IRX 2016 From click and collect to Black Friday and mobile: four themes that resonated
Retailers from a variety of sectors outlined their ideas of multichannel retailing, present and future, at IRX 2016. Here are four that resonated.
From pureplay to multichannel
Ocado’s launch of an ecommerce business with Marie Claire has been in the pipeline for some time. At IRX 2016, Richard Locke, head of general merchandising and analytics at Ocado, said its first shop would be launched through the partnership some time this year.
Shoppers buying the premium beauty products sold through the partnership will be able to order them for delivery alongside their Ocado grocery order – but they will also be able to buy them from the Marie Claire shop. “The beauty side we’re launching does come with a store attached to it,” he said. “A lot of the premium brands are only willing for us to launch with them if we open a store as well.”
Deliveries, says Locke, will be in keeping with the luxury brands, such as MAC and Bobbi Brown, that the retailer will be selling. “When the package arrives it won’t be handed over by a courier: there’ll be ribbons and scent – a bit more of a fanfare about it. Controlling the supply chain allows us to add in some unique customer experiences.”
Click and collect – set to rise or fall?
“Click and collect is solving a problem of delivering to someone when they’re not in – the real solution is to deliver where they are, when they are,” said Ocado’s Richard Locke. “We’re trialling underground stations, following some well-trodden paths that commuters do. “Instead of going out of their way to pick up their shopping can we waylay them on their way home, or get them at their house when they’re ready? Click and collect will hopefully see a decline – I’d like to see that – I’d like to see us getting things to people when they want them. I’d like to see people being more demanding, saying you come here when I want you to, and more fussy.”
Speaking in a panel discussion on last-mile delivery, Dave Crellin, head of online operations development at Sainsbury’s , was measured. “Click and collect is a niche,” he said. “It serves some customer missions, some products but not all. The idea of a really nice, tight delivery slot for a product that suits you, logically must trump collection in a large number of places. Click and collect has a part to play, probably more in non-food than food, but also food. There are various stats rolling around on how fast click and collect will grow – it’s entirely predicated on the quality of the experience.”
Speaking in the same panel, Lana Jackson, head of customer proposition and delivery at New Look , said click and collect accounted for about 35% of New Look sales – and “the higher the age group, the more likely they are to use click and collect”. And the younger customers? “We massively overindex on home delivery and premium home delivery for younger customers such as students.” Incidentally, New Look click and collect basket sizes are “significantly lower” than for home delivery. “That says to me that customers are selecting that for free delivery at a lower threshold rather than for convenience,” said Jackson.
How shoppers behaved on Black Friday
Customers held out to buy till Black Friday, said Schuh’s deputy head of ecommerce Stuart Macmillan. “Leading up to Black Friday, we saw a peak in traffic but conversion went way down. People were adding things to their basket, then coming back and refreshing after midnight on Black Friday to get it quickly – especially where product was really scarce.”
Sarah McVittie, founder of Dressipi , said: “We asked our retail partners, and some that had done tests saw that impulse purchasing per customer was up.” She said it was important to understand the economics of the event – from wishlist buying to returns – in order to make the day a profitable one.
Customers accepted the decision to dial back the Black Friday delivery promise in 2015, said Walter Blackwood, previously of Mothercare, speaking in a last mile delivery panel. Rather than promising unlimited next-day delivery, many made it clear that the number of slots were limited. Indeed, Schuh used gamification around that fact, said its deputy head of ecommerce Stuart Macmillan. “We introduced scarcity – we said we have a limited number of [next-day delivery slots], and counted down as the slots went.” Did it work? “It was a busy day and it didn’t hurt. But we didn’t split test it.”
“In future,” says Blackwood, “there can be a two-stream approach, with some element of premium or express as well as waiting longer.”
“I don’t think anyone should be launching a website in 2016 that isn’t responsive,” said Sarah Stagg, director of digital product at House of Fraser in her session. Why? Because it best optimises the user experience. Smartphones, she said, are driving beyond personalisation to contextualisation. “Phones know the time, the weather and can drive contextually relevant content, whether products, adverts or relevant discounts,” she said. “We think mobile allows you to go a step beyond personalisation to contextualisation.” And while mobile is increasing convenience, it is also driving a new generation of impatient shoppers. “People won’t wait for anything,” she said. “They have high expectations and people have to meet them.”
Mobile lends itself to certain shopping tasks, suggests Stuart Macmillan of Schuh. Schuh’s mobile-wielding customers, he said in his presentation, Spinning Mobile into Gold, are twice as likely to use the store locator function as desktop users, while click and collect use is more prevalent among mobile users – and 89% of its mobile customers have never shopped with the retailer in any other way. That’s why, he said: “we have to get mobile right.”