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Opinion: Retailers’ Area 51- Click and collect


Like the infamous Area 51 the concept of Click & Collect is also one often shrouded in mystery, says Tim Robinson, CEO of Doddle. So how can retailers better understand and manage it more clearly? Robinson shares the lessons he’s learnt below.
Tim RobinsonMuch like the United States Air Force facility in Nevada, click and collect in store is often an operational area shrouded in mystery. It’s often not clear who ultimately owns it, but given it touches on ecommerce, logistics and the physical retail estate, whose alien is it anyway?

We’ve found ourselves asking retailers this question many times over and the answer is different for every one of them. The one thing that is becoming apparent is that click and collect impacts sales, in a positive way, so making it a department in its own right may not be as silly as it first sounds.

As a fulfilment option, it is the only one that increases footfall, generates additional purchases, reduces fulfilment costs and eliminates failed deliveries.

For retailers such as New Look, as many as 25% of click and collect customers go on to make additional purchases instore. Research from L2, a leading US industry analyst, also indicates department stores offering in-store click and collect boost sales by 12%, and up to 18% if they also offer returns of online shopping in-store.

It doesn’t just apply to the in-store click and collect. We’ve found the customers of our retail partners who use Doddle have an 11% higher average basket value, with a 10% higher average basket size. Their frequency of purchase is also three times higher with Doddle than traditional delivery methods. Those customers may not be buying from your store today, but they are spending more and shopping more frequently.

So how can retailers maximise this opportunity?

  1. Incentivise customers to use click and collect. Make it a prominent and easy to choose fulfilment option and ensure the price point is attractive relative to other delivery options.
  2. When customers arrive in store – be ready for them. Serve them quickly, so that they can spend the rest of their time browsing and making those golden additional purchases.
  3. Personalise the service as much as possible. Enable store colleagues to see what they’re handing over to the customer so they can actively cross-sell and tailor the service to each customer. Click and collect is a second bite at the cherry to cross-sell and upsell on every ecommerce order.
  4. Be clear about returns options. Use the interaction to invite them back into store, even if it is to return the item. For instance, you’re welcome to try your purchase on in our change rooms now and return it straight away if it’s not right, or if you’d prefer to try it on at home you’ll find our list of returns locations here. Giving customers information about what they may want to do after receiving their order enhances the in-store experience and increases their likelihood of returning and buying more.
  5. Has my parcel arrived? Where is it? Where do I collect it? What do I need to collect it? Proactively communicating the answers to these questions clearly and frequently actually stimulates a dopamine response in consumers. The reason for this is a text message saying your parcel is now in store or is on its way signals a reward is coming, in this case, their order. Dopamine is the same chemical released in response to sex, drugs and rock & roll, and frequent communication about the impending arrival of an order, elicits a similarly positive response from customers.

So why do consumers choose click and collect? Certainty? Convenience? Cost? Time and again consumer research shows cost and convenience drive their decision to use click and collect. FREE delivery via click and collect

Free delivery via click and collect motivates consumers. For many consumers, I suspect, there’s also a perception click and collect will be quick, in and out.

As click and collect volumes continue to grow and we come into the busiest time of the year, instore services risk losing some of the convenience appeal.

There are three things that frequently challenge the consumer experience in an in-store click and collect environment:

  1. The speedy ascension of click and collect means in many cases it has bypassed the well-considered and watchful eye of store design. Often shoved into an out of the way and previously under-utilised corner of the store. It’s neither convenient nor welcoming.
  2. While a thoroughly British tradition, they contribute nothing in terms of customer experience. Despite this, the click and collect section of a retail store is often plagued by them. If we know customers spend more money when they come in store to collect their purchase, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to spend as much time as possible viewing other items? Instead they are glued to the queue, unable to wander lest they lose their place.
  3. The lonely wait. Even if a customer manages to get to the front of the click and collect queue, if the technology or back-of-house processes are unfit for purpose, they may still be in for a long wait. Often this is down to storing orders alphabetically, which can be time consuming to sort through and is less efficient for organising the available space.

There is some food for thought in how retailers will evolve their click and collect options to better serve customers in future. If I can offer anything from what we’ve learnt in the last two years building our own in-store click and collect experience and studying retailer offerings, it would be that click and collect requires investment, but it’s not without significant upside.

Click and collect is a new sales channel for retailers. It might seem alien to those grappling with how to manage it now, but putting it under the spotlight will drive better customer experiences and in turn greater sales in the not too distant future.

Image credits: Doddle

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