Earlier in July 2015, the BBC asked a pointed question - Is Click-and-Collect ‘cannibalising’ retailers?, even though the same article quoted IMRG estimate of 20% annual growth rate across all retailers for “Click and Collect” (C&C). This indicates, whatever the case is, C&C is here to stay. Retailers who had accounted a 4% of their sale as C&C in 2010 saw a jump to 17.7% in 2014 according to the article.
What would one expect later in 2016? UK’s largest independent store based delivery and returns service called “CollectPlus”, announced their biggest ever click and collect Christmas in December 2015 with the business growing 27% YoY for the October to December 2015 period. The Marketing magazine earlier this month (February 2016) reported C&C as the most loved retail technology with 1 in 5 shoppers saying it has changed the way they shop - ranking it higher than the use of smartphones for shopping.
A lot of experience has been gathered in this area of retail business in the past few years. Here are some ingredients of successful C&C operation and positive customer experience.
Start with a carefully selected assortment. In addition, the product dimensions with packaging need to be suitable quicker picking, packing and despatch. Fragile and expensive products could be included considering the risk involved. Legal regulations for distribution like age restricted products should not be considered for C&C. Article Master in your retail software should be equipped to store such information and mark for eligibility.
Having a large store outlet network is definitely an advantage in offering shorter travel distances to customers for pick up. For areas that do not have store, manned or un-manned pickup points can be explored. The IT application for order capture and fulfilment needs to be updated with pick up location addresses for easy customer selection and delivery convenience.
Distribution depots and transport network are key to offer services like Next day/Named day delivery, free or low cost delivery and late customer ordering hours. A whopping 62% of customers have responded that they would use C&C for free delivery option according to the IMRG report.
IT applications and infrastructure are put to a real test to achieve an availability check, order tracking and timely communication for booking and tracking the progress of order fulfilment. This is key factor to a positive customer experience by avoiding failed pickup visits and reducing calls to customer care numbers.
Employ payment methods that support the correct financial reporting as the sale is realized only after customer collection. An upfront payment and settlement at the point of order can be employed or the payment method where settlement with payment service provider is triggered after customer collection.
At the time of parcel collection, fraud checking is an essential part to make sure any later enquiries coming from customers can be answered with proof.
Like it or not, there will be forgetful or very busy customers, keep a provision for handling uncollected parcels in terms of space and records, such that for parcels uncollected for x number of days, refund process can be initiated
Any C&C solution is incomplete without defining a competent cancellation, returns and refund process. Returns is a stress to logistics, operations and finance due to cost of return and cross charging requirements. Ensure all possible return and refund scenarios are covered during the design phase of solution with representation from finance.
Each of the above factors need to be weighed against retailers own scenarios, the right mix with appropriate importance against them is recommended for a successful implementation and maintenance.