During Saturday evening’s briefing from UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, we heard some unfortunate news for the retail industry – that retail stores in England (and much of the country) will have to close as a result of another lockdown. But there was one small saving grace, curbside click and collect services are allowed to operate.
The lockdown announcement is a striking blow to the retail industry, which up until now has faced significantly reduced footfall figures, rapidly evolving government regulations and widespread changes to online and in-store shopping behaviours.
Now, right before the Black Friday and Christmas holiday shopping season starts, and the government has made the decision to close stores as well as pubs, restaurants and leisure centres during a four week lockdown. The one positive takeaway from this is the Prime Minister’s transparency around click and collect services. In his briefing, Johnson said:
“I’m afraid non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed – though click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open, so there is no need to stock up.”
During the first lockdown where shops were shut from the end of March through to the middle of June, this wasn’t as clear of an option and many retailers had no choice for immediate customer fulfilment or for getting their in-store stock out to their consumers.
How retailers can create a contactless click and collect services during lockdown
Over the last few months a number of prominent retailers have started offering curbside click and collect services, including Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Currys PC World, Pets At Home and Dunelm.
These services have become incredibly popular with consumers. According to Qudini’s September survey of 2,000+ UK consumers, 69% of consumers find curbside click and collect services useful. This increases to 86% for GenZ consumers and 79% for Millennials.
In general, this is how the process normally works:
- A customer arrives at a retail store and parks in a designated click and collect car park.
- They check-in via their mobile phones by clicking on a link in their order confirmation email, scanning a QR code or texting a code via SMS.
- Store staff are alerted of the customer’s arrival and prepare the order.
- A store associate brings the order out to the customer at the car park, identifying them by their licence plate number or car description (part of the check-in process).
- Customers are asked to open their car boots beforehand, so that the experience is 100% contactless.
With quality click and collect software, the service is easy for store staff to manage, it’s quick for customers to collect and it’s completely contactless keeping customers and store associates safe.
Currys PC World used its stores as stock rooms for curbside click and collect during the last lockdown
In the final few weeks before the last lockdown ended, major electronics retailer, Currys PC World, used its stores as local stock rooms to power its contactless curbside click and collect service.
At the time, many major retailers were up against a common challenge – they had a huge surge in e-commerce demand but their stock was stuck in local stores rather than at their distribution centres.
Currys PC World used its stores as local distribution services by providing a curbside click and collect service from 300+ stores using Qudini’s click and collect check-in software.
3 tips when creating a contactless curbside collection service
1) Allow customers to check-in from a range of different methods
Most customers (especially younger ones) like to have option of checking via a range of different channels instead of just one. So make it possible for customers to check-in to collect an online order by texting a code, scanning a QR code, clicking on a link in their order confirmation email, or through a store host or kiosk.
2) Allow customers to collect on foot
Not everyone owns a car or has easy access to one, so make it possible for customers to collect online orders by waiting outside the store. As weather conditions deteriorate, it might be worth allocated sheltered areas as designated on foot collection spots.
3) High-spending consumers want click and collect, too
Click and collect isn’t just a service for supermarkets and department stores – luxury brands should be offering the service, too.
Our new study of 2,000+ consumers found that 89% of consumers with a household income between £150k to £300k per year want curbside click and collect.
Get your in-store staff to provide virtual service
Another great way to make the most of your team during the lockdown is by offering virtual services. A lot of retailers have started offering virtual services whereby their customers can connect to their store associates by video while online shopping. Doing so is having a massive impact on their ability to drive online sales while stores are closed.
For example, one of Qudini’s client has found that 95% of their virtual appointment time-slots have been booked up every day.