Click and Collect was trending in ecommerce during the pandemic. But it was nothing new. The concept had been around for quite some time.
It first came under the microscope in 2018 when it was revealed that sales from Click and Collect had grown by 75% as compared to the previous year. There was no pandemic then.
By marrying the two experiences — ecommerce with brick-and-mortar — it was simply seen as a natural evolution of commerce.
But then came the pandemic. And this naturally evolving trend became a dire need for businesses. As sales shifted online, it became harder for businesses to keep up with the intensified demand and meet buyer expectations. Click and Collect became a preferred choice for both customers and retailers.
Companies that had already invested in the right technology and had rolled out a Click and Collect strategy made the most of the pandemic-inspired trend. Target, for example, saw a 700% increase in their Drive Up sales and a 200% increase in their online sales during the second quarter of 2020.
But even as we’re coming out of the pandemic, this trend is here to stay — simply because it makes sense.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the Click and Collect method of fulfillment and explore everything about it so you can easily implement it in your ecommerce strategy.
What is Click and Collect & Why is It Important?
Simply put, it’s a method of fulfillment where customers shop online and then pick up their orders at the nearest available physical location. It’s also referred to as curbside pickup and Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS).
With ecommerce websites and mobile apps, it has become easier than ever for customers to find what they need. But still, problems like cart abandonment and low conversions plague the ecommerce sphere. It doesn’t take a lot of genius to arrive at the main causes of these frustrating problems: Among others, high delivery charges and uncertainty about delivery time are important factors to blame.
As far as sales and conversions are concerned, improving the overall customer experience is the rule of thumb. The lower the friction in your buyer’s journey, the higher your odds of converting a wary visitor into a paying customer.
Click and Collect is all about delivering convenience to the shopper. When done right, it removes friction from the customer journey and optimizes the final but crucial stage in ecommerce — order fulfillment and delivery.
How Does Click and Collect Work?
It’s a hybrid ecommerce model that combines retail with online. The customer buys online but instead of having the order delivered, visits the physical curbside location to pick up their order.
How it works depends on your business and the strategy you implement. There are different ways businesses are using Click and Collect today.
- Pick up at the nearest store selected by the customer during checkout
- Pick up at third-party locations or dedicated collection points
- Pick up at collection drive-throughs
Later on in this post, we’ll look at some examples of how successful businesses like Target, Asda, and Ikea are using Click and Collect to improve convenience for their customers.
The Benefits of Click and Collect for Retailers & Shoppers
Click and Collect, curbside pickup, or BOPIS is all about convenience for the customer. When shopping online, customers want their orders delivered on time and at no additional charges. Instead of waiting for days or weeks to receive their order, and without the additional cost, customers can drive up to the nearest location and collect their orders. It also reduces the risk of having their parcels stolen, lost, or damaged.
To take the convenience aspect to another level, companies like Asda are also offering a Try it On facility at the collection point. When customers drive up to the collection point, they can check their order and even try it on. If they don’t like it, they can return the parcel on the spot — at the same collection point.
From the shopper’s perspective, Click and Collect offers even greater advantages for retailers.
For some industries like Food and Beverage and grocery, in particular, curbside pickup is the only way businesses can fulfill online orders while battling already low margins. For small businesses, in particular, curbside pickup isn’t as expensive and labor-intensive as local deliveries. However, it all depends on the size of the business. For mid-level to large businesses, curbside pickup becomes a complex operation requiring considerable investment in ecommerce development and getting the right technology and people to support it.
Click and Collect also offers many upselling and cross-selling opportunities for retailers. Studies have shown that customers who opt for curbside pickup purchase about 50% more than their original order.
Offering BOPIS is also a great way to increase in-store traffic, allowing retailers to use experiential marketing strategies to engage customers and improve customer loyalty.
Curbside pickup is also especially very useful during the holiday season when it becomes harder for businesses to cope with the increased shipping demands. Studies have shown that sales from Click and Collect increase during the holidays.
Examples of Businesses That Are Using Click and Collect
Let’s see what strategies the pros are using to implement Click and Collect in their ecommerce business model.
Order Pick Up by Kroger
Though it has taken a simple approach to order pickups, Kroger has truly reinvented the food and beverage ecommerce space. The app allows users to choose order pickup when they place the order and select the time and date for pickup. Kroger Associates, who are trained to shop for fresh produce, hand-pick products, and hand the orders to customers in the parking lot when they arrive.
To deliver a seamless customer experience, the app lets users enter special instructions for each product ordered. For example, you can let them know you want “only ripe bananas.”
The Kroger app also lets Click and Collect customers communicate with the store when they’re 15 minutes away so associates can get the order ready in time.
Toyou by ASDA
ASDA has taken the Click and Collect concept to another level with automated robots, self-service parcel towers, QR codes and so much more. They’re making the most of technology to improve convenience for their customers.
ASDA also partners with more than 100 retailers across the UK to offer collection and returns services to their customers.
The way it works is simple: When customers shop with ASDA or any of its partner retailers, they can choose to collect their order from a convenient Toyou location. When the order is ready to collect, they receive a confirmation email with an order ID and a QR code.
Customers can then drive up to the Toyou location, scan the QR code, and have an employee bring the parcel.
ASDA has also added trial rooms to more than 300 of its locations to let customers try on their fashion purchases before driving away. If they’re not happy with their purchase they can return it through the Toyou parcel tower.
Drive Up and Order Pickup by Target
Target offers two options for Click and Collect — Order Pickup and Drive Up.
The app automatically fetches customers’ locations and selects the nearest store. The store settings can also be changed in the app if needed. When users select a store, they only see products that are available at that particular store. This way, they can shop and have their orders ready for pickup within 2 hours at that particular store.
