How To Launch Click And Collect: A Guide for Retailers

Click and Collect has been on an upward growth trajectory since before the pandemic, although the lockdown did make curbside pick-up more popular. To give you some perspective, it is estimated that by 2022 click and collect sales will increase by 55%! So if your business hasn’t already adopted Click and Collect, now’s the time to leverage this omnichannel model to expand your revenue streams.

What Is Click and Collect?

Click and Collect is a shopping method where buyers place their orders online but pick them up from physical locations. It’s similar to a takeaway order, except the orders are processed online and typically in advance.

Click and Collect is also known as Buy Online, Pick Up In-Stores (BOPIS), and Curbside Pickup. Here, buyers can pick their orders in-store or from a designated location like the curbside. Curbside pick-up became especially popular during the global pandemic, as businesses could more safely resume operations by minimizing physical interactions with customers.

So how do you create a click and collect experience for your customers? Let’s take a look at 4 key steps in the next section.

click and collect

How to launch a click and collect service

There are a few things you should do when you’re starting a new click and collect service so you can save yourself some time and headaches in the future. The following steps will help you get started.

Creating Click And Collect Policies

If you’re looking to implement this process successfully, it’s essential to outline viable policies for both employees and customers to follow.

Determine and communicate order fulfilment SLAs

Some necessary Click and Collect fulfilment SLAs (service level agreements) you need to iron out include:

  • Advanced Time Allowances. How many days in advance are customers allowed to place their order for curbside pick-up? It’s important to set reasonable time frames that your pick and pack teams can work with. Otherwise, you might suffer from inventory management issues and delayed orders.
  • Payment Options. If you’re offering both cash on delivery and online payment options, defining clear SLAs for each method is crucial. In online payments, customers have more incentive to show up and collect their orders. Conversely, customers are more likely to abandon pay-on-site orders. So, it’s vital to outline liabilities in case orders are left unpicked. We suggest taking payment online when possible.
  • Return policy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies revamped their return policies to accommodate customers better. However, unlike home delivery, Click and Collect lets customers physically view and check the orders, reducing the purchasing risk. Thus, it’s essential to update your return policy to accommodate BOPIS orders.

Consider scheduling pick-up time windows

Scheduling pick-up time windows gives retailers more control over Click and Collect, making it easier to manage inventory, logistics, and human resource allocation. To better understand how scheduling windows help, let’s consider how your daily operations might look without specific pick-up times.

If you don’t allocate specific timeframes, customers can schedule any time during your operating hours. This inconsistency means pick-up will be different every day, and your staff will have to prepare orders in advance for pick-up accordingly. Think of the pick and pack challenges that might arise—your employees may become overwhelmed, especially if there are many customers in the store who need help.

So, to get the most out of Click and Collect, consider allocating specific timeframes during which customers can schedule their orders. Having an organized routine will help your staff manage orders and inventory accordingly.

Physical Space Considerations

For customers, the draws of Click and Collect include zero shipping fees, quicker order fulfilment, and convenience. You’ll need to meet these expectations and provide a high-quality shopping experience. That likely includes:

Designate space to store items

Your staff should clearly separate pick-up inventory from typical store inventory. Otherwise, you risk selling off the products to walk-in customers and running short on stock. Additionally, designating a storage space makes it easy for your in-store team to locate the items quickly when customers arrive for pick-up.

Create a counter or area for customer interaction

BOPIS customers value a good experience, so they won’t want to wait in long lines for their orders. To make it easy for them to pick their orders up, and check them if needed, create a designated area for Click and Collect customers to interact with staff members.

Another reason why customers prefer Buy Online, Pick Up In-Stores over home delivery is because they can physically view and check the items. This works out for retailers, too, because you can resolve any problems on-site, reducing costly return requests. Having an exclusive counter for these customers makes it easy to resolve these problems quickly.

Consider nearby storage or warehouse spaces

Click and Collect customers expect fast fulfilment times. To fulfil these expectations, retailers need to optimize pick and pack times and make sure they have the required inventory on-hand.

To make sure you can fulfil orders on time, consider nearby storage or warehousing to reduce the time it takes for inventory to reach your store. Additionally, if you’re offering curbside pick-up from an off-store location, you can benefit from nearby storage too. Or, perhaps your store just does not have adequate capacity to store these order items.

