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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail.

Innovations in ubiquitous click & collect

Everybody has to offer a delivery option nowadays it seems. Before the internet hit the retail scene home delivery was largely the domain of the big book catalogues but with online ordering from pure-plays the need for deliveries became essential to many more retailers.

Such has been the growth in online sales that retailers needed to develop alternatives to shipping warehouses full of boxes to people’s homes. The final mile proved to be the final straw for many frustrated shoppers waiting at home for their perennially-in-transit parcels.

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There’s no escaping it

The clever people at Argos created click & collect (C&C) service that is now almost ubiquitous – 39% of online orders in the UK over Christmas involved delivery to a store for collection by the customer.

Such has been its popularity in fact that everybody is getting in on the act – including some rather unlikely candidates. Starbucks’ pre-order and pay app is nothing more than a C&C derivative and now we hear McDonald’s is exploring the introduction of just such a service in the UK.

This would follow a trial in the US where C&C is linked to the company’s app (just like at Starbucks) and was used for collection in-store and at some of its drive-through outlets. KFC and Gourmet Burger Kitchen are also offering C&C.

Now that pretty much everybody is offering the service – or at least investigating implementing it – we are seeing the next generation C&C services emerge. The aim seems to be to smooth out the collection aspect in-store that has been problematic of late. The final metre has become an increasing issue as volumes through C&C have increased.

House of Fraser introduced a virtual queuing system from Qudini that involves shoppers checking in on a touch-screen in-store and receiving a text message giving them an estimated wait time and a link to watch the progress on collection of their item.

Another similar service – from Collectec – uses Beacon technology to enable communication with the customer in-store to update them on the status of their collection. John Lewis is trialling the use of Beacons at its Peter Jones store – through Localz.

The technology won John Lewis’ JLAB incubator initiative and is being tested by store employees to speed up the C&C experience. This follows the company revealing that C&C was involved in a hefty 56% of its online orders over the Christmas period.

So while we hear of failures in the delivery space and couriers under great pressure the reality is that retailers of all persuasions are keen to offer a variety of delivery options and with mobile and Beacon technologies they are exploring ever more innovative ways to service the customer.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.