The effects of the pandemic have been far-reaching, touching everyday aspects of peoples’ lives – including both how they shop and where they shop.
Predictably, online shopping has gone up. According to the Commerce Department, ecommerce retail sales jumped 44% in the second quarter of 2020 to $201 billion, compared to a year earlier.
Perhaps surprising is that during this time of uncertainty, consumers have not remained loyal to tried-and-true brands, and instead are shopping around. According to an August 2020 McKinsey survey, 46% of U.S. respondents said they tried new brands or made purchases with a new retailer during the pandemic.
3 Ways to Create the Retail Experience Customers Want
With shopping behaviors changing quickly and brand and retailer loyalty up for grabs, you need a strategy for winning new customers, retaining current customers and keeping both groups coming back to your stores again and again. That means leveraging e-commerce and building out in-store systems to create the click-and-collect experience that customers want.
While this experience begins online, it ends in your store and that’s where you have opportunities to stand out and create an unparalleled customer experience that is: convenient, fast and easy.
1. Be Convenient
The first rule of click and collect is that it has to be convenient. No customer wants to trek to the back of your store to an obscure location and search for their order. Customers need click and collect to be almost seamless. If it’s not, they’ll opt for home delivery or try one of your competitors.
Depending on your business type and location, you’ll want to offer as many convenient types of pickup as possible. These may include:
- Curbside or designated parking spaces for pickup
Many customers don’t want to leave their vehicle – either for convenience or for social distancing reasons. Make sure you address their needs with contactless pickup outside your store in designated zones that have clear signage directing customers where to park.
Located either in-store or just outside your doors, lockers are a smart and secure contactless pickup option. Some lockers can even be customized with hot and cold zones for fresh food pickup.
- In-store pickup stations
These stations should be located near the entrance of your store and clearly marked to ensure maximum convenience for customers. If you have a small footprint or need seasonal flexibility, choose a mobile impulse pickup station that can flex with your evolving needs.
2. Be Fast
Customers want to get their orders within minutes of arriving at your store. You achieve speed by being organized and efficient, and you can make that happen in a couple of ways:
- Utilize a picking station
Convert underutilized store space into a dedicated picking area for high-volume SKUs. This tactic will allow you to quickly access your fastest-moving click and collect SKUs to fulfill customer orders.
- Set up a staging station
This is the area where you put together every component of a customer’s order. For fresh orders, you can implement a staging station with sections for both hot and cold storage. This high level of organization greatly reduces the time it takes to get orders into the customers’ hands. The staging area also presents opportunities for branding your click and collect program and for promotional messaging. Plus, an attractive staging area creates an uncluttered and more pleasing shopping experience.
- Pick multiple orders at once
Picking is typically the most time consuming (and expensive) step in the click and collect process. Streamline picking by using dedicated picking carts that have the ability to segment orders so that multiple orders can be picked efficiently at the same time.
3. Be Easy
For customers, the click and collect process should be intuitive. That means they know exactly where to go and what to do as soon as they arrive at your store.
A recent McKinsey survey found:
“Organized and easy-to-navigate stores are even more appealing as many people seek to spend as little time as possible mingling with others in public spaces. The significance of this rose in every country by 7 to 14 percent in June, as compared to March.”
The best way to ensure customers have the information they need is by using clear signage. In the parking lot, this signage must direct customers where to park for curbside pickup and it must be durable enough to stand up to inevitable fender benders. Inside the store, signage should not only be clear but should reinforce your brand.
Bonus Tip: Anticipate Your Customers Needs
What do customers need to make their lives easier? If they’re picking up a click and collect order in the evening, maybe it’s a take-and-bake meal. At the holidays, maybe its wrapping paper. Whatever these items are, make sure to place them near the pickup point and make it easy for customers to purchase them by equipping staff with POS devices.
Mobile impulse stations are a great way to capitalize on these last-minute, high-margin purchases while differentiating your click and collect program. Customers will love that you’ve anticipated their needs, and you’ll love the boost to your bottom line.
Win by Putting the Customer First
Building a click and collect program that puts the customer first doesn’t just make sense in the short term.
According to McKinsey research:
“Companies that invest in and deliver superior customer experience during a downturn emerge far stronger than their peers once the economy rebounds, producing shareholder returns three times larger than average.”
Differentiating your click and collect program by focusing on what customers want – convenience, ease and speed – will leave you well-positioned for long-term customer loyalty and growth.
Deliver A Better Click and Collect Experience
We’re here to learn about your challenges so we can help you build total retail solutions that improve profitability and the customer experience – both today and as you build the store of the future. Contact us today!