Click & Collect

‘Click and Collect’ simply means your customer buys an item online from your e-shop but collects it in person from your physical shop.

At first hearing it sounds counter-intuitive, why would anyone bother to buy online if they were going to go to the shop anyway?

Well, the key is ‘control’. We like being in control, and waiting in all day for a delivery that never comes is an experience that too many of us have had with our online purchases, and let’s not mention ‘hidden’ premium rate delivery charges that could easily double the cost of an online purchase.

With ‘Click and Collect’ there’s no high delivery charge, no losing a day waiting in for a parcel, the customer is in control and can pick up the item at their own convenience, safe in the knowledge that the item will be there in the store waiting for them when they arrive. For the retailer, the increase in customer footfall into their shop inevitably leads to more browsing and more opportunity for additional sales.

So it’s a win-win for all involved, and the figures seems to back this up. Argos led the way in the UK, starting it’s click and collect service almost 10 years ago. Today about half of it’s £4bn sales are multi-channel. Other high street giants with their own systems include Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Boots, Halfords, Homebase, Asos, Very, House of Fraser, and Coast. Even online retailers like eBay and Amazon have adopted click and collect services to meet customer demand.

Of course, in reality it’s not all plain sailing, some problems can be tricky to overcome. How to handle the pick up in the store can be a problem if space or staff are limited. Obviously the retailer will want the customer to spend as much time in the store as possible to improve the chance of additional impulse purchases, but the customer is choosing click and collect for the convenience so might not be happy if the pick up takes too long.

Another key problem is that customers might not collect their purchase promptly, meaning their items can sit around in the stock-room for some time, taking up space and potentially reducing cash-flow. A sensible collection policy has to be adopted to resolve this.

Good stock control is essential, of course. Where stock is handled in a single store it’s not too much of a problem, but when stock is spread across 2 or 3 different shops good control is essential to ensure not only that the customer’s purchase is in store when they arrive to pick up, but also that staff of the individual shops work together as a team and realise that click and collect benefits them all if they pull together. The increased use of smart phones for online purchases means that retailers will probably have to turn around click and collect purchases much more quickly in the future, which itself could lead to further problems, but the increase in footfall is too good to miss.

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