How to Avoid Click and Collect Chaos this Christmas

Click and Collect is fast becoming the favoured delivery model for consumers, particularly around peak periods. Last Christmas John Lewis reported that 52% of online orders were picked up via click and collect (from their stores or partner, Waitrose), and with the method up by 14.5% on 2015, it looks like retailers could be facing another click and collect Christmas.

But how can retailers deliver on their click and collect promises and provide their customers with a seamless, stress free experience? Tom Downes, CEO, Quail Digital, examines.

Slick and Seamless 

With 72% of customers regularly using the click and collect option, retailers need to ensure the experience for this delivery method is as slick as any other. Customers have little patience for waiting around, especially during the Christmas period, so retailers need to ensure that they don’t leave them frustrated and lingering by asking them to queue with customers looking to process returns or checkout in-store products.

To create a better experience stores should implement a separate kiosk or till specifically for click and collect so that customers can access their order quickly and easily. Immediacy is key and therefore any steps that can be taken to streamline the process is beneficial for both customer and retailer, particularly in peak shopping periods. Retailers should also consider offering customer’s QR codes that they could scan on entry to the store via a kiosk, which would subsequently alert a store associate via a headset to immediately search for the item. With this system, by the time the customer has arrived at the collection point, the order should have been picked and be ready for collection.

Efficient Store Associates 

It isn’t just customers who will be on a tight schedule during the run up to Christmas. Store associates will also be stretched, with increased hours and responsibilities across various departments. Retailers face the challenge of helping associates to become more efficient and fluid in their activity, able to respond to customer needs as soon as possible and being in the right place at the right time.

Good communication is key to helping in-store teams cope with the extra demands felt during peak shopping seasons. Retail teams should feel connected to one another at all times so that they have no hesitation in calling for help whenever and wherever it’s needed. Rather than trying to utilise dated communication means such as pagers or telephone systems (all of which need to actively be answered and can be ignored), teams should look to adopt wireless headsets. This technology will allow associates the freedom to move around the store, whilst linking the team together and not infringing on the customer experience.

As a result, managers can efficiently reallocate store associates to specific areas as required – opening check-outs, restocking shelves, and so on. In addition, staff can also communicate with each other – asking questions of product specialists to immediately answer a customer query, for example, or quickly getting someone on the shop floor to fulfil a two for one offer for a customer already at the checkout. The immediate and shared communication enables store associates to work together as a team to improve overall efficiency and productivity.

Be Prepared

The Christmas rush continues right up until the last possible moment. Thanks to click and collect, Pure Play retailers can offer next day delivery to a local convenience store right up until December 23rd. Last year, CollectPlus reported that their last parcel was collected at 11:19pm on Christmas Eve.

Retailers need to be prepared and keep their warehouses and stores fully staffed until the very end, so that no customer is left without their orders for Christmas.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that consumer demand for click and collect will continue this year, especially as Shop Direct, the second biggest Pure Play retailer, reported that they have seen a 20% increase year on year. Retailers must be prepared for the busy period and deploy methods that will underpin the efficiency of their click and collect service that both meets customers expectations and delivers a great experience.

At the moment, click and collect is a ‘nearly there’ experience. In order to improve customer experience, and tackle the Christmas rush, stores need to focus on prioritising and optimising resources and team members. Retailers need to realise that this service is important, and a vital means of elevating themselves above the Amazons of the retail world.

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