Click & collect has fast become a matter of basic hygiene for retailers. It makes sense. The stats support it, some of our clients are seeing up to 40% increase in uptake since January. It’s a great service of convenience for the consumer. Click & collect is also brilliant catalyst for focussing on the challenges retailers face in becoming multichannel. It’s an even more important factor as we again approach peak trade. According to a recent Econsultancy report on 2013 Christmas trade;
45% of online consumers used reserve and collect over the Christmas period, which underlines the fact that retailers need to cater to customer demand for convenient delivery services.
The tier one retailers have these monolithic organisations and retail footprints that warrant significant investment into in-store technologies to facilitate a multichannel offering and make use of every consumer touchpoint. But they also have vast numbers of legacy systems that need to talk to each other -and large numbers of employees on the ground and throughout the business. This creates its own problems as the relative size of the beast means that the ‘digital transformation’ or ‘cultural shift’ that needs to occur to allow multichannel to flourish – is an exponentially bigger challenge. This challenge although far more substantial than in smaller businesses is also glaringly apparent (adapt or die), so there is a focus from board level and a real understanding that the elephant in the room can not be ignored. Multichannel Directors are brought in to effect business change.
In the mid tier retailers the problems are less gargantuan, but just as real. Generally the ecommerce function/digital business is finally maturing and has its own dedicated budgets. In some cases ecommerce is still wrangling/wresting some spend/control from brand- but getting there. Multichannel heads are being appointed in some but not all of these businesses and their roles (to paraphrase- as the Multichannel Director of a global supermarket chain told me) is to be the ‘agitator between departments and individuals’. It’s hugely apparent that retail specifically, has to break down these siloed (buzzword bingo) and legacy ways of working before multichannel can be a realistic proposition. It’s all about organisational change and adapting to the new demands of consumer expectation. What it’s not is- simply appointing someone with a title and assuming they can work multichannel voodoo and fix the problem. You need board level buy-in and a personality that’s empowered and confident enough to impact people, processes and technology across the business. Not all organisations can change though and it will be interesting to see which ones fall off the cliff, which ones just pay lip service to the challenge of multichannel and which ones employ the right change makers.
JOYLAB can help. The fail fast, agile R&D processes we employ identify bottlenecks allowing us to begin defining solutions (keep an eye out for our soon to be published Econsultancy best practise guide on agile in-house R&D). We’re an impartial third party able to drive change. We’re not subject to internal politic, nor are we motivated by one individual business need or objective. We want to improve performance right across the business – not a single channel. Something like click & collect if done properly has the ability to be implemented with some strategic thinking and planning – while adding a huge amount of value. If like The Entertainer – a recent client of ours, you’re using your own stores for the service, click and collect of course needs some consideration around;
(A) timely awareness of your stock
(B) ideally the same of store stock if you want to offer same day collection
(C) setting up the infrastructure at your stores
And even if you use an existing service like collect plus, you still have hurdles to overcome with your own infrastructure for sure.
Click & collect highlights where there are further logistical, stock and warehousing issues. Something that can be a fairly quick win then makes retailers stop and think about longer term strategic issues across the business units. Eg; these postcode lookups are costing me x amount because my platform provider didn’t factor in this requirement when we signed on the dotted line. As an aside it makes me wonder what needs to happen in the world of the platform providers to help retail evolve. Tech always seems to be a ball and chain to retailers rather than a facilitator of innovation – funny that.
Delivery/returns/logistics are nothing new – they’ve always been key factors in terms of customer satisfaction and conversely in terms of business cost and infrastructure. Click & collect is also now nothing new – the customer’s expectation is that the service will be available in the checkout flow. A great thing is that widely adopted innovations such as click & collect and those others driven by consumer need/expectation – have the added benefit of creating industry wide awareness. When it becomes an issue for all then the hive mind (and those servicing the market ie us) sets to finding a solution and creating positive learning for all.
We’re helping multiple retailers take a strategic look at click & collect and how it fits into their existing digital estate. How we can test and optimise the journey within the site – re-designing for a fluid experience, and how we can plan for and resolve the resulting ramifications across the business channels. It’s not without its challenges, nothing is in multichannel. Each brand has it’s differing audiences and objectives (something we can also help research, identify and prioritise) and of course it’s forever fun/interesting finding workarounds within the parameters of the various technical platforms.
According to my colleagues my last post seemed to give off an air of frustration. Think that may be an ongoing trend, at least to my posts. It’s part and parcel of the job; uncovering bottlenecks and pain points- finding solutions and resolving issues. When you can see the industry surrounded by them, it’s difficult not to become impatient sometimes. Thankfully – 99.9% of the time, there’s a light and a happy client at the end of the tunnel. If you want to join that 99% get in touch on the below…