahead of peak trading?

JB: “We constantly review the volumes of Click and collect parcels through our supply chain and compare them against the actual volumes that were processed last peak. We have cubic capacity figures for all of our click and collect locations and review any store that is close to capacity and work throughout the summer to increase capacity in these locations. We also use this data to ensure we have sufficient payroll to meet the needs of the customer. As we head into peak we carry out refresher training with our teams.”

ED: How do you ensure efficient click and collect at peak?

“Click and collect grows significantly at peak, with last peak being 39% of orders placed. We increase colleague numbers in this area over our peak period. Colleagues are trained to actively work the queue to ensure customers are served as efficiently as possible.”

ED: How do you overcome the challenges of click and collect – eg space, customer queues, staff being busy etc.

JB: “We have a clear strategy around dedicating space in our stores for click and collect as this is an integral part of offering our customers a seamless multichannel experience. The challenge around creating convenience for our click and collect customers that want to ‘grab and go’ whilst serving the needs of the instore shopper who has come to collect their parcel as part of a wider shopping trip is one that our colleagues excel in delivering as part of the day job.

Prioritising customers and ensuring availability of colleagues is key. Although we have dedicated click and collect colleagues, we have a number of multi-skilled colleagues in our stores as part of our ‘one team’ approach to deliver the best experience for our customers.

There are a number of non-customer facing tasks involved with managing out click and collect operation. These tasks are carried out in quieter time to minimise impact on the customer whilst maintaining colleague productivity. Customers can page a member of the click and collect team at any time and the pager system allows us to manage both customer and non-customer facing tasks effectively.”

ED: What specific initiatives have you introduced or plan to introduce to improve your click and collect offering?

JB:”We have recently introduced third party collections via Doddle. This allows customers from brands such as Amazon, Missguided, and Shoeaholics to collect their parcels from our click and collect departments. Following a successful trial we are currently rolling this out to all stores in England and Scotland. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the offering to our customers, for example offering nominated day click and collect, which we hope to launch soon.”

ED: What is best practise in the sector?

JB: “Streamlined customer experience, providing the customer with efficient, convenient service through clear customer journey from website to store, complimented with knowledgeable colleagues. Tools such as email/text updates, stock level by store, ability to pick alternative location if preferred location is out of stock enhance the customer experience and protect abandoned baskets. Some retailers are looking to future proof this by automating the entire click and collect instore experience.”

Image credit: Debenhams

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