76% of online shoppers would be using click and collect services by 2017.

So, here we are. Commercial space travel might still be a pipe dream, but are we all racing to pick up our online orders in person?

Here’s a few facts and figures on the current state of click and collect, as well as a bit of insight into how the service might evolve in future.

Consumer demand for convenience

Before we get on to any changes in the click and collect model, it’s worth noting that consumer expectations for a seamless and multichannel experience have heightened in the past few years. Consequently, basket abandonment remains a huge problem for online retailers.

Of course – from complicated sign-in forms to an absence of guest checkout – there are many reasons why consumers fail to follow through on purchases.

However, two of the biggest remain surprise delivery charges and a lack of convenient delivery options.

A recent Shutl survey of over 1,070 shoppers found that 95% of consumers would consider going to another retailer if their first choice didn’t offer a suitable delivery time.

What’s more, it also concluded that 45% of consumers now have higher expectations of online delivery than in 2015.

Increase in services

The question is – are online retailers meeting this demand?

As of early 2016, it was reported that just over half of online retailers were offering a click and collect service, with 72% of consumers also making use of it.

So, it appears we’re not far from reaching the 76% prediction, and this is likely due to many more retailers introducing click and collect since 2014, as well as an increase in the types of services offered.

Instead of just multichannel retailers such as Next or John Lewis offering in-store pick up, both ecommerce brands and supermarkets are now partnering with third-party companies to offer greater convenience.

Just one recent example is Missguided, which added a Collect Plus option last year to give loyal online shoppers the chance to pick up goods from local convenience stores and newsagents. It also partners with delivery startup Doddle.

Many retailers are also cottoning on to the fact that click and collect is not only a way of reducing online abandonment, but increasing footfall and in-store sales.

Take Morrisons, for instance, which also partnered with Doddle to add click and collect concessions to its larger outlets. By introducing this feature, it has been able to give greater incentive for consumers to shop in its physical supermarkets, in turn capitalising on spontaneous in-store purchases.

Challenges and consumer dissatisfaction

Despite the increase in click and collect usage, shoppers have been left increasingly frustrated with the experience of late.

According to JDA, 36% of shoppers encountered a problem with collection last Christmas, with long waiting times and a lack of in-store employees being cited as the biggest areas of dissatisfaction.

Implementing the service can be a risk for retailers.

While the added convenience and increase in sales might prove irresistible, there is the danger that consumer perception will be damaged, and margins will become even tighter.

With click and collect costing retailers four times more than in-store purchases, a lack of profit is indeed a significant problem.

And as a result, even big retailers like John Lewis and Tesco have begun charging for click-and-collect orders under £30, potentially putting off consumers from using it in the process. Indeed, after angry responses from Tesco consumers, the supermarket subsequently dropped the charge.

Other retailers have introduced measures to try and prevent this type of backlash. Sports Direct, for example, charges £4.99 for collection, but also offers a £5 voucher if consumers pick up from a store instead of a Collect Plus outlet.

Of course, another factor that could impact click and collect usage is the option for same day delivery.

72% of consumers say that they would be willing to pay more to ensure their items are delivered on the same day, which means that standard collection services could be sidelined if even more retailers introduce it.

Whether or not this will happen in the near future is unclear, with reluctance from retailers again stemming from high cost and logistical complexities.

Rise of ‘click and commute’

With the aforementioned challenges, it is clear that the click and collect model might not have the same attraction as it did three years ago.

That being said, it’s still been suggested that click and collect usage will double by 2025, with the expectation that it will generate 10% (or £23bn) of UK retail sales.

So, where will this growth stem from?

Many predict it will be from the so-called ‘click and commute’ model, which counts on retailers partnering with third-party companies to offer dedicated collection points in train stations.

With Doddle reportedly opening a new location every two weeks in the UK, as well as expanding its service to the US market, we’ve already seen evidence of this.

As consumer expectations continue to increase, we could see many more retailers opting for this cost-effective solution to the tricky ‘last mile’.

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