“Click and collect,” sometimes referred to as “buy online, pick up in store,” will be a significant factor this holiday. According to an International Council of Shopping Centers survey, 36% of 2016 U.S. holiday shoppers who made purchases used click and collect, a figure that has been steadily growing as shoppers explore fulfillment options most convenient for them.

Yes, despite the shrinking tolerance for the chaos of in-store holiday shopping, there is still a critical role for physical stores to play.  Shoppers search with precision online, and pick up their merchandise at the store of their choice, on their own terms. They have the peace of mind that they’ll get their merchandise on time and, just as important, safely.

 Consider that almost one-third of Americans said they had experienced porch thefts of delivered packages, according to a 2017 Bain report. These thefts are part of the reason Amazon is delivering to car trunks and is being granted access to people’s homes to drop parcels. The retailer benefits from click and collect as much as the shopper does. How? Shoppers assume the “last mile” delivery costs and, once they’re in the store, they are more likely to purchase additional items, increasing average order value.

It’s a clear win for both retailers and shoppers. But brands must get a click and collect program right before the holiday peak approaches. Retailers need to be very clear in all aspects of communication related to click and collect even before the order is placed. 


Before the order


Your shoppers should know as early as possible that picking up in store is an option. So make sure your site includes the following:

• A very clear FAQ on how click and collect works (preferably integrated into product detail pages in a pop-up or modal window).

• What online products are available to pick up in store; this should be stated on the product detail page.

• An option to choose which store to pick up merchandise.

• An option to change from traditional shipping to click and collect in the checkout funnel.

• An option to choose a notification method (e.g., text message, email) to alert the buyer when the merchandise is ready to pick up.

• An incentive for picking up in store such as a small discount, a free gift, or discount off the next order.


After the order


It’s incumbent upon you to set the initial expectation that an order will not be ready for pick up in store the moment the shopper hits the buy button. To ensure a smooth experience for your shoppers:

• Give them an update with the status of their order and provide an ETA on when it will be available for pick up.

• Make sure the customer receives an alert when the order is ready.

• Make sure the customer knows exactly how and where to collect the order, including what identification they need to pick it up.

• Provide the address and directions to the store, including links to maps, phone numbers, and store hours.


In the store


Part of the reason click and collect often falls short is that stores are not set up to service online shoppers. When an online order comes in, who is responsible for fetching it from inventory? Do those associates abandon in-store shoppers to fill online orders? Where do online shoppers pick up their orders? Should they expect to wait in line with in-store shoppers? Based on what we know that works, your stores:

• Need to have trained and available staff ready to process online orders.

• Should have a dedicated area for online pickups, with clear signage near the store entrance.

• Should not make online shoppers join a catch-all customer service line.

• Should consider curbside pickup, or short-term dedicated parking spaces, for online shoppers.


Behind the scenes


For maximum success, don’t forget these crucial pointers:

• Ensure that safety stock values are added to each inventory item by store to ensure that click and collect orders are fulfilled and not canceled.

• Turn off click and collect during high-traffic days such as Black Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays during holiday peak, to avoid inventory discrepancies between offline and online.

• Set up order thresholds to manage order volume being sent to each store.

Creating a successful click and collect program is all in the execution, however, and bringing new shoppers into the store will require more creative ways to engage them. As we head into 2019, expect to see more online retailers partnering with big brands (think Amazon and Kohl’s) to offer click and collect services. You’ll also see more B2B brands offering click and collect options.