Brick & mortar retail is here to stay, but it has to evolve. The click & collect model is a best-of-both-worlds approach to retail.
Brick & mortar retail has survived this long, and despite what the pessimists say, we don’t think it’s going anywhere.
But you’d have to live in a cave to think it can last without significant changes to the business model.
Even prior to the pandemic, more and more buyers were turning to online shopping. Customers crave the convenience of shopping online, and brick & mortar businesses have to meet them halfway.
Click & collect is one of the most powerful and accessible ways to do that. It’s not just a passing trend during the pandemic — it’s the future of brick & mortar retail.
The click & collect model is an omnichannel fulfillment strategy that encourages online shoppers to pick up their orders in-store.
This approach has gone by a number of names, including BOPIS (buy online pickup in store), clicks & bricks, and click & mortar.
Letting shoppers choose to pick up their own purchases is more than simply a convenient option — it can help brick & mortar retailers overcome last-mile fulfillment challenges, increase sales, and thrive in an ecommerce-dominated world.
But why does the click & collect business model appeal to so many people?
Home delivery is the default setting for online shopping. Sometimes, it’s the best option. But bringing a package to a customer’s home remains an expensive (and possibly destructive) logistical headache.
Thanks to Amazon et al., customers expect “free delivery,” but delivery isn’t really free. Trucks, drivers, and the network that supports them all cost money, so someone has to pay for it — and if it’s not the customer, it’s the retailer.
There’s also an environmental cost. Research shows small and rapid deliveries produce way more carbon emissions than simply driving to the store to pick something up.
And despite same-day and next-day delivery becoming ubiquitous, home delivery is still slow, and getting slower. Even the most sophisticated last-mile infrastructure can’t outpace a customer just picking up a product at the store.
If the endless Zoom meetings and socially-distanced happy hours of the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that just because something can be all-digital, doesn’t mean it should.
Sure, you can buy almost anything online, but do customers want to?
Customers still want to go to brick & mortar stores, just not necessarily in the same ways they used to. Click & collect gives them the best of both worlds.
Click & collect combines some of the convenience of online shopping, like not having to pick items off the shelves and being certain that desired items are in stock, with the perks of in-store shopping, like being able to explore other inventory in a physical environment, ask questions about products, have pleasant human interaction, and visit nearby shops and restaurants.
One advantage brick & mortar has over ecommerce is the ability to drive add-on sales.
Helpful associates, beautiful displays, and well-placed inventory in the checkout line are all time-tested ways to drive extra purchases and increase average sale value.
Ecommerce has tried to mimic these strategies with pop-ups on the checkout page and other tactics, but many customers just find these annoying. Click & collect allows retailers to use physical strategies for driving add-on sales on ecommerce customers.
Does it work? According to one study, 59% of people said they were likely to purchase additional items when picking up their online orders. That means added revenue on top of money saved on home delivery.
It’s difficult to put numbers to the value of a real physical experience when it comes to building a customer relationship. But we think it’s common sense that customers feel stronger connections to real people and places than they do to websites.
If you’re also a believer in the power of in-person connections, it’s in your best interest to drive online shoppers to your physical locations. Doing so could increase brand loyalty and customer lifetime value.
Click & collect is an ideal way to do this, even if the customer is only in store for a few minutes picking up their order.
Of course, implementing a click & collect model isn’t like flipping a switch. It requires a change in operations and powerful software to make it happen, and you have to get the handover process right.
But for most retailers, it’s clear — click & collect is the future of brick & mortar.