Click and collect used to be the preserve of a few stores like Argos, where it evolved from the catalogue collection system. Now it’s everywhere. As retailers expect it to expand still further in 2017, it’s time to look behind the scenes at just what makes it so popular.


Why customers love it

Whisper it: not everybody likes shopping. When there’s no time pressure and the weather is good, it can be fun to wander round the shops with friends, but in many circumstances consumers really prefer to shop online. There they don’t have to do the legwork and it’s often easier for them to find exactly what they want. That said, choosing to shop online doesn’t mean that they’re happy to wait for delivery or to trust delivery companies not to mess them around. A click and collect option means that they can pick up their purchases at their convenience.

In addition to this, many people still feel insecure about shopping online. Some retailers using click and collect offer the option of paying in store. In other cases, just the fact that they have a bricks and mortar store makes the customer feel more secure, because it lowers the risk of a hoax being perpetrated.

Why retailers love it

Click and collect gives traditional retailers an edge over online competitors who don’t have high street stores, and is one of the most effective ways of persuading people who like shopping online to return to using traditional stores. By increasing footfall it increases the chances of customers making impulse buys in those stores, whilst they still have the option of making impulse buys online, thus doubling a company’s chance of making extra sales. A poll of US shoppers carried out over the Christmas period in 2015 found that a third opted to use click and collect, with 69% making additional in store purchases as a result. This increases the importance of identifying items attractive to impulse shoppers and setting up attractive displays close to the collection point.

Where it’s going next

Last year, a poll by research specialists at Atomik found that almost 19% of shoppers said click and collect had changed their shopping habits. Experts think that this figure has a lot of room to grow. 28% of shoppers say it makes online retail better and, as more and more retailers adopt it, they’re getting used to the idea and building it into their shopping routines.

The biggest challenge to click and collect is coming from a decrease in delivery times, with Amazon Prime now offering deliveries in as little as an hour. Other advantages remain however, and even customers who have already paid for items often like to see and touch them at the collection point before they consider the deal sealed.

Improvements in inventory systems are making stock management easier, which is helping to streamline the click and collect process and reduce associated costs. As the system gets over its teething troubles, it can offer an increasingly smooth service to customers, and it looks set to gain an increasing share of market dominance.