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Click and collect (or reserve and collect, or whatever) is becoming ever more popular, to the extent that it is now a vital offering for any large multichannel retailer.
The reason? It fits perfectly with customer research behaviour, and allows retailers to drive footfall into their stores.
The experience must be right to maximise sales, and a new report from ExperienceLab looks in detail at the click and collect experience of major UK retailers.
It's a big report, but I've summarised some of the findings here and pulled out some key tips for retailers...
Click and collect: the stats
Our recent Christmas 2012 Online Shopping Survey found that 40% of shoppers used some sort of click and collect service over Christmas
Q: Did you reserve any items online for in-store collection this Christmas? (1,000 UK respondents)
- Check and Reserve accounted for 29% of Argos' £819m sales in Q1 2012.
- Halfords introduced a click and collect service two years ago, and now 86% of all its online sales are for in-store collection.
Despite its obvious success, some multichannel retailers have yet to offer the service. A recent study found that half of the UK's top 50 online retailers don't offer reserve and collect.
Best practices for click and collect
Click and collect can be a sales driver, so sites should make it clear to visitors that this option is available.
This means clear messages on homepages, products pages, basket pages, and throughout checkout.
While sites like Argos and ASOS offer the service, they have decided not to promote it on the homepage, though BHS does this well:
Allow users to check local stock availability on product pages
This is a great idea, as it saves customers the frustration of adding an item to their basket only to find out the item is out of stock locally once they get to checkout.
Here, Argos allows customers to quickly check local stock by entering a postcode:
Add 'fast reserve' options
This example also comes from Argos, and is a new addition (or at least I haven't noticed it before). It allows logged in customers to reserve at their preferred local store with a single click:
Explain how it works
Many sites have opted for text-heavy explanations of click and collect, which makes it harder to read and so less likely that customers will absorb the information.
Homebase provides an excellent example showing screenshots of the five-step process to make things nice and clear:
Make the option clear on the basket page
Customers may not decide they want click and collect until they get to the shopping basket, so make the options clear, as John Lewis does:
Make items available for collection ASAP
If items are in stock, let customers collect them at the earliest possible opportunity.
Shoppers may be using mobiles on the move and this kind of rapid collection service could make the difference between customers using your store or a competitor.
Here, Halfords makes items available one hour after reservation, though some are even faster:
Make it easy on mobile
With the growth of mobile use while shopping, reserve and collect services need to appeal to mobile users, so it should be easy to reserve on the move.
Asda's checkout process is easy, and the interactive map for choosing the store you'd like to collect items from is a nice touch.
However, I need to wait more than 24 hours to collect my item, a Bond DVD while I'm sure the store will have in stock already. This is an area for improvement.
Provide alternatives to in-store collection
Services such as Amazon Lockers or Collect+ mean that customers don't necessarily have to collect from stores, and also means that retailers don't necessarily need high street stores to offer reserve and collect.
For multichannel retailers, there is a decision to make on whether the added convenience and choice for customers outweighs the potential for upselling which comes with attracting people into stores.
Still, it's an option worth considering.
Get the in-store experience right
It's important that retailers get the in-store experience right for click and collect customers.
This means promoting click and collect services within stores, minimising waiting times, and offering clear signage for customers coming to collect their orders:
Click and collect should be free
The majority of retailers don't charge for the service, but some do, and they are at a competitive disadvantage as a result.
For example, Amazon Locker costs £1.99, New Look charges £2 and Boots £1.99 for orders under £20. It also requires me to wait up to five days to collect the item: