John Pincott, Managing Director, EMEA
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How to Beat the Decline of the High Street – Getting Click and Collect Right

29th Jul 2016
John Pincott, Managing Director, EMEA
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The British high street in 2016 is a turbulent place. With each month that passes the British Retail Consortium (BRC) releases figures that suggest the high street is suffering, with a reduction in footfall year on year reported in February, March, April, and most recently, June. However, in the past six months we have seen some light at the end of the tunnel, with an increase of 1.2 per cent in January and a small increase in May.

One interesting trend identified through the BRC is the move towards online purchases that are collected in-store. Chief Executive, Helen Dickinson claimed online sales was the cause of the rise in retail footfall in May, stating: “…it’s online, rather than stores, that has driven May's sales upturn. Footfall up and store sales down gives credence to the trend of an increasing use of the high street for leisure activities and the researching of purchases made online either later or on the move through mobile devices.”

This is both good and bad news for retailers. While on one hand some consumers are still enjoying spending time shopping on the high street, stores are facing an ever-more digitally demanding consumer. Being able to seamlessly tie together online and offline is crucial in making the most of this opportunity, and those retailers that don’t will be cast aside. However, according to KIBO’s Buy Online, Pickup In Store study, 94% of retailers, suppliers and logistics firms surveyed haven’t executed a long-term omnichannel strategy, and 37% don’t even have one.

In-store pickup is where online and the high street come together most efficiently. But it’s not just about buying online and collecting, research from KIBO found that 67% of UK consumers do their research online before visiting a store. The same survey also found that more than a quarter of British consumers expect in-store pickup next day as standard, highlighting that the physical store has an important role to play.

There’s no doubting that the journey to a full omnichannel customer experience is a long one, however getting it right and driving customers to buy online and collect in store can be achieved in four fundamental steps.

1)     Shopping on the mobile app

As Helen Dickinson (CEO, BRC) rightly points out, shoppers are increasingly using mobile platforms, but KIBO’s Buy Online - Pickup In Store study found that less than half of retailers including Apple, GAP and Foot Locker actively promote in-store pickup. In-store pickup functionality needs to be built-in to a mobile offering and easily visible to entice the customer into making the decision to purchase. This simple addition to the Mobile App or mobile-friendly website will highlight this hugely popular method of delivery to the customer.

2)     Check-out process

It may seem straight forward but many retailers are not getting it right. Slow and clunky systems lose sales whereas slick processes such as Apple Pay which integrates directly with the Trainline App, for example, is what customers are looking for. 

3)     Post-purchase communication

This is the retailer’s chance to show off the omnichannel experience – the App, website, text service and store all work in sync to make it as smooth as possible for the customer. Order acknowledgement and collection alerts help put customers at ease and drive the customer to the store. Dominos are great at this – once you have clicked order, you can track your pizza at every stage until you collect it or it comes to your door. There’s no wondering where your order is or questioning why it hasn’t arrived yet.  Each of these touch points gives the retailer the chance to provide further repurchase enticements while providing a great service.

 4)     The in-store collection experience

Empower your staff. Mobile point-of-sale platforms give staff the ability to edit an order at the click of a button, add additional items and make suggestions. This is not only good customer service, but also maximises additional revenue opportunity through driving impulse purchases when they are in-store. This works particularly well with fashion retailers because of the huge variety in products – and complimentary items that can be upsold. It is hugely important because these customers are furthest along in their buying cycle – they are aware of the brand, have a need and have actually made a purchase. If the retailer can identify the right opportunity to engage with these customers then it is by far the easiest way of increasing revenue. Finally, the store needs to be set up for it, with clearly labelled areas so the customer knows where to go and does not have to queue.

With high street footfall and purchases in decline, stores need to make sure they not only provide a level of service that makes people want to return, but that the revenue opportunity is identified and maximised. Acknowledging these four steps and taking actions to offer a service that ties customers online and offline needs together will undoubtedly be a major factor in how successful the British high street is. Buy online, pickup in store will continue to evolve and customers will find themselves relying on it more and more as the number of positive experiences grow, customers continue to have less free time and word of mouth spreads. Retailers that offer the most comprehensive on and offline offering will be the ones that emerge as the most successful.

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