There’s no doubt about it, this past year witnessed continued massive change in the retail landscape. With consumers expecting a dynamic always-on shopping experience, winners in the space have embraced the challenge by exploring innovative technologies and strategies to create authentic brand experiences across e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping.
According to one recent report*, this past holiday season alone saw consumers using a variety of channels for holiday shopping, with 90% making purchases in a physical store, 40% using click and collect and 46% ordering online from retailers with a physical presence and shipping the product home. Of those who used click and collect, 90% bought additional items once in stores.
In 2018, omnichannel retailers are continuing to deploy more sophisticated strategies and technologies to gain ground from pure play online retailers. This may indeed be the year where we start to see click and collect technologies reach their full potential to help omnichannel retailers combat the Amazon effect that has threatened the traditional retail space. In deciding how to best use innovations like click and collect technology, here are three key things to consider.1. Automate, but keep in mind the user experience. Don't forget that the system must make it easier for the company as well as the customer.
Today’s customers are placing a lot more emphasis and importance on experiences, and this doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon. And as omnichannel retailers look to explore cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and more, they must balance driving operational efficiencies with delivering customized experiences to surprise and delight customers. These are exciting and promising developments. This also means retailers must to keep the user experience in laser focus as they automate technologies across store operations.
The ability for omnichannel retailers to deliver products quickly and seamlessly through technologies like click and collect will be game changers in winning the customer experience challenge. Same-day delivery, reliable delivery estimates and easy in-store pickup will continue to create customer loyalty and enhance the customer experience further. Consumers really want efficiency, and it’s critical for retailers to ensure this is at the core of their automation strategy.2.Leverage your physical network.
One of the keys to a successful and profitable click and collect solution is a retailer’s ability to leverage their physical network through optimized supply chain management and logistics operations. Instead of firms pushing cases and pallets to physical stores, e-commerce has consumers pulling customized baskets to their desired location, whether home, a nearby store, or other convenient location such as lockers.
This push-to-pull model has created a structural change in underlying supply chains and the movement of goods in terms of product flow, location of assets, delivery mode, and enabling technologies and analytics, according to US E-Commerce Trends and the Impact on Logistics. April 2017. The impact on logistics is huge. When done right, consumers experience a seamless and efficient shopping experience and retailers find they can compete with pure play online retailers in real-time.3. Be efficient and save time.
According to the “2017 Click and Collect Retail Consumer Preference Study” by Bell and Howell, when asked to select the most important attribute of a click-and-collect experience, 56% replied a quick in-and-out experience while 22% indicated no waiting in line was key.
Saving on shipping charges was the key driver (76%) when selecting click and collect. However, needing the item that day (54%) and proximity to another store the respondents were going to (50%) were also important.
Speed was the consistent theme, as 83% expected to hear back within 24 hours after placing an order online that their item is ready for pickup. Nearly 60% expected to hear within the first four hours. Eighty percent expected to be able to pick up their item in under 10 minutes from the time they enter the store, with 27% expecting it to be less than four minutes. It’s clear from this research that creating the best in-store experience lies in enabling what matters most to click and collect consumers – speed and convenience.
Omnichannel retailers who aren’t afraid to innovate and reimagine the customer experience are poised to be winners in the rapidly changing retail space. Recent developments point optimistically to retailers already seeing return on investment through increased in-store and online sales this past holiday season. It’s clear for many retailers, it’s time to disrupt or be disrupted.
Andres Liinat is CEO of Cleveron, a fast-growing technology company developing robotics and IoT solutions for click-and-collect parcel pick up solutions for leading retailers and logistics companies in the U.S. as well as in Europe.* The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Post-Holiday Shopping Survey, January 9, 2018