With peak season fast approaching we spoke to Mike Richmond, chief commercial officer of Doddle Parcel Services, for his tips on how to prepare your click and collect services to cope.
ED: Why is the click and collect trend continuing to grow?
MR: “Because in today’s tough retail environment it’s becoming crucial to the survival of some high street brands – driving footfall and in-store purchasing.
A recent report by Global Data showed that amongst 10 of the biggest multi-channel retailers in the UK, Click & Collect was consistently responsible more than 25% of online sales. But the real value comes in conversion in store. Across those 10 retailers, 41% of customers go on to make additional purchases in-store with an average basket value of over £20. With figures as compelling as those, there should be no limit to how hard retailers push to get online customers collecting in-store.
In the case of a Click & Collect offering like ours in Debenhams stores (where customers can opt to send parcels from 50 + retailers including Amazon, ASOS and Missguided to their nearest Debenhams store), Click & Collect can also drive an entirely new demographic into stores. Our analysis suggests that a third (37%) of Doddle customers are new to Debenhams.”
ED: What’s the advantage of driving customers to store?
MR: “Conversion is a tangible instant benefit but a longer-term and equally valuable benefit is brand engagement. If a retailer gets the store experience right, they can dramatically increase brand loyalty and customer lifetime value. Stores are a unique selling point multi-channel retailers have against their online-only contemporaries, so if a customer walks into one, retailers should be using every tool they have to engage with them.”
ED: What’s the benefit of third party locations over stores for retailers?
MR: “One word – convenience. In our early days our model was based around dedicated stores but we soon discovered that whilst we were successful at converting commuters to adopt our services because we’d put a great service into their daily routine, only a relatively hardcore of regular online shoppers were able or willing to make dedicated journey to collect or return parcels.
Now, alongside a carefully selected number of dedicated stores in high traffic train station locations we’re rolling out across the Morrisons and Debenhams store estates. This means our service is now available in the heart of communities and in the middle of city centres, where we know there’s consumer demand. Additionally, for customers of those stores, we’re providing a valuable service that they can use with no disruption to their weekly routine.
One stat we’re particularly proud of is that 41% of Doddle customers and 57% of Doddle fast fashion customers collect their parcels on the day they arrive in store. That demonstrates the convenience of the service.”
ED: What is best practice?
MR: In our experience, it’s all about an obsessive focus on the digital experience and creating seamless customer journeys.
It’s crazy how many customers using Click & Collect today are still confronted with paper-based systems or a requirement to print labels when both are huge barriers to customer loyalty.
All communication also needs to be timely, relevant and simple. Consumers are bombarded these days and only want to receive necessary information served in a way that makes their life easier. Now when we alert customers to the fact their parcel is on its way, we let them know where their nearest Doddle locations are and our new Android and iPhone wallet passes will even serve up the relevant collection codes the minute they walk into the shop, so they don’t have to search for emails.”
ED: What retailers are driving innovation in this area?
MR: “Some of the best examples of innovation are overseas. For instance, Target in the US are really leading the way with services like ‘instant’ Click & Collect, fulfilled from store, and drive-up Click & Collect.
Sports Direct have taken a novel approach in the UK by charging customers £5 for in-store Click & Collect but then offering a £5 voucher to spend in-store in return. I’d love to see a retailer try that on a free Click & Collect offer. That would an exciting and potentially game-changing case study in behavioural chance via pricing incentivisation, and its impact on a retailers P&L.”
ED: How can retailers improve the click and collect experience?
- Make it fast (consider automated services like drop-off services for returns)
- Make it digital (with Wallet apps that make collecting and dropping off parcels hassle free)
- Make it personal (carefully curate bespoke, tailored offers to maximise conversion once that customer is in-store)
ED: How can retailers optimise ahead of peak?
“If this delivery channel is as important to them as it should be given its potential value, investing in a scalable, digital, customer-centric Click & Collect service is a must.
Many retailers are using Click & Collect services that have been developed in-house, over time and that simply aren’t fit for purpose when it comes to offering customers the slickest experience or when it comes to exploiting the potential rewards of offering a great Click & Collect service. To put that in a somewhat extreme context, I know of at least one major retailer that still calls customers when Click & Collect parcels arrive in store. That’s not something customers expect in 2018.”
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