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The increasing importance of shops to online retailing

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The old thinking said that online retailing would spell the death of the high street, and the retail store. But increasingly the idea is gaining sway that stores are the future of online retailing.

While it’s convenient to buy online, it’s not always always convenient to collect or take delivery online. That’s set to change, however, as more retailers use local convenience stores as collection points.

A further step towards that came this week as John Lewis launched trials of its convenient collections. It’s teamed up with CollectPlus to enable customers to pick up their online purchases from their local corner shop or petrol station. Initially, it’s trialling the service in the South West, in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, where the John Lewis CollectPlus service will be available at 1,500 locations at a cost of £3.

Earlier this year, John Lewis launched a returns service with CollectPlus, and this develops that service.

Sarah Ince, business development manager at John Lewis, said: “Click and collect services remain an area of huge growth for John Lewis and we’re delighted to offer this option to our customers alongside the collection service available in our own shops. The CollectPlus network provides us with a truly national reach and means that customers who may not necessarily live close to one of our shops can still collect their online order at their convenience.”

Neil Ashworth, CEO of CollectPlus, said: “This is a great example of how CollectPlus is the perfect partner for retailers. We are trialling the service in these four regions of the UK to offer John Lewis new customer touch-points, in areas where residents are in need of greater choice and convenience. The partnership with John Lewis so far has proven to be a great success and we’re very excited to be working with them to help to successfully deliver to more online shoppers around the UK.”

What this means to shoppers beyond the reach of a John Lewis or Waitrose was spelt out by Alan Troy, manager of the SPAR store in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. He said: “Our opening hours and the parking available outside make us very convenient for customers and, as a result, the CollectPlus service has been extremely popular. I’m now telling all our customers that they can choose to have online John Lewis purchases delivered to the store for collection at a time that suits them, whether it’s when buying their milk and newspapers in the morning or picking up dinner in the evening.”


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