Click and Collect: Blend Digital and Physical Commerce For Your Customers

An illustration showing an online purchase on a mobile device and physical storefront.
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An illustration showing an online purchase on a mobile device and physical storefront.

The pandemic showed the need for retailers to go omnichannel — provide multiple ways for customers to buy from them, instead of only in-store or only online. 

The numbers don’t lie—54% of consumers are likely to research a product online and buy it from a store and 53% would do the reverse, research a product in a store and then order it online.

Click and collect is a perfect example of blending ecommerce and physical retail—you order online and then pick up your order from a store.  

This article covers what click and collect is, how it's beneficial for retailers, and how to get up and running with click and collect.

What is click and collect?

Click and collect is a purchase model where customers buy a product and pick it up from a nearby physical store. It’s also known as Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS for short), or Curbside Pickup. 

While BOPIS and click and collect are pretty much the same, curbside pickup is a little different. Instead of store pickups in a click and collect model, customers who opt for curbside pickup have their orders brought to their vehicles in designated parking spots by store staff. 

Benefits of click and collect for retailers

Here are the biggest advantages of having a click and collect purchase option for your customers:

1. Encourages cross-selling

If you’ve ever gone to the store to collect your online order and purchased an additional item because of staff recommendations, in-store deals, or product placement—you're not alone.

Cross-selling is one of the most significant advantages of click and collect. According to McKinsey, cross-selling techniques increase sales by 20% and profits by 30%. By introducing click and collect, you can increase your revenues and decrease your customer acquisition costs. 

2. Capture customer demand faster

Click and collect offers another purchase option for your customers, making it more convenient for customers to shop how they want.

Click and collect is especially useful in cases where your customer might want to urgently purchase a product, like a last-minute purchase for a trip, for example. It’s convenient for making same-day purchases instead of waiting multiple days for the item to be shipped to their door. 

3. Savings in shipping costs

Click and collect is a more margin-efficient method of getting your products to your customers. 

The last mile of your product’s delivery is more than half of your total shipping costs. Click and collect helps you avoid shouldering this cost for a subset of your orders, which can contribute to improving your margins. 

4. Higher cart value

On average, click & collect customers have an 11% higher cart value than online shoppers. It’s easy to see why — when customers don’t have to pay for shipping, they can afford to spend on more items from you. 

Is click and collect the right strategy for you?

You need to make a couple of considerations before deciding to implement a click-and-collect model for your store. 

Customer Proximity

If your customers don't live within a 5-mile radius from your retail stores, it’s unlikely that they may opt to purchase with click and collect. Sky-high fuel prices mean the further your customer is, the more likely they are to choose home delivery options over click and collect. 

Consider sampling your delivery data and foot traffic in your brick-and-mortar locations to address this. You’ll be able to identify whether you have enough customers around each location to justify implementing a click-and-collect model. 

Product Assortment

Your product assortment has a major influence on whether you should implement a click-and-collect strategy. If you’re a retailer that deals with primarily bulky and oversized items (ex: furniture), you may want to save your customers the hassle of picking up your products and skip click and collect entirely. 

IKEA is the exception that proves the rule here. They compete in the furniture space on price, so they’re able to attract price-conscious customers to pick up their orders with their click and collect service. 

How to execute a click and collect program effectively?

When you offer click and collect as a purchase option, you can optimize your customer experience. Here’s how you can execute the click and collect model the right way.

1. Setting clear expectations for order pickup

Once your website is live, set a process for managing orders and letting customers know about how they can pick up their orders. A few points you need to remember are:

  • Clear guidelines: What notifications will the customer receive, and how will they get notified? When will the order be ready? Give detailed instructions and guidelines to follow for picking up an order. 
  • Pickup instructions: Can the customer send someone else to pick up the order? Do they need to wear a mask? Sharing step-by-step pick-up instructions help both you and the customer to ensure a seamless transaction.
  • Pickup due dates: The pickup date could be the same day or a couple of days later. Be sure to specify your timeframe and notify the customer when the order is ready. 
  • Pickup location: Mention the pickup collection point and how to pick products up—do customers walk into the store to pick up the order or simply wait in their car at a specific parking spot—sharing these details helps avoid confusion and ensures a smooth order pickup. 

If you sell any products such as beauty products or apparel with a high return rate, you can provide a safe place for customers to try them on. This will help you decrease the return rate effectively.

This order confirmation email from Home Depot clearly shows when, where, and how to pick up a Click and Collect order at their store.

2. Designate space in your store

Once you have a clear process to accept and fulfill the order, the next step is to designate a space to store active click and collect orders until customers pick them up. 

Choose an easily accessible place for your customers that’s clearly designated and easy to find. If you decide to store orders in a stockroom, make sure it doesn't distract sales associates from attending to your in-store shoppers.

3. Create a pickup procedure

After designating a storage space for orders, create the process for how the customer will collect them. If your store has high-volume visitors, it would be best to have a separate queue at the checkout counter for pick-ups.

But if you have a smaller store with few employees, having one regular checkout line can be the best option. Once you've decided, make sure you use clear signage to let customers know where to go to collect their online orders.

Design your pickup process to be as simple as possible. Validating your customer’s order ID and the products in their order should be enough to hand over their items and continue with the next customer. You want the process to be as frictionless and smooth as possible.

4. Educate your staff

Hold an in-store employee training session after you have finished setting up a system for gathering, managing, and delivering click and collect orders.

Run through a few tests to ensure they've understood and are comfortable with all the process and take time to field their questions.

5. Gather feedback from customers and employees

After implementing click and collect orders, collect feedback from your customers and employees to improve the process. One of the best ways to do that is with post-purchase email surveys. 

Customers don't have to stand in a line and chat with your employees. They can provide their feedback from the comfort of their home.

How can dropship and virtual inventory supplement a click and collect program?

Virtual inventory and click and collect can work well together to provide a smooth purchase experience for your customers. 

For example, your virtual inventory system can share how many SKUs of a product are available at their nearby location. If stock is running low, customers can choose to make a purchase quickly and collect their order when it’s convenient for them.

If a SKU is out of stock in a customer’s local store, your virtual inventory system can calculate the estimated date by which the product stock will replenish and can suggest a pickup date to your customer.

Alternatively, you can offer a dropship option of a similar SKU to your customer with an estimated delivery date and an additional shipping fee. 

A third option is to provide same-day delivery to your customers, provided they bundle products to hit a minimum order cart so that your margins stay unaffected by their orders. 

Home Depot’s product page is a good example of how all these options can be surfaced to customers in real time. It helps them make purchase decisions that are most convenient for them. 

Ready to implement click and collect for your business?

Click and collect is a great example of meeting your customers where they are. Some of them might prefer home delivery, but others may prefer the convenience of placing an order on your online store and picking it up in their neighborhood location. It’s also a higher margin model for you since you don’t have shipping costs with click and collect. 

If you don’t have click and collect implemented in your business yet, it’s a great time to get started. Your customers will thank you for it. 

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