5 Reasons To Consider Click and Collect


One of the biggest drivers of shopper loyalty is the ease of doing business. Customers have little patience for any sort of friction when buying from a retailer.

Shoppers are well aware they needn’t put up with inconveniences – the after-effects of COVID-19 taught them that stores could be flexible and accommodating.

For instance, many retailers embraced a “click and collect,” strategy, also called “BOPIS”: buy online, pick up in-store.

Click and collect operations at the least are difficult if a retailer isn’t omnichannel.

With the rising importance of recent retail innovation in features such BOPIS to customers, omnichannel operations are now necessary to keep up with the fast-changing retail landscape. 

Retail Pro Prism makes it easy to achieve and customize the way your business does omnichannel.

At the time, homebound shoppers found the method irresistibly convenient: Online, they simply “clicked” to buy, but rather than have their purchase shipped, they headed to the store to “collect” it. Many retailers coupled the offering with curbside pickup.

Today, the COVID-19 shopping restrictions are gone, but customers want retailers to continue offering such conveniences.

While click-and-collect was offered prior to 2020, the economic lockdown that the pandemic created saw the strategy surge by 107% in 2020.

It accounted for $72.46 billion in sales, according to Business Insider, and that number is predicted to continue to grow steadily during the next few years.

With busy lifestyles and people reassessing how they want to spend their leisure time, click and collect will likely continue to be a key differentiator for retailers wanting to position themselves as more convenient than their competitors.

Here are five things to consider when building a competitive click-and-collect or BOPIS strategy.


1. Let data drive the understanding of omnichannel shoppers’ habits


female owner of fashion store using digital tablet to check stock in clothing store


Click and collect is an omnichannel retail tactic that lets shoppers pick up their purchases more quickly than waiting for home delivery.

Studies have also found that the strategy not only increases online buying, but it also bolsters in-store traffic, as customers often make additional purchases at pickup time.

Buying online and picking up in store (“BOPIS”) has significantly increased due to COVID-19: Research firm McKinsey reported in the early stages the global pandemic that BOPIS usage grew 28 percent year over year in February compared with 18 percent in January. The data gathered from these customers provides visibility into the type of BOPIS customer a retailer has, as well as what drives them into the store, and can provide a marketing roadmap.


2. Perform an audit of your software systems



The strategy requires sophisticated management software, which receives customer requests from the e-commerce platform. You may also need to upgrade your point-of-sale solution.

The OMS includes inventory visibility, order confirmations, alerts and updates, and distributes orders to the most local store with stock.

Pickup is automatically based on proximity to the address a customer has entered. The best systems provide personalized customer service and are seamlessly integrated, so store associates — as well as e-commerce customers — know what stock is currently available.


3. Real-time inventory is visible to all parties with click and collect



However, the stock needs to move from the shelf to the customer, so efficient in-store operations for “picking” orders are critical.

The real-time visibility across all channels, branches, and designated permissions gives associates the ability to track down an item a customer has seen online, for example.

Staff must be allocated to pick products from the floor without disrupting normal in-store sales.

However, other retailers set aside an area to fill and hold orders, rather than pulling them from the floor or inventory shelves.

Another challenge is ensuring product availability. Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can help create forecasts that consider click-and-collect purchases to get the right amount of inventory to the appropriate locations in a timely manner.

Inventory transparency can help avoid customer frustration: No one wants to arrive at the store expecting to pick up an item that was sold moments before because the inventory system wasn’t properly synched.

To avoid that, some retailers choose to have “safety stock” built into their inventory management software.


4. Consider the customer experience around click and collect



BOPIS with curbside pickup is convenient, but it can minimize the chances that customers will make additional purchases.

Retailers are looking to extend the reach of customer pickup with innovation. For example, by offering an express pickup desk, retailers encourage a trip inside.

Also, location-based text messaging can detect when a customer is arriving for pickup and provide an incentive to go into the store, such as discounts, loyalty points or an easy way to add in-store items to their pickup order.


5. The problem of returns


Beautiful woman shopping tableware in supermarket. Manager helps a costumer with a return, accepting the bag over the counter.


Though returns are a fact of retail life, streamlining the process makes it easier for the customer and less intrusive for the retailer.

Preventing them where practical is ideal; as a result, some clothing retailers are now providing an opportunity for customers to try on items before leaving the store.

Where trying on first isn’t possible, businesses are studying how to streamline the retail process.

Some ask customers to begin their return through the store’s website or mobile app.

Brick and mortars can benefit by enabling in-store returns of online purchases, as that drives store traffic and provides an opportunity to immediately recapture shoppers’ initial expenditures. Approximately 30% of Inmar survey participants said they “usually” or “always” stay in the store and shop with their refund money. 

A survey from Inmar found that most shoppers want to return in-store, largely due to the hassle of packing up a return.

However for the customers who prefer stores that allow them to make their return as quick as possible, retailers can provide an option so seamless it’s sure to keep them loyal with a small programing task to set up their systems for all future returns.  When the customer heads to the store, the associates are notified and provided with an exact time of arrival, and the customer is greeted upon arrival for a quick handoff or exchange.

Click and collect is a strategy that can offer retailers data that can inform their inventory selection and stock levels.

It helps customers see retailers as accommodating and flexible, and it requires planning and investment to be successful long-term.

When executed properly, friction is removed from the customer journey and it enhances the fulfillment process.

With a wealth of plugins available, Retailers can customize their omnichannel operations to offer return processes that are convenient for customers and work seamlessly with their retail and inventory management.


Read this article and many more on the RPI blog.