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Click and Collect – how social restrictions are accelerating changes to shopping habits

As access to physical retail has become increasingly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, customers are turning to online shopping. Australian online retail spending grew by 95% year-on-year in April, with more than 5.2 million households shopped online during the month. A report from AusPost projected that percentage of online retail sales will increase to 15% by the end of 2020, compared with the 2019 figure of 10%. As part of this increased demand, retailers are responding by providing convenient fulfilment options like click-and-collect to help improve convenience for shoppers.

Retail Doctor Group Insights Division’s research into consumer behaviour report that 1 in 3 Australian consumers have used click and collect in the last 12 months with 20% having used it recently in the last month, and internationally, Adobe Analytics report that US click and collect orders surged by 208% between 1st April and 20th April this year, when compared to 2019 levels. This is a trend we are seeing with customers relying more and more on digital retail channels to access the products they want, so as a retailer you need to adapt and provide this type of functionality to stay competitive.


What is Click and Collect?

Click and collect is a delivery system whereby a shopper can purchase products online and then pick up those items from a selected physical store or location operated by the merchant. The in-store staff will receive the click and collect order and prepare the items, so they are ready for the customer to pick-up.

To facilitate a good click and collect experience you need to connect the online with the offline in a seamless way to make sure information about the order and customer are accurate and received in a timely manner for the in-store staff to process. This also relies on good systems to be in place to track inventory across all the channels and locations so that click and collect orders managed by your eCommerce platform can be correctly fulfilled from the pick-up location selected through the point-of-sale system.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all items are appropriate for click and collect. Bulkier items such as furniture and large appliances will not likely be picked up from a location by a customer, rather shoppers would rely more on delivery options for these types of larger goods.

Understanding the benefits of click and collect?

Customers who use click and collect get to take control of when they pick up their order. This will help customers that find it hard to commit to being at the delivery address within specific times to receive the order.

By offering flexible shipping options like click and collect, you can minimize the need for returns and exchanges by letting a customer confirm things like sizing, colour, materials and more before walking out of the store. You also get the added benefit of being able to upsell when a customer comes to pick up their order through your in-store sales staff.

With retail stores having to apply stricter social distancing practices and policies - particularly in cities like Melbourne - shoppers can opt to click and collect orders meaning less time spent browsing in store, making it easier for shop staff to manage the flow of people and reducing capacity issues.

Lastly, this system also removes the risk of damage during shipment from the equation — this means improved customer satisfaction and reducing costs related to replacing or refunding damaged products.

5 practical steps to consider when implementing click and collect:

  1. Clearly understand the goal and benefit to your business that you want to measure.

  2. Decide on what the experience should look like for the customer from the point they browse your website to make the order to when they pick it up in-store. It could include things like accurate information displayed on your product pages; clear instructions during checkout; SMS notifications to let the customer know when a pick-up is ready, and a convenient in-store pick-up experience.

  3. Understand the capabilities of your current business systems for managing Point of Sale, eCommerce, and Inventory to ensure they can work harmoniously to facilitate your click and collect process.

  4. Plan how you will promote this feature to customers in-store and online.

  5. Plan how you will prepare staff effectively to understand the benefits of them facilitating click and collect orders and make sure it does not conflict with any of their existing KPIs.


What could the future of click and collect look like in a post-pandemic world?

As social distancing restrictions begin to loosen, consumers will come out of the pandemic period with access to a broader array of choices when it comes to how they interact with retailers. They will be familiar with delivery options like click and collect, and it is unlikely they will want to give these options up.

Consumers are still likely to go back to shopping in physical stores to try high-touch items like clothing or even enjoy browsing a department store like the good old days. But we should all expect that there will be a subset of consumers post-pandemic who will prefer shopping online or using click and collect to minimise their time in physical stores. Store models like Nordstrom Local, which is the department store’s inventory-free online pick-up and service hub, is an indication of things to come and where retail is evolving.

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