During the pandemic, unsurprisingly, the ecommerce industry has seen massive growth. But as consumers turned to online shopping, a segment of retail that saw significant growth last year was click-and-collect.
What Is Click-and-Collect (BOPIS)?
Let’s begin by defining what we mean by the term click-and-collect. Also often referred to as BOPIS (Buy Online and Pickup in Store), click-and-collect is a model where shoppers make their transactions and purchases online and then pick up their order in a physical location, rather than getting it delivered to their homes.
Pickup locations for click-and-collect can vary. Usually, the pickup location is a local retail store, but it can also be a post office, a purpose-built locker, or even a different retailer’s store. Curbside pickup spots are also an option where shoppers pull into the store's parking lot and employees bring their products directly to their vehicle.
While many retailers began offering this service in response to the pandemic, there's no denying the convenience it brings to the buying experience. Given the popularity of click-and-collect during the past year, it seems safe to assume this is a service consumers will keep appreciating in the future as well.
Customers who buy their products online and pick them up in the store benefit from this fulfillment model's speed, low cost, and convenience. And now, with the additional concerns around health and safety, this model also offers a way to avoid shopping in crowded areas while still enjoying the advantage of local retail locations
Click-and-Collect: A Growing Ecommerce Strategy
US click-and-collect sales more than doubled in 2020, and Insider Intelligence estimates the US will sustain double-digit growth rates through 2024. Just over 30% of the population made a click-and-collect grocery order at least once last year. That equates to over 80 million people and represents a 67.7% increase over 2019. Insider Intelligence also estimates that US shoppers spent $72.46 billion via click-and-collect in 2020, accounting for 9.1% of all ecommerce sales. In 2021, those figures will likely increase to $83.47 billion and 9.9%.
Related reading: Trends Shaping the Supermarkets of the Future
Benefits of Click-and-Collect for Retailers
The benefits of click-and-collect from the consumer perspective are pretty obvious, but what is in it for retailers? Well, luckily, this shopping model comes with a number of advantages for retailers as well. Click-and-Collect benefits include:
For retailers, click-and-collect is extra beneficial in the case where the customer comes into the retail store to pick up their purchase. And the in-store experience is still a crucial touchpoint for retail chains looking to enhance their relationship with their customers. Click-and-collect offers shoppers an opportunity to browse and purchase additional items when picking up their online shopping orders.
An Optimized Delivery Network
Click-and-collect is also a way for retailers to optimize their delivery network. Since retailers already need to deliver items to their stores for replenishment, they can make more efficient use of existing vehicles and reduce transportation costs by providing items for in-store fulfillment at the same time.
Less Reliance on Third-Party Providers
With click-and-collect, retailers can potentially reduce reliance on third-party providers for delivery, making it easier to have visibility into the chain of custody and fulfillment flow.
A Safer Way To Shop for Both Customers and Staff
Click-and-collect allows customers to enjoy the familiar product and brand experience while limiting contact with other people in the store. It also reduces the number of contacts for the staff.
Provides a Better and More Flexible Customer Experience
This model does not mean any additional freight cost to the customer, which delivery might require. It can be launched quickly using existing resources and allows customers the flexibility to pick up the order when it's most convenient for them.
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Challenges When Implementing a Click-and-Collect Model
While click-and-collect is relatively easy to launch as a service even for smaller businesses, it does come with a number of challenges that you'll need to address. Some of the business and operational challenges include:
Sending The Customer To The Right Location
This one is perhaps not very complicated, but it's the most critical. Imagine the level of annoyment it would cause a customer being sent to the wrong address or having to pick up their items unnecessarily far away. The basics need to work entirely without friction for the click-and-collect model to retain its appeal.
Alerting Store Employees When Customers Have Arrived
For customers who choose curbside pickup, how will you make sure your employees know someone is waiting for their goods outside? You certainly don't want customers to have to call employees, as this makes the entire efficiency of the fulfillment model redundant.
Optimizing Store Operations
Getting things to work smoothly, and dividing attention between online customers and the ones visiting your store, can in some cases, present a challenge. Managing congestion, particularly during seasonal demand, is crucial to ensure a great customer experience. It is a balancing act to deliver a fast turnaround for pickup customers while also accommodating retail delivery and walk-in customers.
Related reading: Holiday Ecommerce – How to Prepare for 2021
Click-and-Collect vs. Dark Stores and Ship-from-Stor
As we've covered earlier in this article on Dark Stores, using your store to get products in the hands of your customer is one way that some retailers adjusted during the pandemic when they experienced reduced foot traffic and increased online sales. This model is called ship-from-store and is another way that retailers can justify the price per square foot of their stores, reduce the cost of ecommerce fulfillment and improve efficiency.
Both click & collect and ship-from-store can leverage existing staff and delivery networks. Both also require integration with your inventory management systems to have inventory visibility and know which retail location or micro-fulfillment center (MFC) should fulfill each order.
However, launching click-and-collect requires less operational change than ship-from-store. Delivery involves additional complex capabilities such as dispatching and routing. Customers and store managers need a way to track drivers. And, of course, the chain of custody gets tricky and will require digital proof of delivery.
Related reading: What Are Dark Stores? A Post-Pandemic Retail Model
Click-and-Collect and BOPIS Are Here To Stay
Moving forward, it will no longer be a question about whether or not retailers offer in-store omnichannel fulfillment models – that will be taken for granted. Instead, it will be a question of how good their fulfillment experience is compared to competitors.
Customers will want to pick up their orders when it's convenient for them. They will expect that once they get there, the order will immediately be ready for pickup, and the store representative will reach them quickly. In-store pickup is on its way to becoming fully commoditized. Today, the majority of retailers have implemented some form of buy online, pickup in-store option – even if it hasn't been digitized or automated yet.
Looking ahead, by 2024, US click-and-collect sales are estimated to reach $140.96 billion. Over that same time period, click-and-collect buyers will increase from 143.8 million people in 2020 to over 160 million in 2024.
Three key factors will fuel this growth:
- The increase in click-and-collect sales among mid-sized retailers
- The expanded adoption among digital buyers
- The increasing popularity of digital grocery shopping
Related reading: Ecommerce Personalization – Benefits, Tactics, and Best Practices
How Vaimo Can Help
At Vaimo, we're experts in digital commerce. We're a full-service omnichannel partner, and we're happy to help you with every part of the process—from strategy, design, development, and managed services to brands, retailers, and manufacturers worldwide.
If you're looking for a partner to guide you through the ins and outs of click-and-collect and BOPIS to help you understand how to make the most of the new ecommerce landscape, talk to one of our experts. We can support you in building and finetuning your ecommerce strategy, implement technical changes, and improve the digital customer experience and buying journey. Reach out today, we are here for you.