Today’s online ordering capabilities make shopping easier and more convenient than ever before. When people need a product fast, they can often turn to online shopping to make all kinds of purchases and have the items delivered right to them in a few days to as little as an afternoon.
However, sometimes shipping fees and other shipping complications can create more issues than benefits for online shopping. For many businesses and consumers, the perfect balance between in-person retail and online shopping is the click and collect shopping method.
What Is Click and Collect?
Click and collect is a service that allows people to shop and complete their purchase online and go to the store or other affiliated location to pick up the items they’ve bought instead of having them shipped.
Click and collect combines the ease of a shopper finding just what they need online with the appeal of them viewing their purchases in person before taking them home sooner than the items would take to ship. This method also eliminates shipping costs, putting customers more in control over their own shopping habits.
What Can Click and Collect Look Like?
Click and collect has a few variations that different businesses use depending on their capacities and retail models, including:
- Curbside pickup: When customers place an order, they drive to the store at a specified time and park in a designated area. Store employees will bring the order out directly to the customers’ vehicles.
- Buy online, pick up in store: Shoppers go inside the store they ordered from and visit a designated holding area, where their order will be ready for them. During this pickup time, customers might also take advantage of a trip inside the store to look at and purchase additional items in person.
- Buy online, pick up in locker: Some retailers offer additional pickup locations beyond counters at their retail stores, such as warehouses or in-store sections with smart lockers. Collecting an order from a locker works similarly to doing so at a store, as customers either visit a pickup location or go to a separate section of the retail store to independently retrieve their items from smart lockers.
What Do Consumers Need to Do?
For consumers, click and collect is straightforward. Shoppers visit a store’s website or mobile app, browse and select items and place their order with the appropriate payment methods. From there, the retailer will give them a pickup time, which the customer will use as a guide for knowing when to go to the store or pickup location to gather their order.
What Do Retailers Need to Do?
On the storefront end, businesses need to have efficient systems to successfully carry out click and collect operations. Once a pickup order comes through, staff will gather the items from inventory, keep all their orders organized and label them with the correct pickup times. Retailers will also notify shoppers when their orders are ready to ensure as quick a turnaround time as possible.
Why Is the Demand for Click and Collect Rising?
In recent years, the number of retailers offering click and collect services has risen, as customer demand has increased for various reasons. Since click and collect combines elements of shopping in person and ordering online, it reaches a larger customer base by appealing to shoppers who normally prefer one method over the other or have been looking for a way to experience both options at once.
Some of the biggest reasons click and collect is on the rise include:
Click and collect presents a convenient shopping solution that combines the best aspects of shopping in stores and online for a hybrid experience that offers more benefits than either does on its own. Shoppers can make online purchases from anywhere at any time.
Ordering online and picking up at a store provides the familiar experience of driving to stores to run errands, but with faster transactions. Users simply add their items to an online cart and skip waiting in lines, cutting errand times in half and giving shoppers more free time.
Store pickup services also make life easier for several different people — from parents who want less hassle while bringing their kids on errands to people who want or need store employees to load their purchases into their cars for them.
Browsing and placing orders online lets people complete their shopping needs from the comfort of their own homes, and click and collect lets them pick up their purchases without ever leaving their cars. When people feel more comfortable making purchases, they may also be more likely to show retailers repeat business or even make more purchases than they would if click and collect options weren’t available.
People like to be in control of how they make and receive purchases. Click and collect allows for a high level of shopper control. People can shop online, browsing for the exact items they need, reading product descriptions and viewing a clear total price as they shop. They can then go to the store and immediately take their purchases home, instead of waiting for and relying on shipping and handling procedures.
One drawback to purely online shopping is customers’ inability to see their items in person before they’re shipped. Click and collect provides a solution, letting people view the items at the store just as if they were shopping in person, to ensure they really want the products. The ability to see items beyond a screen is especially important for purchases like clothing, where people often feel happier with items they know will fit and look good.
Click and collect retail also puts people in charge of when they receive their purchases. Instead of shoppers getting deliveries when they aren’t home or during inclement weather, they can shop and pick up orders when they have the time.
Click and collect eases shoppers’ minds about shipping issues. Though not common, courier delays can happen, and packages may occasionally be delivered to the wrong addresses. Many people feel more comfortable avoiding the potential for these problems altogether.
Click and collect can also provide all the convenience of same-day shipping without the costs and with some added benefits. This method puts shoppers in control of transporting their purchases, so they’re less likely to incur additional costs for lost or damaged items.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, click and collect services have become exponentially more popular. Amid contagion concerns and efforts by companies and customers to stay safe and reduce the spread of the virus, click and collect, particularly curbside pickup, offers shoppers peace of mind. Ordering ahead lets people avoid spending time in crowded stores. Curbside pickup also gave retailers the option to stay in business during store shutdowns.
