Click-and-collect is rapidly gaining popularity, not only among trend-setting millennials, but also older age groups who became accustomed to self-service shopping during the pandemic and now consider it a permanent part of their buying routines. Retailers who aren't offering it yet need to catch up. But what makes this hybrid form of shopping so appealing? More importantly, how do retailers create a successful and sustainable click-and-collect strategy?
Also known as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS or BOPUS), click-and-collect is expected to reach $703.18 Billion by 2027. Before investing in any new equipment or real estate, or creating new click-and-collect fulfillment operations, it’s important to understand what's driven this massive trend over the last few years.
First and foremost, it saves time. According to a 2018 report from Barilliance, 88% of respondents said they used click-and-collect because of speed. Forbes wrote at the time that "micro-shopping trips" (any trip taking less than five minutes) are on the rise "thanks to grocery services that let customers order online and pick up in-store." Micro-shopping trips increased by 8.7% at Whole Foods stores, and 11% at Whole Foods stores with dedicated pick-up locations after Amazon acquired the chain in August 2017.
Second, click-and-collect helps customers save on shipping costs. In the same Barilliance report cited above, saving on shipping costs was customers' second most popular reason for choosing click-and-collect (with 76% of respondents noting it).
As with most developments in e-commerce, industry giants are blazing the click-and-collect trail. Here are some places we've already seen it in action:
Click-and-collect isn't just good for shoppers and big-name brands – it's great for any business with brick-and-mortar locations. Cybertill, a leading cloud-based software innovator, found that 65% of shoppers make additional purchases in-store when picking up their online order.
Click-and-collect also solves issues around cart abandonment, which is a major barrier to online shopping. According to Barilliance, shoppers frequently abandon their online cart before purchasing because they find out too late about unexpected shipping costs, lack of express shipping, and an unfavorable return policy – all of which are easily circumvented in click and collect.
But it's not just about numbers. Click-and-collect is an integral part of the omnichannel customer experience, allowing customers more freedom, more options, and fewer barriers to fulfillment. "More important [than numbers]," write Forbes, "89% of those who use it are satisfied with the experience, largely because of the convenience."
Smaller chains face their own challenges in implementing click-and-collect. For many stores, space is an issue because click-and-collect requires a dedicated pickup location that is both clear and conveniently accessible to customers.
Click-and-collect requires a dedicated area for orders waiting to be picked up by the consumers. This channel is also more labor-intensive for retailers than in-store shopping because it requires store associates to pack and manage the orders.
When it comes to implementing in-store click-and-collect, retailers should prioritize:
For retailers to succeed at BOPIS, they'll likely need infrastructure specifically designed to make the transaction fast and convenient. AutoStore has recently introduced the new PickUpPort™ workstation with this shopping experience in mind.
Customers simply place their order online, travel to a retail store or fulfillment center, and approach a PickUpPort kiosk. Behind the scenes, AutoStore Robots retrieve the ordered goods from the storage Grid and carry them to the PickUpPort. The shopper then opens a drawer to retrieve their merchandise. Not only does it provide a frictionless omnichannel shopping experience, but an added benefit is that it boosts in-store traffic and sales by driving consumers to your physical storefront. Additionally, you’re appealing to eco-conscious consumers by providing a more sustainable, lower-carbon alternative to having products delivered by truck.
Though the physical implementation of click-and-collect might prove difficult, equally challenging and impactful to the customer experience is a well-designed and integrated digital user interface. Retailers need sophisticated software that faithfully reflects the store's brand; creates a seamless and intuitive customer experience; offers ways to further engage the customer via personalization powered by data intelligence; and streamlines store operations through real-time tracking and visibility of inventory and order status.
Developing a custom digital user interface can be quite a costly and lengthy undertaking. Leveraging a standardized software as a service (SaaS) product that can be quickly integrated and tailored to your store's brand promise can greatly improve your time to market and overall ROI. The AutoStore QubIt™ Fulfillment Platform could do just that, providing you with a configurable, turn-key solution along with the end-to-end support needed for successful BOPIS execution
Reflecting back on all the consumer data from the last five years, it's clear click-and-collect shopping is more than just a passing trend within the millennial cohort. It’s now a conventional form of shopping for all age demographics that’s here to stay. That’s why leading retailers are investing so heavily in new click-and-collect technologies and training.
To stay competitive, retailers first need to study up on all the accumulated research on consumer buying habits to understand why so many customers prefer this self-service method over in-store and online deliveries.
From there, they need to figure out space requirements and processes for fulfilling click-and-collect sales, which might include significant store layout modifications, locker/kiosk installations, and staff retraining.
Above all, retailers need to make the customer experience as customizable, frictionless, and convenient as possible. In today’s business environment, that requires investing in new equipment and software built specifically for the click-and-collect shopper.