When customers choose Order Pickup at checkout, the store employees get the order ready and waiting for them inside the store.
Drive Up, on the other hand, lets customers collect orders without setting foot in their store. They can simply drive up to the store’s parking lot and park in the designated Drive Up spot. The Target App lets users communicate with the staff and let them know that they’re coming, what vehicle they’re in, and when they’ve reached the location. A Target employee then brings out their order and loads it into their car — all within a few minutes, if not seconds!
Store Mode by Zara
Zara offers a Store Mode within its app. When customers activate the Store Mode, they can choose the store they want to shop from. This allows users to view real-time inventory — stock that’s actually available in that store.
It offers three different Click and Collect fulfillment methods: Click and Go, Click and Find, and Click and Try.
When customers choose Click and Go, they complete their order online and receive a QR code in the app. They then drive up to the location they selected earlier and have an employee scan the QR code and hand out the order. Zara has also installed an automated collection point in the Westfield Shopping center in London where customers can scan the QR code and a robotic arm retrieves the order and hands it out via a self-service kiosk.
In Click and Find, customers choose what they want to buy online and have the app guide them to the actual product in the store via an on-screen map.
Lastly, Click and Try lets shoppers buy online and have the item reserved for them in-store so they can try it out. This option is especially popular among fashion retailers.
Click and Collect by Forever New
Besides the traditional Click and Collect model, Forever New has rolled out a new feature called Reserve in-store.
When customers shop online via Forever New’s website or app, it requires them to choose Reserve in-store in settings and select their preferred store from the list. Forever New uses a feature called Find in-store that allows customers to check a product’s availability in the store they selected earlier. If it’s available, they can use the Reserve in-store feature to request a reservation. Once reserved, customers receive a confirmation email and SMS.
Unlike Click and Collect, reserving the product doesn’t require any prepayments. Customers arrive during the designated timeframe and try out the product. If they like it, they pay for it and possibly buy something else, too.
On the other hand, they also offer a simple Click and Collect model. However, unlike other businesses we’ve discussed here, their model is quite straightforward. The customer buys a product, pays for it, and chooses “Click and Collect” as a method of delivery. They’re then given a list of pickup stores to choose from. When a customer selects the store, the product is shipped from the warehouse to that store and is made available for pickup within a few days.
Implementing Click and Collect: Are Your Systems Technically Capable?
Click and Collect isn’t something you can or should roll out in a day. If not done right, it may hurt your customer experience and drive customers away, defeating the whole purpose of offering Click and Collect.
In 2016, when brands started experimenting with Click and Collect, shoppers were reporting longer wait times, the inability of employees to retrieve their orders, and orders running out of stock.
While it was a nightmarish scenario even back then, today’s customers have become more demanding and impatient than ever. The moment they land on your website, they expect everything to be smooth and frictionless — from product search and checkout to the final fulfillment. And so, there is no room today for businesses to experiment.
Proper implementation of Click and Collect can mean the difference between a happy customer and one that disparages your business everywhere they go. Hence, you must figure out how to do it right the first time before you start offering the option of BOPIS on your online store or mobile app.
Here is how you can implement Click and Collect in your business.
Inaccurate inventory data is one challenge retailers face when implementing Click and Collect. If the customer drives up to the specified location and finds their items out of stock, it can create a very negative experience. Fulfilling orders right the first time is crucial in Click and Collect. And for this, you need to ensure that your inventory data is accurate. If your data isn’t organized and records are out of order, it’s time to first invest in an inventory management system before implementing curbside pickup.
Besides accurate inventory, you need systems to record customer data. If you’re selling across different channels using an omnichannel ecommerce strategy, you need proper systems and software to record sales and orders coming through all of those different channels.
Integrating Your Systems
All those systems you’ve invested in are no good if they’re operating in silos. To improve your business efficiencies and reduce margins of error, you need to unify and integrate those systems to get a 360-degree view of your customers, orders, and inventory.
A Designated Location for In-Store Pickup
To reduce wait times for customers who drive up for order collection, your store should have a designated pickup spot. For small businesses, it could be a small counter in the store with staff specially trained in handling collection orders. Large businesses could, however, consider setting up a designated location with separate workflows and staff.
System for Storing Parcels
You need a merchandise storage system or a mini-warehouse that stores orders before the customer picks them up. The storage system should include lockers, dividers, baskets, and shelves to organize parcels neatly so they can be retrieved without hassle.
If you’re facing increased demand for pickup orders, consider investing in automation technology like robots to automatically retrieve orders after a QR code or barcode verification.
Email and SMS Automation
Successful implementation of Click and Collect depends on effective communication between customers and the store. When the order is ready for pickup, your system should trigger email and SMS alerts to the customer.
When the customer arrives at the location, they need to be able to communicate with the store. Ideally, it should be done via a mobile app with the tap of a button instead of having the customer place calls to the store and being put on hold.
SMS functionality can also be integrated with the CRM or helpdesk that allows customers to send an SMS to the store alerting them about their arrival.
Creating Workflows for Click and Collect
To deliver a seamless experience, order collections and pickups need to be seen as separate from retail and ecommerce sales. It should have its own separate workflows with staff especially allocated for handling these orders. Likewise, its performance needs to be measured separately from its own KPIs.
Offering a dedicated parking spot and free parking for pickup customers can increase customers’ adoption of Click and Collect as a fulfillment option.
Sales from Click and Collect soared during the pandemic. But there is no way this growth is going to stagnate. It’s estimated that the US Click and Collect sales will reach more than $140 billion by 2024, up from $70 billion in 2020.
But it’s imperative to get it right the first time. In today’s highly competitive ecommerce landscape, there is no room for brands to experiment with a trial and error strategy. It’s recommended that businesses work with a technology partner from the outset to deliver convenience and an amazing ecommerce experience.