These days many customers prefer to buy online and pick up in-store. So what does a retailer have to consider to ensure the delivery of a great click and collect customer experience?
In recent years, click and collect has become very popular to the extent that it is now a vital offering for any large multi-channel retailer. With home deliveries not offering convenient delivery times or affordable prices for a same day or next day deliveries, customers nowadays prefer to order online and collect it in-store later.
In 2015, 73% of the UK online shoppers used click and collect  and one in five said the service changed the way they shopped . This is evidence of how significant it is for retailers to offer the service and to get it right.
So what does a retailer have to consider to ensure the delivery of a great click and collect customer experience? Here are top ten tips on how to succeed:
1. Promote the service
It might be obvious, but if you want customers to use click and collect, promote it. If the service is not properly displayed on your website, how are customers supposed to benefit from it? Make it visible on your home page, product pages, basket pages and throughout the whole checkout process. The same applies to your mobile site and app. Take for example John Lewis, who state clearly that they provide click and collect as a service:
Source: John Lewis website
Advertise click and collect in-store, too.
2. Ensure it works across all devices
In times when customers use multiple devices to place orders, retailers need to make sure that they have a stable, consistent presence both online and offline. Barclays  predicts UK customers will spend £53.6bn a year using their smartphones and tablets by 2024. This means that retailers have to ensure they have a well-designed, responsive and easy to use desktop site, mobile site and mobile app with a smooth running click and collect service.
3) Allow users to check local stock availability
Providing customers with information about stock levels is essential. Customers want to know if you have the items they want to buy in their preferred store. It saves the frustration of going all the way to that store and finding out that the item they viewed online is not available. Additionally, if the stock level of a specific order is low and customers can see that, it can push them towards a purchase.
You can also suggest alternative products for the items that are out of stock. There is a chance the customer is buying a gift for somebody else and does not mind buying a similar item instead.
4) Be clear about timings
Customers do not want to waste time and wait around in a store. That is one of the main reasons why they prefer click and collect over home delivery. Tell them if the order will be ready later that day or tomorrow after 5 p.m. They have to know when they have to be there to pick it up.
5) Don’t charge for the service
Customers always want to pay as little as possible. They will not spend extra money if they can get the same product from your competitor for free. The diagram below supports the fact that free click and collect is the main reason for choosing the service.
Source: OC&C Strategy Consultants
6) Include clear instructions on how to use the service
Explain to the customer how the service works, including details about payment, collection times and location. Send them a confirmation email with the order details. Once their order has been placed, have a regular contact with the customers - send them emails or SMS messages when the order is ready.
7) Have a dedicated service desk
Customers do not like queuing. Having a dedicated click and collect service desk makes it easier and quicker for both customers and staff members to manage online orders. This applies especially for large stores.
8) Combine with location technology
Location technology in combination with click and collect can streamline your customers’ shopping experience. Staff members can be alerted when customers are in-store to collect an order. Customers can be notified when their order is ready in real-time.
In the meantime, whilst waiting, customers can receive push notifications about discounts and offers currently available. This encourages them to spend more money when in-store and increases retailers’ revenue.
9) Deliver quick and efficient in-store service
When customers arrive to collect their online order, state clearly where the collection desk is. Prepare their orders and have an easy way to locate them. As mentioned above, location technology can help with enhancing the process and giving customers the service they want. You can even provide navigation to customers (via your app) on how to get to your store and where to go within the store.
10) Offer different collection options
Not tying up customers to visit your store in specific working hours is a good strategy. Having dedicated click and collect stores/lockers at train, tube and gas stations is a way of enabling customers to pick order at their convenience. Many of the biggest retailers, including Amazon, John Lewis, Asda and Waitrose, give customers the opportunity to collect their orders from special collection points 24/7.
Find out how Localz' order collection solution makes life easier for retailers and customers: