Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Diary of a Digitally Disrupted Consumer: Form an Orderly Queue Please

October 27, 2016

Queuing is something the British love almost as much as tea. Which is probably why retailers make collecting goods ordered online or via mobile in-store so difficult. Click and collect has proven incredibly popular with UK shoppers – in fact, research published earlier this year by Campaign magazine indicates it changed the way 19% of consumers purchased in 2015. That means it drove more changes in shopping habits than smart phones or tablets and almost a quarter of online sales now use this fulfilment option (source:  ecommerce worldwide).

So why is click and collect so popular, and why, if it’s so popular, does click and collect still typically involve standing in a queue?
giphy (2)


The appeal of click and collect

It’s easy to see why click and collect is attractive. Prior to online shopping taking off, couriers simply did not serve domestic homes in the UK and the nation’s postal service, the Royal Mail, took a while to adapt its offering. Despite greater competition and major improvements in service, including delivery windows (choosing your own time slot is still rare) and track and trace, it’s still pretty hit and miss. And many businesses can’t or won’t support personal deliveries to work for employees.

Not only is home delivery expensive for retailers and couriers (especially for clothing and footwear where returns are high), it’s frankly annoying for shoppers. So getting your goods delivered either to a retail store (the most popular option), a network of collection points or increasingly a secure parcel facility is more appealing than waiting in for a parcel or finding an obscure collection location.

Wasted opportunity?

However, click and collect is also expensive for retailers, which is why many have implemented a minimum spend. But that doesn’t explain why collecting your goods in-store still in most cases involves standing in line at customer services while someone disappears into the warehouse to find your parcel, or spending time in a faceless holding area with no interaction.

Surely click and collect represents a ripe opportunity to either target promotions to the customer (whose contact info you hold from the online offer), or to showcase products, or both? Clever use of digital signage can easily promote in-store offers based on this or previous purchases, and promotions such as discounts or a simple free coffee in the store’s café can be very powerful when pushed through in real-time.

Future (digital) experience

Technology already exists (such as Cisco Connected Mobile Experience) that makes it perfectly possible to do this, and more. But to date, UK retailers have shown typically British reserve, reticent to overstep the mark in use of customer data.

That’s partly for good reason – research published by the UK Direct Marketing Association in 2015 showed that over half the population (54%) are ‘data pragmatists’ – happy to share information in exchange for better service, yet almost a quarter (24%) are ‘fundamentalists’ who are unwilling to share personal information regardless of any potential benefit. However, the same report showed that attitudes are changing.

As Christmas shopping, and hours queuing in-store to collect parcels, looms, here’s hoping that transforming the click and collect process into a more personalised and appealing customer experience is on more retailers’ wish lists.

Leave a comment