Click-and-collect, Free Delivery & Easy Returns

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How does your final-mile stack up in 2019?

The 2019 Multichannel Retail Report highlights convenience and customer experience as the keys to success in the future of retail.

The report describes 2018 as a turbulent year across the board. With closures and trouble for some of the big names, SMEs can use omnichannel to their advantage. Many smaller retailers are free from stakeholder / financial encumbrance and have more organisational agility. In his introduction to the report, Ampersand’s CEO notes that:

“The real winners in this year’s report have integrated the digital and the physical. They have invested in convenient delivery, speedy click & collect and easy returns”

Retailers making deliveries to consumers using their own vehicles have a distinct advantage. They can control the final-mile delivery experience. They can leverage logistics to give consumers that convenience and customer experience. By offering a range of final-mile options (at a range of price-points), those retailers can make the buying experience truly omnichannel.

The offering stands out, based on quality and service at the point of delivery and collection.

Click & collect

Click and collect is a major move towards convenience and customer experience in delivery. Click & collect represents a paradigm shift for online shoppers. It offers the experience of online shopping, with the convenience of instore collection. No need to waste time either searching instore for the goods you want or waiting at home for them to arrive.

For retailers making two-man, white-glove type deliveries (like furniture), or delivering goods that involve a fitting service (like inbuilt electrical appliances), click and collect may not be a viable model.

For omnichannel retailers, with bricks-and-mortar stores and online channels, click-and-collect can be ideal. It offers a way to improve customer experience and convenience, whilst taking the pressure off your delivery operations. 72% of UK shoppers currently opt for Click and Collect. That represents huge potential. Click & collect deliveries are made to just a few stores – where you’d likely be making deliveries anyway). That saves the resources involved in planning and then delivering to individual home addresses. You also cut the risk of delays and missed deliveries that goes hand-in-hand with DTC.

Free Delivery

Free delivery is now expected as the norm for many online shoppers.  Half of those surveyed by MetaPack said that they no longer expect to pay for standard delivery.

Offering free delivery as standard might sound like a huge cost to retailers. Free delivery can actually represent a number of advantages and opportunities:

  • More sales. Free delivery may entice more product sales to the most price-sensitive consumers:
    • Entice customers to spend with you instead of with your competitorsBigCommerce reports that offering free shipping reduces the likelihood of consumers shopping elsewhere
    • Be the key difference between a sale and a cart abandonment. Extra costs, like shipping, are the most common reason for cart abandonment
    • Incentivise consumers to spend more, to take advantage of a minimum spend ‘free delivery’ option. In their 2018 Annual Retail Survey, KPMG note “a widespread tendency for consumers to irrationally increase their spending in response to marketing of ‘free’ goods”, including shipping. MetaPack’s also reported that 75% of consumers will buy more items to qualify for ‘free’ shipping
  • Opportunity to upsell delivery services. By offering free delivery as standard, you can also upsell convenience to those willing to pay. Over 60% of consumers are willing to pay for next-day or same-day delivery. The Ampersand report shows that, while free standard delivery is on the rise, the average cost for priority services is going up.
  • If you have the right systems in place, delivery needn’t be a cost sink-hole. By planning efficient routes and properly communicating with customers to minimise missed deliveries, as well as offering premium delivery services at a steep cost for those who want the convenience, switching to a free-delivery-as-standard model can prove profitable.

Convenient returns

Whilst 75% of retailers now offer return-to-store as standard on all goods, only half offer free returns by post. 72%, meanwhile, offer free returns by collection.

This shift is interesting. The retail sector is experiencing something of a returns tsunami, and try-before-you-buy is an essential option for many of today’s consumers.

With ship-from-store and direct-to-consumer, the lines between online and offline are becoming blurred. Retailers are adopting an omnichannel model.

To be truly omnichannel though, that cross-platform synergy must continue post-purchase. Customers want the option to return instore, by post or by collection.

Retailers need to offer no-questions-asked returns, at the right location & price-point. In this way, retailers can offer the ultimate in customer experience and convenience. This, in turn, results in brand loyalty, trust, and increased market-share.

Omnichannel retailers are facing the pressure to stand out in today’s retail landscape. They need to offer the best in convenience and consumer experience – for minimal cost. This means giving customers options like click-and-collect, free delivery and convenient returns.

Retailers won’t be seen as truly omnichannel until service experience and convenience are prioritised at key touch points. Delivery, collection and returns are some of the only touch points for digital and online shoppers. They’re arguably the most important touch points in the sales cycle: the moment when goods are actually exchanging hands.

Stream Go is a customer-centred logistics system, which can help retailers to deliver customer experience and convenience in a cohesive, and truly omnichannel way.


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