Click-and-collect, the process of enabling shoppers to purchase items online and pick them up in a physical store, seems simple enough. In fact, when compared to other tech innovations that have transformed the online retail industry in recent years such as AI-powered chatbots or real-time customer journey analytics, click-and-collect feels almost rudimentary. However, offering the ability to instantly and seamlessly merge e-commerce with physical retail stores, does bring a bit of chaos if the strategy is not thought through fully from the outset.
Using Click-and-Collect to Capture More Sales During the Holidays
Click-and-collect enables retail brands to deliver truly omnichannel convenience, both online and in-store. More specifically, this option offers retailers a clear way to cut down on complex and costly logistical processes needed to deliver products – especially those that need to be delivered during a certain window of time, such as the holidays. With shipping prices remaining one of the top reasons why consumers abandon their shopping carts, delivery time is critical for both customers and brands. Consumers (especially last-minute shoppers) don’t want to be limited by time or location to receive their products. And paying shipping fees to have to wait several days before receiving a product can be disappointing in the age of Amazon, where consumers have become conditioned to expect fast, free shipping options from all retailers.
Holiday shoppers want the ease of online ordering combined with the flexibility and instant gratification of walking into a nearby store where they can easily pick up their items. By driving consumers into stores, click-and-collect also provides retailers additional opportunities to generate new sales. These opportunities can be invaluable, particularly given consumers’ propensity to buy additional products once they are in the store. In fact, research by the International Council of Shopping Centres shows two in three consumers – and three in four millennials – make an additional purchase while at a store picking up their original order.
Optimization Best Practices
The full business benefits of click-and-collect go beyond the immediate wins of reducing costs and increasing revenue. To realize the feature’s full potential, retailers must bring their customer experiences full-circle and ensure they’re seamless and completely connected from online to offline. Below are four key best practices to consider when creating an optimal click-and-collect experience in advance of the holiday season:
1. Determine all collection points.
Carefully planning, designing and implementing a tailored click-and-collect experience that accurately reflects all offline collection points is critical. Start by auditing your existing network of local stores and trade suppliers for all inventory, distribution and collection points, and then build these options into a store locator that accurately displays product availability and location hours. Also, don’t be afraid to leverage non-conventional collection options, such as post offices or convenience stores, as this can provide further convenience to your customers.
2. Confirm the payment options.
To ensure an optimal customer experience, it’s important to determine the right payment process for click-and-collect orders. For instance, if you need to ship a particular product to a collection point, have customers pay online before arriving to pick up the item in-store. Alternatively, if the item is already available in store, consider giving customers the option to reserve it to speed up your checkout process. This also allows customers to more easily make additional purchases when they arrive in-store, as they won’t have to conduct a separate transaction.
3. Provide mobile search.
The success of click-and-collect processes depends on customers being able to easily find product availability within brick-and-mortar locations and determine the most convenient pick-up location for the item they’re viewing online. Optimize click-and-collect mobile search capabilities and incorporate push notifications to alert customers based on their proximity to local stores. Also, consider incorporating a real-time stock checker to provide added convenience for roaming mobile customers.
4. Communicate updates.
Keeping customers informed and up to date on their click-and-collect order is paramount. In fact, it’s usually better to err on the side of communicating too much post-sale rather than too little – especially during peak seasons. If you’re shipping an item from a warehouse or distribution center to a collection point, be sure to update your customers on the status and ETA of their order via email, push notifications and/or SMS. To optimize the customer experience even further, remind customers to bring their ID, reference number, credit card or any other piece of identification needed to verify themselves when they pick up their product.
Buying online and picking up purchases in store is fast becoming a must-have capability for consumers, and it’s a critical requirement for delivering omnichannel experiences to customers across all channels. Take the time to thoroughly prepare your click-and-collect experience for the holidays and beyond by mapping out all possible collection points, determining appropriate payment options, providing extensive search capabilities and integrating continual updates. In doing so, retailers can provide the experience consumers seek and drive business growth by drastically streamlining the buying process.
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