The pandemic has been one of the biggest driving forces behind click and collect’s popularity, allowing people to stay safe while having fulfilling shopping experiences and meeting their immediate needs. Even beyond the necessities of COVID-19, people are so swayed by the convenience of pickup options that click and collect retail will most likely keep its popularity long into the future.
What Types of Businesses Can Benefit From Click and Collect?
Whatever products your business sells, chances are, you could benefit from providing click and collect services. The process typically makes for easier transactions on both the buyer’s and seller’s ends. With the divides between click and collect and brick-and-mortar shopping blurring, various businesses can successfully implement click and collect into their existing retail models.
Many retailers even see an increase in business after implementing click and collect. Once shoppers come to the store to pick up their order, many even buy additional products they walk past or browse for. Customers can develop strong loyalties to retailers that offer click and collect services, meaning they’re more likely to choose your stores over others if you offer effective pickup options.
Some of the most prominent types of retail businesses that use click and collect include:
- Clothing stores
- Grocery stores
- Electronics stores
Many other types of retailers can use click and collect to their advantage. If your business sells easily transportable products, click and collect is an excellent way to meet customer needs, adapt to a new era of e-commerce and even drum up new business.
How to Set Your Business up for Click and Collect Services
The future of retail includes innovative shopping options that benefit consumers and businesses. Click and collect is an excellent way for your business to provide new and improved customer service experiences. Here are some tips for setting up this service:
Create Your Ordering Method
Depending on what you sell, you’ll want to give click and collect customers the easiest possible access to your products. Defining how people can place orders will give you a firm foundation for the rest of the process.
Different industries offer numerous ordering methods, usually through their own branded websites or mobile apps. Restaurants, for example, often require people to call or fill out an online form when ordering food to go. Many grocery stores have online ordering sites that allow people to make substitutions if an item they want isn’t in stock. Some clothing and department stores give shoppers the option of ordering an item online and shipping it to their nearest store location if that location doesn’t already have it in stock.
Whether you use one of the above options or a combined approach, choose the method that works best for your business. Then, design the rest of your click and collect plans around this initial form of customer contact.
Though your stores likely already have some of the most important retail ingredients, such as inventory and employees, establishing click and collect services requires extra organization and intention.
When planning your storefront’s operations, answer the following questions:
- What volume of people do you expect to use this service at one time?
- How long after ordering will it take your business to prepare people’s orders?
- How soon after ordering can you guarantee orders will be ready?
- What pickup instructions will the ordering method provide for shoppers?
- How will you notify shoppers their order is ready for pickup?
- Will customers walk inside the store or use curbside pickup?
- How will customers let you know they’ve arrived to pick up their orders?
Additionally, make sure you train employees to deliver top-notch services. Create simple instructions and signs so people using your click and collect methods know how to place and receive their orders. Customer service is an important component of click and collect. The primary goal is always to make customers happy and satisfied with your stores.
Create Your Collection Area
After ironing out the behind-the-scenes logistics, plan a comfortable, convenient collection area that solidifies your business’s commitment to customer satisfaction. Designated pickup areas look different depending on whether they’re outdoors or indoors. Either way, creating an easy-to-find and user-friendly area is one of the most important aspects of a positive shopping experience.
First, you’ll want to highlight the area to make it easily identifiable. For indoor areas, this might mean placing signs to lead people to the pickup counter. For outdoor areas, consider adding a shade structure to act as a functional focal point.
You’ll also want to make sure the area is comfortable and easily accessible. Indoors, this might mean setting it up away from high-traffic aisles or creating a section separate from the usual ordering or checkout counters.
Outdoor collection areas can benefit from clearly labeled parking spots that tell shoppers where to go. Additionally, a shade structure can increase comfort for all, protecting waiting customers from the sun’s heat and making it easy for employees to deliver orders to people’s cars while staying cool under the shade.
Perfect the Click and Collect Process With USA Shade
Click and collect is swiftly becoming the future of retail operations. To meet shoppers’ evolving needs and preferences, consider adding a click and collect system to your business model. By providing this popular service, you’ll expand your business’s consumer base and give people options for how they’d like to shop for your products.
When implementing outdoor order pickup options, you want your customers and employees to be as comfortable as possible. Shade structures, shade sails and cantilevers are the perfect way to draw attention to your designated pickup areas and keep shoppers and workers out of the sun.
At USA Shade, we offer various innovative shade structures for all kinds of outdoor applications, including curbside pickup locations and outdoor shopping center seating areas. Our skilled teams use only the highest quality designs and materials for durable structures to benefit your stores for years to come.
We offer various standard designs and provide the option to create a tailored fit for your business in our highly collaborative customization process. Contact USA Shade today for more information about our projects or to get a quote for an upcoming project!