Click and Collect – The Secret Sauce for Retailers This Holiday Season?

According to the latest eMarketer projections, total US retail sales are expected to increase by 1.8% over Holiday 2015 to nearly $869 billion. Ecommerce, and more specifically, mobile commerce, is poised for impressive growth, due to changing consumer behaviors and the improved ease of mobile shopping. But a large number of consumers are still shopping in stores, after doing research online, and smart retailers have picked up on this. Last year, we started to see mainstream implementation of click and collect options, more commonly known to consumers as “order online, pickup in store”. During this holiday season, retailers have an opportunity to increase and fine-tune smart drive-to-retail strategies, like click and collect, that allow them to further leverage digital as an enabler for the in-store experience.

Convenience + Instant Gratification

Much of the allure around online shopping has always been focused on the convenience factor. With a virtually limitless choice of products and brands, plus the ability to shop in the comfort of one’s own home, ecommerce has played a major role in overall retail growth over the past several years. But holiday time continues to drive people in-store, so a strategic leverage of consumer behavior can be a winning combination.

In an analysis of the 2015 Holiday season, the International Council of Shopping Centers found that nearly one-third of shoppers opted to purchase products online, and then pick them up in-store. The same study found that 69% of shoppers who used click and collect during Holiday 2015 purchased additional items while picking up their online orders. For the busy parent or workaholic, or even the holiday worrier that may not trust those “guaranteed” shipping dates, a timely pick up in-store option perfectly marries convenience and near-instant gratification. And the data supports it. A recent study developed by Bizrate Insights polled consumers about why in-store pickups are a favorable option. 43% referenced the added convenience and 29% wanted to ensure items were in fact available when they arrived in-store.

Big Box Retailers Taking Notice

Retailers like Target and IKEA have placed tremendous efforts on engaging shoppers across mediums, leveraging ecommerce, mobile apps and in-store experiences. For a brand like Target, where the physical store presence tends to have more of an impact on revenue generation, expanding through the click and collect tactic helped to drive ecommerce sales, while maintaining the importance of the store. In fact, during Holiday 2015, Target saws its ecommerce revenues increase from 2.7% of total sales in Q3 to 5% in Q4. With ecommerce notoriously being a more challenging area for Target, they continue to boost its impact by bridging the customer experience from online to offline, and in-store.

Considerations for Successful Click & Collect

So, now that we know click and collect represents an important strategic opportunity, there are a few things retailers should consider for a successful implementation.

  1. Enhance your mobile presence: With a much larger shift to shopping on mobile this holiday season, retailers must invest in their mobile presence. More than just ensuring a site is correctly optimized, or even creating a mobile app, brands might consider using tools like mobile loyalty programs, digital coupons, personalized notifications and integration with social media. With intent to purchase from mobile continually increasing, these added strategies may further entice a customer to engage across channels.
  2. Create a dedicated store space: Retailers like IKEA have rolled out centrally located stores dedicated solely to click and collect orders. While that specific strategy isn’t a necessity, it is key to have some kind of dedicated area in your stores for customers to pick up online orders. While this gives shoppers the opportunity to browse your stores for something else that may catch their eye, it also enhances the convenience by allowing them to skip the regular checkout line, and get right to the product they need. It’s important that the ease factor be carried through the entire shopping experience.
  3. Have reliable inventory systems in place: With a reserve-in-store option offered, it’s critical to ensure that product is actually available. Particularly during the high-demand holiday season, a reliable inventory system will help to keep product availability up to date in real-time. Be sure those updates are reflected both internally, and externally to customers on both your mobile and desktop sites.
  4. Listen to your customers: If you haven’t yet considered a click and collect strategy, before you go full steam ahead, it’s a good idea to first listen to your customers’ needs, and assess your overall customer experience. Are customers happy with the in-store experience? Is your ecommerce presence making an impact? In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to change anything, but chances are, your customers will be able to tell you what they value most in their shopping experience.
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