Click and collect transport hubs

shutterstock_58999798Click and collect transport based sites are growing in fashion among the retailers.

Rail and underground tubes stations are now the latest sites that time-short consumers can conveniently collect their online shopping from. In fact using stations as hubs for internet shopping may well be the best option for both the consumer and the retailer as the handy shopping service is upping sales too for some retailers. Asda reports that customers using its click and collect service are shopping twice as often and buying 16% more per shopping compared to shoppers using other Asda collection points, with fresh food being the most popular purchase.

The most recent retailer to join the click and collect trend is the fashion store French Connection. The retailer is testing the water with a pop-up store called ‘F’ that will be open for four months, covering the Christmas season, in London’s Old Street underground tube station. French Connection has just a four hour product turn-around time from order to collection with products ordered online before 1pm available to be picked up after 5pm that same day.

Meanwhile, Asda, the first of the grocer retailers to spot the potential of the London underground as a pick up point, is already doubling its click and collect London underground tube station sites, going from six to twelve in the last twelve months. Asda’s product collection turnaround time is also just four hours with orders placed online before noon being available by 4pm the same day. Mark Ibbotson, Asda’s chief operating officer said: “Asda has led the way on providing new ways for our customers to shop, and given the popularity of the existing service, creating more sites across the capital was the next logical step”.

Other retailers getting involved in the click and collect transport site action include Tesco and Waitrose for the tube stations, and Asos and New Look for the railway stations via a company called Doddle.

For those retailers not willing or ready to invest wholly in click and collect, Doddle, may well be the collection (and return) service that will fill in the gap. Tim Robinson, CEO of Doddle said: “Most of the people who travel by rail, to big cities, aren’t at home during the day. They have that ‘sorry you were out’ card when they get home. There is a big opportunity to fill that gap.”

Network Rail said 30 million people, equivalent to 59% of British consumers, now use click and collect services, a rise of 7 million in six months. As a result, over the next three years consumers will see Doddle sites popping up around railway stations across the UK that can be used to collect, try on and return purchases. “You don’t actually have to take the goods home. You can try it on here and send it straight back,” adds Tim Robinson. A Doddle spokesman described the service as allowing “consumers to combine collections and returns from multiple retailers into one trip at a time that suits them or coincides with an already planned journey.’

Companies including Argos, CollectPlus, MyHermes and The Post Office are also getting in on this trend. Ebay plans to make use of the Argos outlets, while Amazon is currently working with Doddle.

In general, recent figures from IMRG and Capgemini reveal that almost 1 in 5 (19%) multichannel online sales are now click and collect. Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG said: “What we are seeing happen with click and collect is increasing consumer adoption driven by widespread retailer promotion who clearly feel that the convenience of the option can enhance the customer experience…Retailer adverts often list ‘online | mobile | in-store’ as the potential channels for engagement; ‘click and collect’ is the latest staple regularly appearing in that list.  Based on the level of growth seen during 2013 we expect click and collect sales to account for at least a quarter of multichannel online sales by the end of 2014”.

Meanwhile Planet Retail claims that 35% of UK consumers who shop online, click to buy and then go on to have the goods delivered to a suitable location. But by 2017, the number of click and collect consumers will soar. Natalie Berg, Global Research Director at Planet Retail commented: “Click & collect is poised for explosive growth in the UK. Shoppers are already accustomed to browsing and transacting on their own terms – choice in fulfilment is the final piece to the puzzle. Within the next three years, we’re expecting more than three-quarters of online shoppers to collect their own items…Two of the biggest barriers to buying online are cost of delivery and inconvenient delivery times, making click & collect an increasingly attractive option for both shoppers and retailers. Fulfilment is poised to be the next big battleground in retail.”

However, Planet Retail also warns that retailers aren’t doing enough to cater to this shifting shopping behaviour. Despite the UK being a hotbed for click & collect, only two-thirds of the Top 50 retailers currently offer the service. What’s more, only 14% offer more than one collection option (i.e. instore collection, locker, third party stores).

“Retailers should be readying themselves for this massive shift in shopping behaviour and thinking beyond traditional collection points. Train stations, schools and even shoppers’ own cars could be the collection points of the future. Retailers must be prepared to forge relationships with some unconventional partners in pursuit of better serving the customer,” Natalie Berg added.

Right now a number of technologies familiar in the retail space support the click and collect services such as traditional and mobile EPoS payments tills, barcode scanners and printers, weighing scales, mobile devices for e-receipts, digital status screens and self-service kiosks. The collection points themselves also offer secure lockers some of which are temperature controlled which are more suitable for the grocers that deal with food and drink purchases.