Blog Post - Gareth Elms, Dec 9 2014

​The big surprise in ecommerce in 2014

​The big surprise in ecommerce in 2014

It wasn’t funky technology, such as augmented reality or quadroter parcel delivery – but something that’s been around for years – click and collect.

Click and collect as we traditionally know it – where the customer orders online and then collects in store – became innovative in 2014. This year saw the advent of flexibility, with customers now able to choose to collect their grocery shopping from temperature controlled lockers at the airport; from the back of delivery trucks in London Underground station car parks, public car parks and post-offices, with some retailers also offering collection from your local convenience store.

In July 2014, Sainsbury’s launched a click and collect service from seven London tube stations, joining Asda, Tesco and Waitrose to forge a partnership with Transport for London. Waitrose has installed temperature controlled lockers at Gatwick North and South terminals, as well as some stores, and are planning to implement the facility at tube stations. More here.

Other retailers are poised to offer collections from mainline rail stations. New Look, Asos, Amazon and TM Lewin have signed up with Doddle - a joint venture between Travelex millionaire Lloyd Dorfman and Network Rail – there will eventually be 300 collection points at train stations across the UK. More here.

CollectPlus is a company that has signed-up over 5,500 neighbourhood shops, so customers can order online from larger retailers such as Top Shop and John Lewis and then pick up from the smaller outlets. More here.

Retail Gazette reported: The big daddy of them all, eBay, has also joined the push to offer alternative ways to pick-up your goods. The company went into trial with Argos at the end of last year and went live in 2014 with a service that allows eBay customers to collect their parcels from Argos shops. Ebay’s target for 2014 was to have 65,000 sellers offering collection from any of Argos’ 650 stores.

Research by Planet Retail reveals that currently 35% of UK shoppers use click and collect – a number that is predicted to soar to 76% of shoppers by 2017. Planet Retail cites cost of delivery and the inconvenience of waiting in for deliveries as the main factors driving the trend for picking-up your own goods.

Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce Company, has specialised in a number of click and collect implementations for our clients. These are the key factors to consider when considering your own:

1.Scope out the challenges first

Website changes are rarely the most difficult part of the click and collect implementation: Contract negotiation (if on third party site), collection scheduling and integration are the areas that can pose the biggest challenges.

Business processes, such as for returns and customer non-shows should be carefully thought-out prior to launch.

2.Prepare for integration

Integration is often demanding due to retailers dealing with legacy systems. Salmon are technology neutral, so whatever platform our clients operate on, we help guide them to the best solution. For Halfords, the original integration for their service (reserve or deliver to store) was considerable as it involved several systems, both in house and third party, such as WebSphere Commerce, SAP, Store 6 (BT Expedite in store system), Middleware, mapping and an SMS provider. A successful launch within the allocated timescale came through careful planning, cross company collaboration and close partnership with Salmon.

3.Build in customer communication

To ensure customers pick up their goods, particularly for a ‘reserve and collect service’, communication is key. Once an order is placed, Argos and Halfords communicate with the customer constantly.

Halfords took a proactive approach by developing a ‘ready, reminder, extend or cancel’ service via SMS for customers. This meant that as soon as the reservation was put aside by store colleagues, the customer would get a text and email to tell them their order was ready for collection. Then if not collected, on the day of collection customers receive a text message and email reminder: via two-way SMS, customers also have the option of extending their reservation for 24 hours or cancelling it. For Halfords, a benefit of cancelling is that they can release the stock and sell it to another customer. This service has been very successful in increasing collection rates for Halfords.

Customers are increasingly expecting same day collections for same day orders. In this area, stock integrity is everything, especially if it is ‘reserve and collect’. There is nothing more annoying for a customer than a call from their local store to say the product they have reserved is not actually in stock.

Halfords integrated with Store 6 BT Expedite in store system, and set stock thresholds to prevent this happening. What works well for most retailers is offering more than one store to collect from. On checking the customer’s postcode and the stock availability of their order, retailers can then offer choice. Argos offers ten stores to choose from, each showing the stores address and opening hours.

4.Deliver a seamless experience across devices

Mobile is an essential channel for customers and they expect the same brand experience whatever device they use.

At Salmon, we design for all devices from the outset so that both the visual and backend solution work seamlessly on desktop, mobile and tablet. We ensure that design concepts go through a tried and tested creative process, which starts by working collaboratively with clients through interactive requirement workshops. This leads to sketching out the proposed solution on paper, then creating on screen wireframes for all device types and finally a working prototype. This prototype is then put through vigorous usability testing before it is signed off as the final solution to go to design stage.

Other references