The ultimate guide to click and collect: 16 tips for a great customer experience
Buy online, collect in store services are already so popular in the UK that most large retailers offer it, while it’s set to grow in the US.
But what makes a great customer experience? What does the ideal collect in store service look like?
Here are a few ideas…
It’s no use offering click and collect if customers are unaware that you do it.
In a market where it’s already popular (41% of UK and 19% of US shoppers used such services last year) it can be a sales driver, or where it’s less well-known, there’s a need to raise awareness.
This can be done in a number of ways…
Mentioning in store pickup options in marketing materials helps to raise awareness. It’s also worth promoting it in stores.
Make visitors to the site aware of the service with messaging on landing pages and around the site.
Staples also shows which products are available for in store pick-up in site search results and on category pages.
This saves customers from the frustration of heading to product pages only to find that items cannot be collected in store.
Collect in store options should be shown where customers are making purchase decisions, as the availability can be the deciding factor.
Here, Office Depot places this information clearly above the call to action.
Let people know how it works. Deal with any concerns that may have.
Not everyone is familiar with click and collect, while others may not know how the full process works.
Office Depot deals with this well, providing a step by step guide, as well as a video and FAQs on the topic.
This is a key feature, which can save customers wasted time.
Don’t let them add products to their shopping carts only to find during checkout that stock is unavailable.
Allowing customers to search from product pages means that customers can quickly identify local stores stocking the product before ordering.
Here’s a good example from Staples. Customers are shown the saved location, but can also search other areas. It’s also useful to show a range of stores to provide more choice.
To make it easier for regular users, allow them to select a store that they can use quickly for future orders.
Of course, customers may sometimes want to use a different store for pick up, so it’s important to provide options to search alternative locations.
It’s also helpful to show available stores for collection on a map so the user can decide on the most convenient location.
Users should also be able to click on the pins for further information on opening hours, and to select the store straight from this screen.
Don’t forget the benefits of click and collect for attracting mobile users (and showroomers).
The want/need it now mentality is powerful, and retailers can take advantage of this by making it easy for mobile shoppers to reserve items for quick collection.
Here, Schuch works well on mobile, and offers fast collection for many products.
We can see in the screenshot above that Schuh offers a choice of methods, customers can either pay online before collecting in store, or reserve items and pay when they are collected.
There are pros and cons here:
If customers want an item fast, then a speedy collect in store service provides an advantage over competitors.
Staples, for example, has a one-hour pickup service, which is as fast as most services. UK retailer Schuh can do this in 20 minutes when items are already in stock.
This depends on the ability to fulfil orders from in store stock, so it does mean that retailers need the systems in place to enable a real-time view of stock levels.
This is be a key area of differentiation in future, so retailers should aim for the fastest possible collection times.
Lowe’s has a service, but it’s limited to store opening hours and unavailable for all products.
It’s still useful, but will be frustrating for lots of customers too.
If customers want to use in store collection options, then make it easy for them to find items without having to work too hard.
On many sites that advertise buy online, in store pickup options, only a fraction of items are available for collection.
This means that you can select an item from the product page, only to find that it’s only available for shipping to a home address.
B&Q avoids this issue by providing a filtering option by which users can see only those products which can be collected in store.
It’s not just about allowing customers to collect items in store, though that may well be the most common customer preference.
It’s mainly about convenience, and that can mean allowing customers to collect from a suitable location. That may be a local store, or perhaps a locker placed at a train station where the customer can collect items on the journey home.
This also provides options for the online-only retailers to offer in store collection, negating a key advantage that mutichannel retailers have.
For the brick and mortar retailers, they would normally prefer to have customers come into stores for collection, where they may purchase other items, but it’s really all about providing choice for customers.
Text alerts are useful for customers to remind them about orders. It also helps to provide a collection reference to use when customers reach the store.
The reminder about required ID is also useful. Another addition would be to tell customers where in store they can collect items. For a department store like John Lewis, it may not be immediately obvious.
This email from House of Fraser after a buy and collect order has been made is a great example of best practice.
First of all, it tells me where in store I need to go to collect my order. The map helps, and saves me the time I may have spent looking for the collection desk.
Further down the same email, the ID requirements are laid out clearly, as well as what to do if you want someone else to collect an order.
Most retailers don’t charge when customers reserve for in store collection, though UK retailer John Lewis recently introduced a £2 charge for orders under £30, citing the costs of shipping to stores.
In this specific case, you could argue that this is a useful method of increasing average order values, but I think the principle of providing the service free of charge provides an advantage over competitors.
It can also be argued that a customer collecting items in store could be more valuable due to the potential for cross-selling, while the ability to view and even try on products before leaving the store can also reduce returns rates.
You’ve created a great website with a smooth reserve or buy process for the customer. They’ve found the product they want at a price they’re happy with. Let’s not spoil that with a less than satisfactory in store experience.
I’ve experienced a range of standards when collecting items. For example, a local supermarket made me wait for 15 minutes while a member of staff searched the warehouse, came back to ask a colleague, before finally locating my order.
In others, it’s smooth. A dedicated collection point, a short wait and the offer to try out items before leaving the store.
This experience matters, In the first example, I decided not to use that service again, in the second I’ve placed many orders.
Here are a few points to consider:
Ensure that the in store experience works and customers will want to use it again. They’ll also leave with a positive impression of your brand.
It’s important that this works well too. I’ll refer you to this excellent post from Ben Logan which looks in detail at the Amazon locker experience.
This one was placed in a shopping centre near the public toilets. Perhaps not the best location.
Customers already demand more in terms of choice when buying online. Collect in store services provide one more option which can convince customers to make a purchase.
It’s not enough just to offer it, the aim should be to do it well, and that is all about providing the best possible customer experience.