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December 9, 2016

Have you ever ordered an item online and waited eagerly to receive it, but missed the delivery date since you had to step out urgently, or were late from office? Bummer! Well, its not uncommon for online shoppers to miss deliveries of their purchases and receive the disappointing Sorry, you were out! message from e-tailers. During the holiday shopping season of 2014, in UK alone an estimated 225,000 parcels each day failed to arrive when promised, and last year approximately 60% online shoppers faced problems with the delivery of items due to loss or damage.Enter Click and Collect option for online customers.

'Click and collect' or 'Buy online and pick up in store'

An increasing number of online shoppers are choosing the option of picking up their purchases from a physical store. Once customers complete their online purchase they are notified by the e-tailers, usually within the same day, when their items are ready for collection from a nearby store. The rise in popularity of click and collect option among customers can be largely attributed to minimal or waived delivery charges, convenience when schedules are unpredictable, and also easy returns – as the delivery locations are nearby, especially the corner shops acting as collection points. Customers hate waiting for their purchases and worrying if they will be home when they are delivered. They would rather pick them up on the way home from work, gym, etc.

The physical stores, or collection points, in turn benefit from the increase in footfalls and the additional purchases made by the click and collect consumers. In UK, almost two-fifths of consumers make an additional purchase when collecting an online order from stores.

Tie-ups with Third Party for Serving as Collection Points

A large number of physical retailers that also have an online presence like John Lewis, House of Fraser, Ikea, etc. are now providing the collection facilities for their online customers at their nearby stores. For instance, in UK John Lewis has only about 40 stores, but with click and collect it can now reach customers who do not have a physical store nearby by visiting its sister company outlet, Waitrose, to pick up the items bought online. This adds 300 outlets.

But whats being seen as truly disruptive in omni-channel retail is the unusual partnerships emerging between some online and offline retailers. Earlier this year, Wm Morrison, UKs Supermarket chain, tied up with Amazon Fresh to become the collection point for the online stores grocery customers. This has been a rising trend in the country where an increasing number of supermarkets and grocers are partnering with online retailers or parcel services companies, to serve as pick up points for items ordered online from other retailers. Collect+, the courier services company in UK, has signed up over 5000 local convenience stores and corner shops, in return for a small fee, to serve as collection points for retailers like Amazon, eBay, House of Fraser, Asos, etc. The reason behind big super markets and even small time grocers striking click-and-collect partnerships is to utilize the excess floor space and, drive more footfall and sales in stores.

The "Green" Factor

With more than 260 million parcels expected to be delivered during November and December 2016 in US alone, and 41,500 vans needed to deliver these parcels, the increase in carbon intensity due to delivery services in this period becomes a pertinent issue. According to analysis from Doddle, a parcel services company that works with retailers and ecommerce organizations, switching to a click and collect service would reduce the number of delivery vans by 78%, thus removing 32,369 vans from the roads every day and reducing carbon emissions equivalent to planting 12.8 million Christmas trees during the holiday season.

More than 50% of UK shoppers have used the click and collect method in the past year, according to JDA & Centiro survey conducted in April 2016. Though US has yet to catch up in terms of consumer preference to this trend (only 27% consumers are using this service), as cited in a survey by Boston Retail Partners, a consulting firm, 41% of US stores currently offer a “click and collect” option, and that number is expected to double by 2018. As retailers strive to become omni-channel, to converge the physical and digital buying journey of customers, click and collect provides yet another means to bridge the gap between the two different worlds of shopping online and offline.

Aditi Roy Ghatak is Digital Marketing Content Strategist with the TCS Digital Software & Solutions Group. She has extensive experience in technology research which includes upcoming trends in the digital, social and information technology field and analyzing their applications across businesses. She also has prior experience in market intelligence activities which included studying industry trends to identify potential business opportunities and has been responsible for segment and account based marketing. She has published articles on enterprise cloud applications across industries and digital as well as social media trends. She covers current topics and digital trends in the e-Commerce and customer analytics space on the Because Digital blog.


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