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Is the UK a nation of click and collect ‘pioneers’?

1st Sep 2014
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Earlier in the month, the UK government’s High Street minister, Penny Mordaunt declared a change in the law that will allow shops to construct click and collect facilities on their own premises without need for planning permission.

According to IDC, the announcement is the latest in a series of public and private sector moves designed to turn Britain into a nation of click and collect ‘pioneers’.

Royal Mail recently confirmed it was rolling out its own “click and collect” Post Office service to 20,000 British small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), while a number of retailers such as Asda and Amazon have set up their own click-and-collect facilities in public locations around the UK including car parks and abandoned underground ticket offices.  

35% of the UK’s online shoppers are already using click and collect services, however this is expected to double in the next three years, and provides a contrast to other leading European nations that appear to be lagging behind in providing the same level of omnichannel service to the public.

IDC’s research states that the UK is the most mature country as far as omnichannel is concerned. Major players in the industry (Tesco, M&S, Asda, H&M, Burberry, Halfords, Argos, and Asos, for example) have been among the first companies in Western Europe to set up more than one delivery service option online, in order to offer their customers the best delivery experience based on their needs.

By comparison, only a small number of retailers in specific retail segments such as consumer electronics currently offer click and collect in Germany, while only the largest, international retailers (Zara, El Corte Inglés) offer anything by way of alternative deliver in Southern European countries such as Italy and Spain.

France is the closest to the UK in terms of click and collect offerings, with retailers including Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc among a number of brands jumping on the bandwagon. Innovatively, French retailers have also been some of the first to offer ‘drive-through’ services for click and collect, an idea UK brands have yet to fully exploit.  

However, while the UK government has seized the potential for click and collect facilities to revive the High Street and bridge the gap between online and bricks-and-mortar retail by relaxing certain laws, the French government is currently evaluating the possibility of forcing retailers to pay for a click and collect licence ("Loi Duflot"), which could potential stifle future expansion.   

“The UK is emerging a leader in the development of click and collect services due to a number of factors,” says Miya Knights, senior research analyst, EMEA, IDC. “It’s already ahead in terms of the ecommerce growth – research carried out by industry bodies Ofcom and IMRG both indicate that globally, UK shoppers spend the most online as a percentage of total retail sales; and, as a result, it has a relatively mature market in terms of those High Street retailers that have already developed an ecommerce presence online.

“The UK was also an early and widespread adopter of credit and debit card payment facilities, as well as the card-not-present security mechanisms and distance selling regulations, creating an environment of consumer trust within which ecommerce sales could flourish. Given the geographic density of our High Streets, retailers have gone on to embrace click and collect as way of maximising ecommerce investments by driving online customers into their stores. Consumers like it because it offers them a cheaper and more convenient fulfilment option, while retailers can also exploit the added potential to increase conversion rates and basket size, as well as boost store footfall.”

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