Why click and collect?
Few would argue that the main limitations of shopping online are the cost, speed and timing of delivery. In some cases, the cost of delivering a lower value item can exceed the cost of the item itself or if you require express delivery or your items are very large, costs can also be extremely high. Another issue is that many consumers with full time jobs are usually not around at a time when deliveries are normally made. If you are able to collect your goods from the retailer at your convenience, these issues don’t exist.
Despite these drawbacks, shopping online has many advantages. Shoppers can research products by browsing a huge number of stores from the comfort of their own home and at a time that is convenient for them. It’s also argued that online retail delivers better value for the consumers because there are fewer overheads connected with distribution and it’s easier for them to compare products. The click and collect concept enables you to take advantage of the benefits of shopping online, whilst being able to get immediate access to the goods at no additional cost.
The introduction of the smart phone now makes it possible to do all this on the move, which means that the demand for click and collect is likely to grow substantially. According to a recent survey by online research company, OnePoll, one in five smart phone owners now shop through mobile apps and spend an average of £30 a month. In total, it’s estimated that £581 million per year is now spent through apps by UK consumers.
Integration is the key
The case for click and collect is compelling. If you’re fed up going to your local high street for a specific product and discovering it’s out of stock, click and collect means you can check and purchase before you leave. But delivering this sort of service to the customer hinges on whether the retailer has complete visibility over its stock.
For click and collect system to work effectively, the information held about the products at the store or collection point needs to match the information available to the customer on the website. With the help of GS1 standards, retailers can accurately identify their products at every stage of the supply chain from the warehouse to the shop floor and the customer. Using the standards as building blocks, the retailer can create a system that enables it to locate and monitor stock levels and share this information with the customer. It means that when the customer buys a product online, he or she can know whether the product is available and where in real time.
A global trend
While click and collect is quite a new phenomenon in the UK, it’s increasingly being used in other countries. A recent report found that around a third of US retailers are planning a similar service. While most retailers in the UK offer online shopping, effective click and collect services are still rare. With the help of GS1 standards, it’s anticipated that more retailers will be able to benefit from integrating online and offline stores.