If you’re allowing users to order online, make sure to connect your EPOS and your eCommerce systems, this way you’ll be able to keep track of stock and prevent issues with fulfilment.

Overcoming Inventory Challenges

As an omnichannel model, Click and Collect presents inventory challenges that increase as businesses strive to deliver better customer experiences. For example, in its simplest inception, a BIPOS model should allow customers to place orders online and schedule pick-up times.

To provide these simple options, eCommerce businesses have to track available inventory and make sure it’s ready for pick-up at the agreed scheduling time. You’ll also need to integrate the order status into your POS system by setting criteria for order completion.

For example, if customers pay online but pick the order physically, each milestone will need to be processed separately. And if customers have the option to pay at pick-up, you’ll need to outline separate milestones.

Some businesses take Click and Collect to the next level by offering customers more options, like allowing them to have part of their order delivered while they pick up the rest. Providing more options increases customers’ experiences, but you can imagine the inventory challenges that arise. Orders will have multiple criteria for completion – including partial and complete fulfilment.

Thus, to successfully execute the omnichannel model, eCommerce brands need to optimize inventory management and supply chain processes. The best way to fulfil these goals is to…

Choose and implement inventory management software

As your business grows, using inventory management software becomes a necessity. Management systems also help effectively deliver omnichannel experiences like picking up online orders in stores.

If you’re looking to offer customers Click and Collect, look for a robust inventory management software that integrates with your eCommerce store to track inventory and update product listings in real-time. The software you choose should also come with:

  • Advanced inventory tracking and demand forecasting to balance inventory levels and track orders. The right software will help you set accurate reorder points to prevent shortages and stockouts.
  • Kitting recommendations—i.e., which products sell together best, helping you reduce fulfilment times.
  • Automation is critical for optimizing fulfilment operations and delivering better customer experiences.

Employee Training

We’ve stressed the importance of delivering good customer experiences because it’s essential for customer retention and building a sustainable brand. Beyond the technical and organizational steps to improve Click and Collect experiences, it’s also vital to train your employees for the new model.

Don’t expect your regular employees to be equipped for new models like this without dedicated training—the landscape is quite different. For BIPOS shopping, your employees should be trained in:

How to process, package, and checkout orders

These processes are different for Click and Collect because while the orders are processed online, they’re ‘complete’ after pick-up. Your staff will also need to pack orders in advance, so they’re ready for the scheduled pick-up time. Since many customers choose this for the quicker fulfilment time, it’s crucial to avoid delays.

First, you’ll ideally have some cloud-based software solution that’s integrated with your store. This allows employees to track orders, see which items to schedule for pick-up (especially if you’re providing hybrid delivery and pick-up options), and mark orders as ‘ready’ so customers know to pick them up.

You’ll also want to make sure employees are trained in Click and Collect checkout, especially if customers can pay upon arrival. Your staff should differentiate between prepaid orders and those with pending payments and update information in your POS system accordingly.

Additionally, it’s important to outline a clear procedure for employees to follow if customers don’t collect their orders at the agreed time. You might want to instruct staff on:

  • How long to wait at the location past the agreed time.
  • The follow-up procedure—if customers are late, how long should your employees wait before giving them a call?
  • How long to store late orders. Some businesses adopt a 7-day policy, where customers can reschedule a pick-up time within a week. However, the feasibility of this policy depends on your resources and products (for example, perishable items cannot necessarily wait that long).

How to handle orders that can’t be found

Sometimes, customers may show up expecting an order that your staff can’t find details in the system for due to technical issues. It’s important to train your employees for such cases and outline a clearly defined procedure.

Should your staff check the in-store inventory and put the order together on the spot? Or should they offer to have the order delivered in a few days? Training your staff on the appropriate protocol is essential because if customers have a poor experience, they’ll likely switch retailers.

Summary

Introducing Click and Collect is a great way to increase your sales and deliver better customer experiences. But, to benefit fully, it’s important to implement it properly.

Make sure you define clear SLAs and best practice policies, account for physical space considerations, optimize your inventory management, and train your employees to handle Click and Collect orders.

If you’re interested in selling online and using click and collect, get in touch with our team. We would be happy to discuss the best options for your business.


About the writer

Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfilment warehouse that was born out of eCommerce. He has years of experience in eCommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

  • Share

All Posts

Prev. Post

Influencer marketing for retailers – grow your business with influencers

Next. Post

How to write killer ecommerce product descriptions that help you sell more