How A Seamless Click And Collect Journey Can Bring Success For Retailers

As people’s lives become increasingly busy and stressful, everyone searches for the most convenient solution to any situation. For example, Click and Collect is now the third most popular digital service in the UK, with shoppers embracing the flexibility the service offers, and retailers who are always looking to ease and simplify a customer’s purchasing journey.

With Click and Collect services expanding, deliveries direct to a consumer’s address are set to decrease from 72.3 per cent to just over 64 per cent of total physical deliveries by 2018, whilst Click and Collect volumes are anticipated to rise from 26.1 per cent to just under 35 per cent.

Why Click and Collect solves problems

Initially, online shopping and home delivery were seen as the future of the retail industry; however, expectations on ease and convenience have halted home delivery, with almost a third of British online shoppers having problems with the delivery of their orders in the lead-up to Christmas in 2014. The unpredictability and inconvenience which can sometimes occur with home deliveries has led consumers to look for more convenient and flexible ways to receive their purchases. Shoppers can sit at home all day waiting for a delivery, with most retailers providing a smaller time frame within the day of delivery. But if shoppers are in full time work and purchases cannot be delivered to their place of work, it can be difficult trying to organise or re-organise a delivery.

Here are the most important factors for consumers when choosing a delivery option, according to a Barclay’s The Last Mile report:

  • Cost
  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Reputation
  • Service

The same Barclays report has revealed just under 70 per cent of consumers believe that couriers should deliver on a Sunday, and almost 45 per cent would order online if delivery services were improved. To cope with the new demands from consumers wanting instant delivery and outcomes, retailers need to provide alternative suggestions and solutions to shoppers.

Click and Collect services are an example of this, and it is easy to see why they are continuing to increase. The service empowers the customer to choose exactly which store to deliver the purchases to and when they can collect it. More than half of British shoppers are now picking up online orders in-store, up from 45 per cent in the last six months, and it is clear to see the direction which retailers need to take.

Creating a seamless journey for consumers by utilising Click and Collect services will provide retailers with the opportunity to create a positive online and in-store experience for customers. Retailers can utilise the opportunity for shoppers to ‘impulse buy’ when they are in store collecting their purchase, and provide shoppers with live data of other options online. 24 per cent of retailers view Click and Collect as an area which can provide growth opportunities, with just over 16 per cent of logistics companies showing interest in developing its integration with this Click and Collect service.

In the lead up to Christmas in 2014, retailers were prepared for a £1.15 billion boost from Click and Collect impulse purchases in-store according to Retail Week. With Click and Collect completely overtaking home delivery at John Lewis, 56 per cent of online shoppers who chose its in-store collection during the 2014 Christmas period could have also bought an impulse buy whilst in-store.

The seamless journey

For a retailer to provide a successful Click and Collect service to its customers, it must create a seamless omni-channel journey. This can be achieved by using the omni-channel approach to sales, combining the online shopping experience with the physical collection of the purchase in-store. Retailers must ensure this experience, from start to finish, is enjoyable and hassle-free for shoppers.

Debenhams experienced the repercussions of not strengthening its omni-channels after reporting a fall of 24.5 per cent in its pre-tax profit to £85.2 million for the half year to 1st March 2014. By the following month, Debenhams had already announced plans to increase its investment in automated systems in its distribution centres to support developments in its omni-channel offering.

By increasing automation, Debenhams wanted to reduce the per unit cost of fulfilling online orders, particularly around its Click and Collect offering. Click and Collect accounted for about 24 per cent of the retailer’s online orders during the period, compared to seven per cent of orders in the same period in 2013. Its distribution costs for the period was £54.4 million.

Having an omni-channel approach to sales also includes retailers integrating its live stocktaking system with the e-commerce platform. This way, if a customer cannot find their size of clothing in store, it is essential for the customer to see live data of other options online. This can be seen with Argos who have successfully integrated the two platforms to provide this service to customers.

Research by eBay estimated the 2014 Christmas’ omni-channel services were the driving force behind in-store footfall. This is reflected in the ONS Retail Sales report for January 2015 which showed online weekly spending rose to £753.3m, as ecommerce grew 12 per cent. This means that online retailers must pull out all the stops to increase their online delivery service.

For example, Argos is quite advanced in this area. It knows where all its stock is, whether it is in the distribution centre or in one of its over 700 stores, and is now offering same day delivery and faster in-store collection with Fast Track. You can now buy online and get your order delivered the same day for £3.95, seven days a week, with Fast Track Delivery or buy online and collect from the Argos dedicated Fast Track counters in-store, in as little as 60 seconds.

Argos’ take on Click and Collect (source: www.argos.co.uk)

The future

Online shopping was initially feared by retailers as the death of the high street. But instead of fearing online shopping, retailers need to embrace the opportunities it can bring. Click and Collect services are an example of this, as the service will aid the high street retailer by reducing congestion in store, increasing the sale of ‘impulse buys’ from customers collecting their purchase, and reducing the cost and pressure of deliveries.

The Click and Collect scheme is increasing with research stating 38.2 per cent are expecting it to grow more in terms of usage than any other delivery option. 22.6 per cent anticipate third-party Click and Collect services will increase the most, and just over 17 per cent expect to see a rise in the use of lockers and collection points.

If retailers utilise the omni-channel approach to its Click and Collect services and are able to create a seamless journey from start to finish it will result in a successful shopping experience for customers, and will build trust between the consumer and retailer.

About Black Pepper Software

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Black Pepper Software has an excellent reputation for developing high quality software solutions. We have produced first class results across a wide variety of industries, including retail, travel, education, finance, automotive, commodity trading and logistics. We work with both SMEs and Blue Chip organisations and pride ourselves on being able to deliver tailored solutions and consultancy on time and within budget.

What we all want to do at Black Pepper is transform custom software development into a business discipline. See, we’re multilingual here – not only do we speak geek (we’re fluent in Javascript, Java, C# and Scala, though we tend to favour Java for its stability), we also speak business. Moreover, we understand business.

This proves invaluable for our clients, as they can rest assured we will find the best way to use software to reach their business objectives - every time. Our custom software has been used to generate new revenue streams, improve efficiency, grow client satisfaction, cut costs or increase turnover. Our clients, be they Blue Chip organisations, medium-sized companies or fresh out of the oven start-ups, have not only confirmed it, but come back with new projects.

We are leaders in agile development practices. Our use of agile methodologies provides clients with excellent communication, close collaboration, rapid response, ongoing flexibility, delivery of early business value and high quality results.

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