The convenience and variety online shopping offers has no doubt contributed to e-commerce sales growing significantly. Meanwhile, - although consumers still see value in the traditional in-store experience - footfall in stores has steadily declined.

In a bid to drive customers back to the high street, whilst maintaining the convenience of e-commerce, many retailers have expanded to omnichannel offerings such as click-and-collect.

Click-and-collect brings together online and physical stores, allowing customers to order online but pick up their goods in-store when it is convenient for them. An added benefit is that when customers come to collect, many stay to browse the store, making additional purchases.

As the way we shop evolves, so do customer expectations. Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal to companies based on the experience they receive.

In order to provide a valuable experience to their customers, retail stores must be able to meet customers’ needs in a timely way. In fact, waiting less than 2 minutes to collect an order in-store can make a customer 4x more likely to repeat purchase from the same retailer. And one in three admit they would ditch a brand after just one bad experience. So, it is important that retailers ensure everything from the online ‘click’ experience, through to the in-store ‘collect’ experience is consistently satisfactory.

Understanding customers’ needs

Improving the collection experience firstly requires an understanding of all customers’ needs so that any changes do not detract from the experience of others. Most shoppers can be categorised by the following;

  • Researchers: When researchers browse in-store, they are likely to be in the ‘information gathering’ stage and are not sure of what they want to buy yet. With guidance from knowledgeable sales assistants, researchers can be turned into paying customers.
  • Impulse shoppers: These are typically customers who do not have a specific product in mind but similarly to researchers, could turn into paying customers with the right service and products.
  • Need-based shoppers: Need-based shoppers have already researched what they want to buy and are visiting the store with the intent to purchase or return a specific product. These customers might still need assistance to find additional sizes, styles, or other general queries so it is important to have staff available to assist and process the transaction at the till.
  • Click-and-collect customers: A click-and-collect customer tends to be much further down the journey, they have already researched and completed the sale online so are less likely to require additional assistance in-store. For them, the goal is to retrieve their items in a convenient manner.

The pandemic has made it even more important for people to spend as little time as possible in stores waiting to pick up orders, yet a typical in-store collection can take as many as 8 steps or more.

  1. Customer arrives at the store
  2. Queue up at till or dedicated counter
  3. Wait for an available salesperson
  4. Show order confirmation
  5. Staff member retrieves package from the storeroom
  6. Validate ID
  7. Staff scans and logs the collection into the system
  8. Customer in possession of goods

Growing parcel volumes leads to increasing operational costs.

As well as affecting the customer experience, click-and-collect can increase operational costs if not managed correctly. As orders increase so do the packages and the amount of space needed to store them, and storage comes at a cost to businesses. Logistics consultant Lynn Parnell said: "The space to store goods while they're awaiting collection can be expensive, considering it's taking away from the sales floor.

Shop floor staff are most beneficial on revenue-generating tasks, using their product knowledge to turn browsing shoppers into paying customers. The growing need for employees to manage click-and-collect orders comes at the expense of other tasks, affecting the customer experience and potentially losing vital sales.

Since staff time is not finite, the amount of resources required to manage packages also increases as the volume of orders grows. Hiring additional staff is not a cost-effective or scalable solution.

So, how can the collection process be optimised?

Since a click-and-collect customer has already completed the sale, the in-store pickup process can be optimised by completely removing the need for staff intervention and allowing customers to self-serve when collecting or returning online orders.

A customer collecting an order in less than 2 minutes can be achieved by using an automated parcel locker solution to manage click-and-collect orders. Once an order is placed in a Parcel Pending by Quadient locker by a courier, or internal staff, an automated notification goes to the recipient.

When the customer comes to collect, the locker can be opened via their smartphone in seconds, requiring no physical contact with the screen. Customers no longer need to queue up at a till or desk with other shoppers in close vicinity, helping to support social distancing.

They can then decide whether they want to interact with staff for additional services, making it feel like a safer and more efficient in-store experience.

And crucially, this doesn’t just benefit the customers collecting orders, but also allows retail staff to focus on other customers’ needs who require advice or service, making the shopping experience more enjoyable all round. By improving the experience for all customers, retailers can build stronger brand loyalty.

Case study: Decathlon

A brand which strives to make user experience central to its strategy is global sports equipment retailer, Decathlon, who have over 1000 stores worldwide in addition to their online presence.

After seeing over 20% growth in click-and-collect orders, their staff time became increasingly consumed with parcel management and operational costs grew.

Decathlon recognised a need to optimise the in-store collection process to save their staff valuable time, cut operational costs, and it was important that any changes would also improve the experience for their customers and drive those add-on sales.

Quadient worked with Decathlon to successfully install smart parcel lockers in 20 Decathlon stores in France, ranging from 75 to over 150 lockers per store. The lockers were customised to ensure they were suitable for the unique sizes of Decathlon products and then wrapped in a design to match the brand and store aesthetics.

Intelligent parcel lockers allowed Decathlon to successfully manage footfall by eliminating the need for Click-and-Collect customers to queue in-store, freeing up staff time to support with queries or process sales for the customers with intent to purchase.

Implementing Parcel Pending by Quadient parcel lockers not only attracted more customers to the Decathlon stores but also encouraged additional spending. 33% of customers spent additional money in stores in Europe averaging at 45 Euros extra per shopper.

Since the lockers are carrier-agnostic, they can be used by both internal and external couriers, helping to streamline delivery processes and bring down costs. Decathlon reported a 50% reduction in freight costs after implementing parcel lockers.

“The project offers a swift, innovative and customised returns service that also saves our teams from having to deal with parcels, which is often a time-consuming process especially during peak periods.”

Director of Operations at Decathlon, France

 

To read more about how Parcel Pending by Quadient can help retailers to streamline in-store collection processes, click here.

 

 

 

 

Headline photo by Viktor Bystrov on Unsplash

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