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New research shows that one-in-five (19%) multichannel sales now comes from click-and-collect, up from 13% in the same period in 2012.

The figures are taken from sales data in Q3 2013 and show the importance of offering a click-and-collect service in the run up to Christmas.

Halfords and Argos have already proven the impact that the service can have on online sales, so it’s no wonder that small retailers also want to get in on the act.

A new service called StreetHub aims to make this possible in north London by creating ‘click-and-collect network of local boutiques with the best of design and fashion’.

Independent retailers can sign up to the online marketplace and offer their products for sale to customers looking within a specific area of London.

Items cannot be purchased directly on the site, but instead must be reserved and the collected in-store at some point in the following five days.

Reservation a product is free, but presumably StreetHub earns a commission on each item sold.

The idea behind the site is to drive footfall to local stores and help people discover interesting products. As such, it doesn’t include standard product navigation but instead allows users to browse items based on different boutiques or their own location. 

But is it any good?

UX

The site is built using responsive design, so it scales perfectly to whatever device you’re using.

I actually prefer using the mobile version, not least because many of the features present on the desktop homepage disappear so it focuses the user on the main function of the site – finding unique items in your local area.

When using a smartphone the site automatically identifies your postcode so you need only press ‘Get Shopping’ and it brings up a list of items in your vicinity.

                      

Each product is presented with an image, the price, the distance from your location and the names of both the item and seller.

It looks great but on mobile it’s hugely let down by the lack of filter options. The user can only filter the items based on six broad product categories, meaning that the cost and location of items is completely random.

The desktop site does allow you to filter on the price and ‘nearest first’, so it would make sense to offer these options on mobile as well.

Users can also search by a specific type of product, however the focus is very much on discovering new items in your local area.

Reserving a product

The product pages are well designed and generally feature a decent description alongside details of the location and opening hours of the seller.

However they would benefit from having a wider selection of images and offering the potential to leave reviews

For desktop shoppers there are two calls-to-action – ‘Quick reserve’ and ‘Add to bag’.

‘Add to bag’ does exactly what you’d expect, while ‘Quick reserve’ immediately spirits you away to a checkout where the reservation can be completed just by entering a name, address and mobile number.

The process is slightly different on mobile as the only option is ‘Reserve now’, so users aren’t really able to build up a shopping list.

This may be a good idea as mobile users do tend to be impulse shoppers so it’s a good idea to get them to the checkout as soon as possible, but it would probably be worth testing an ‘add to basket’ CTA as well to see what impact it has on conversions.

                      

Either way, on both desktop and mobile the checkout is incredibly simple to use and reserving items only takes a few seconds.

I haven’t tried out the in-store experience yet to see if it actually works, but I have my eye on some rather lovely moth earrings that I might buy my mum for Christmas, so watch this space...

In conclusion...

The concept of StreetHub is not exactly new as there are already other sites available, such as MyHigh.st, that also aim to give local retailers access to ecommerce sales.

However I think StreetHub offers a superior user experience. The search function is very easy to use and the unique nature of the products means it’s quite fun scrolling through the items. This is particularly true in the run up to Christmas when people will be looking for gift inspiration.

The experience is by no means perfect as there are a few small glitches when using a smartphone, plus as already mentioned the filter options and product pages could be improved.

But in general StreetHub is fun and simple to use, and any initiatives that are helping local, independent retailers make the most of ecommerce should be applauded.

The click-and-collect statistics in this post are taken from Q3 2013 sales data published by IMRG/Capgemini.

David Moth

Published 27 November, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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