Retailers that prioritise omnichannel fulfilment will be better equipped to deal with peaks in trading that events such as Black Friday bring.
Since its introduction, click-and-collect has proved popular with customers as a convenient – and often cheaper – alternative to home delivery.
So much so, in fact, that John Lewis this week revealed that more than half of its customers (56%) opted to collect their online orders in-store in the run-up to Christmas, with click-and-collect overtaking home delivery as the preferred fulfilment option for the first time.
The other major trend that defined the Christmas retail period was the move towards earlier discounting inspired by the Black Friday experience in the US.
However, John Lewis’s Managing Director Andy Street has warned that this might not be in retailers’ best interests, as intensive discounting and trading bring their own challenges. This year Black Friday volumes put pressure on retailers due to high web traffic and the subsequent increase in deliveries.
Managing volumes at peak times
These two issues are related; click-and-collect allows for more efficient use of existing stock and resources, which can help to alleviate strain during peak periods. While click-and-collect isn’t a miracle solution to the capacity problem, it does help retailers to better manage volumes at peak times by incorporating high street staff into fulfilment.
“The success of click-and-collect this Christmas highlights how retailers are looking to get the most value out of their high street footprints”
Michael Kliger, eBay
Retailers can also benefit from this increased footfall by assisting consumers with other purchases while they are in-store; eBay research shows that three quarters of click-and-collect shoppers make further purchases during their visit to pick up their orders.
If high-discount sales events such as Black Friday are truly here to stay, this ability to upsell to customers will become more valuable not only as a way of recouping margin but in helping bricks-and-mortar retailers to remain competitive with – if not outcompete – online pure-plays.
The success of click-and-collect this Christmas highlights how retailers are looking to get the most value out of their high street footprints, with more moving to an omnichannel model that gives a new strategic importance to store networks.
Increase in ship-from-store
This trend is set to continue in 2015 as the adoption and use of in-store fulfilment solutions such as click-and-collect and ship-from-store increases and more brands find innovative ways to improve the customer experience.
It is very likely that we will see more partnerships and collaborations between non-competitive retailers, such as House of Fraser’s recent collaboration with Caffè Nero, and more online pure-plays looking to take advantage of omnichannel opportunities by teaming up with established high street chains (take eBay’s click-and-collect partnership with Argos, for example).
John Lewis has earned a reputation for being among the top omnichannel retailers in the UK, and Street’s comments are certainly compelling.
The retailers who prioritise omnichannel fulfilment will be better equipped to deal with changing peaks and troughs in trading volumes as consumers continue to look for the most convenient delivery options.
Not only do omnichannel initiatives improve delivery, they also drive significant business efficiencies.
- Michael Kliger is vice president, international, at eBay Enterprise