In a reversal of e-commerce fundamentals, bricks and mortar shops are becoming pivotal to e-commerce strategies in Australia. Click and collect is becoming a basic expectation for local online shoppers and has turned into a sizable and rapidly growing part of e-business.
Click and collect allows the user to purchase online and pick up their order at the selected store or outlet. Beyond simply creating a more convenient customer experience, it offers the opportunity for customers to ensure they are satisfied with their online purchases before leaving the store. This allows the associated costs of returns to be avoided by the consumer.
Large retailers such as Dick Smith and the Good Guys were early adopters of click and collect. These companies have utilised eBay’s outlet offering, as have Supercheap Auto, BCF and Masters.
Australian traditional retailers such as Myer, David Jones, Woolworths and Coles have been investing greater funds in their omni-channel platforms in the past two years, seeking to make use of their physical stores as pick-up points for online purchase.
Recent growth in domestic online retail, and slowing growth in international online sales, related to the weakening Australian dollar, is further stimulating local e-commerce revenue.
Retailers such as the UK giant Abercrombie &Fitch Co. are now able to use growth hacking marketing to test their online market before committing to launching bricks and mortar stores. Retailers can use analytics to get an accurate understanding of who their customer base is, where they live, work and shop and secure retail spaces accordingly to their demographics.
In the UK retailers such as John Lewis and Argos have opened a ‘Click and Commute’ shop in tube (train) stations. These allow people to collect their items on their commute. These two companies have had significant success in this channel with John Lewis seeing a rise of 19% of sales credited solely to click and collect purchases over the 2015 Christmas period. Woolworths followed suit in Australia as early as 2013 by launching an airport grocery collection station at Melbourne Airport (pictured above. source: http://www.woolworthslimited.com.au/)
Businesses need to be aware of the two strategical approaches to click-and-collect before including it in their eCommerce strategy. These are dependent upon stock control. Reserve and Collect allows the user to put an item on ‘hold’ at a particular store. Whilst the Purchase model ships the purchased product to the collection store on receipt of an online purchase.
As with any innovation there are always challenges. These centre around stock inventory and fulfilment as well as providing a consistent experience across all channels. Regardless, successful brands are embracing these challenges to satisfy their customer’s needs – which increasingly include the option to click-and-collect.