Click and collect: A hat trick retailers can't pull off?
Both of these could describe the hat trick that retailers are trying to pull off with "click and collect" strategies. On the one hand, consumers are eager for the magic of going online with a click to purchase an item they can collect from a store. On the other hand, click and collect is a remarkable feat that most retailers struggle to pull off. Is click and collect the future of retail, or simply a reach too far in an attempt to compete with Amazon?
Why this is important: Omnichannel consumers are spoiled - they want it their way! While click and collect might be consumer utopia, it is a remarkable feat which quite simply is beyond the reach of many retailers desperate to compete with Amazon.
Click and collect: What's not to like about the best of omnichannel
The simple reality is there has never been a better time to be a consumer! There are unprecedented choices for how, when and where to shop. It has truly become a consumer centric world where consumers are the new point of sale. Not only do they decide where to purchase, but how and where to receive the goods.
In an effort to compete with the growth of ecommerce, many retailers have rushed to execute "click and collect" strategies. In a click and collect scenario, consumers shop online, they find a store carrying the specific item they want, click to purchase, and then go to the store to collect their purchase. In many ways, the click and collect is a very attractive blend of both online convenience, with the option of seeing the item first hand and talking with staff in a bricks and mortar. In theory, it should be consumer utopia and driving retail sales.
Consumer headaches from broken promises of click and collect
The Washington Post reports while as many as 42 percent of consumers have tried click and collect, many find it a bit of a headache. The strategy of blending online and store experience could be a huge win for retailers, especially during the hectic holiday shopping season when time is at a premium. Instead of going from store to store to find an item, click and collect should give the consumer piece of mind that they have made the purchase, and the store is holding their product for pickup. In fact, a study by Deloitte indicates that omnichannel shoppers are poised to spend about 75 percent more than store-only shoppers this holiday season.
So, what could possibly be wrong in this scenario? In a word – EXECUTION. The Post article cites a study reporting "fully 60 percent of such orders [click and collect] placed on Cyber Monday ran into problems."
The headaches become a reality in the "collect" at the store:
- Online purchase made and paid, but no actual inventory in the store.
- Online purchase made, but wrong item supplied at store pickup.
- Store pickup area not visible for consumer, or worse, part of cashier line!
- The consumer has to wait in a LONG line in order be able to collect purchase.
- No one at the store is assigned or can resolve click and collect issues.
If consumers are ready, what makes click and collect so difficult?
Saying you are going to do it is one thing. Getting it right is something completely different. Think about the magic of click and collect and what is actually required to pull it off in retail:
- The retailer's website has to be absolutely current on all items.
- It has to have a current store data base with all possible locations within a radius.
- The website has to be able to show real time store inventory of stock available at the item level by store.
- The website has to record the transaction for the consumer AND create a notice for the store to reserve the stock for the consumer to pick up.
- The store has to have the staff available and the processes to enable efficient pickup.
Click and collect is nice in theory, and in line with consumer preferences. The harsh reality is that it is a "hat trick" that most retailers can't pull off with today's infrastructure, antiquated systems, lack of resources, and questionable commitment by senior management.
Broken promises with click and collect may be worse than not offering it
Let's repeat that stat from the Post story: "fully 60 percent of such orders replaced on Cyber Monday ran into problems." Ok, that might be one of the busiest days of the omnichannel shopping year. But that is the point – that is precisely when omnichannel consumers would be inclined to use click and collect over Amazon and other ecommerce options.
The old age applies to retail more than ever: "You never get a chance to make a second impression." After waiting for over an hour in store to collect an item I purchased online this holiday season, I vowed to never go through that horrendous waste of time again. As a result of my click and collect experience, I purchased an Amazon Echo … online. I wonder how many other consumers did the same thing this season. Here's my new click and collect:
Alexa … which stores have that that special widget in stock? Alexa, can I get that widget online? Oh, I can have it in two days through Prime … Alexa please place my order now.