Scotland is the latest to announce tightened restrictions on click and collect, requiring the service to be used for essential items only and to take place solely outdoors.
During the nationwide November 2020 lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson endorsed the use of curbside click and collect services for retailers. However, with Covid-19 cases continuing to soar, the government is now clamping down on all potential contact points deemed unnecessary, and click and collect has come into the crosshairs.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that only shops selling essential items, such as clothing, footwear, baby equipment, homeware and books, will be allowed to offer click and collect. She also pointed out that collections must be outdoors, with appointments staggered to avoid queuing.
Retailers offering click and collect services need to start thinking seriously about what steps they can take to increase customer safety in case similar measures are enforced across the UK and Europe.
Curbside click and collect is a proven way for retailers to drive greater online sales while stores are closed. Even when stores have been open, consumers have been largely avoiding them, with many preferring to collect online orders from outside of the store. Retailers implementing these services now will benefit beyond just this lockdown period. Our recent survey of 2,000 UK consumers has found modern consumers wanted these types of services outside of the pandemic and that Covid-19 will act as a catalyst for retailers to implement these new omni-channel services.
Here’s how retailers can ensure their curbside click and collect customer journeys are safe, quick and contactless.
1) Eliminate physical queues for click and collect
One of the main safety concerns with click and collect journeys is queuing. Customers arriving at or outside of stores to collect orders can be asked to wait in queues for long periods of time while their orders are being prepared, which poses an unnecessary threat to customers and passers by.
A good antidote to this problem that has proved especially popular is virtual queuing – where the customer joins a queue on their mobile phone and receives real-time updates when it is time to return to store as well as an estimated wait time and a position in the queue. This means customers can wait in their cars, or go for a walk, and return when it is time to collect their orders.
This is a service that luxury department store retailer, Selfridges, is currently offering at its London store. Customers join a virtual queue via QR code and receive an SMS when it is time for them to return to the collection point. But Selfridges also gives its customers the option to preselect a specific date and time-slot to collect their orders, and they can also collect via its drive-up option, where they are guided to a designated collection point in the car park and their orders are delivered directly to their car boots.
2) Make collection points outside only
To make the click and collect service safe for customers and employees, it’s also worth making your collection points outside of store. As a result, many leading retailers have collection points set up directly at their store entrances and are delivering orders directly to their customers’ car boots.
Prominent electronics retailer, Dixons Carphone, offers a fast drive-through curbside click and collect service across 300 of its Currys PC World stores. This enables customers to buy products online and to collect them from the car park using Qudini’s virtual queuing technology.
Customers arriving at a store can check-in by accessing a weblink in their order confirmation email or through scanning a QR code at the front of the parking bay. Once checked in they receive their queue position by SMS and a live smartphone webpage that counts down while they wait.
A store associate then locates the customer’s order and drops it into the customer’s car boot, enabling the customer to drive in and out of the store without getting out of their car. The Qudini software enables customers to have an entirely safe and contactless pickup experience that is both efficient and engaging.
3) Replace physical contact with virtual communication
It’s also worth replacing contact points with virtual steps. For instance, instead of asking customers to check in with a member of staff to collect an order, allow them to check-in virtually on their phones to let store staff know they have arrived.
UK pet supplies retailer, Pets At Home, uses Qudini’s click and collect check-in software to allow customers to check in remotely from outside the store or in the car park.
Customers arriving at stores to collect their online orders are able to check-in from their phones, informing store teams that they have arrived, who then locate and prepare their orders and bring it to them. Meanwhile the customer will receive SMS updates and an on-screen countdown while they wait. The system offers customers a fast and convenient collection experience that encourages them to return more frequently.
Pets at Home also encourages its customers to use this service with effective promotion on its packaging.