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Making The Most Of Click And Collect: CONNECT Mobile CX Summit

Last week I attended the CONNECT Mobile CX Summit in Philadelphia. I was there to talk about some potential futures for mobile, but while I was there I got a chance to listen in on one great panel discussion in particular: the opportunities and challenges of what I prefer to call Click & Collect (I hate the term BOPIS – I don’t think it does that activity justice and it’s certainly not consumer-friendly).

Why talk Click & Collect at a mobile summit? That’s actually an easy question to answer. One, more than 50% of traffic to a retailer’s website likely comes from mobile devices these days, with very few exceptions. So when talking about user experience around something like Click & Collect, you pretty much can’t talk about it without at least considering the role of mobile. And many retailers are going so far as to consider “mobile first”.

Two, once a Click & Collect order is in flight, most consumers are relying on mobile to receive further communications and updates from the retailer. If a customer is already on their way to the store, sending them a non-mobile optimized email about their status is pretty worthless. But texting them or calling them on their mobile phone? That’s going to be far more effective in actually heading off a customer service issue in the store.

Three, employees in the store are most likely relying on mobile to help fulfill Click & Collect orders. It is still possible to operate paper-based or at least using non-mobile technology, but as Click & Collect orders grow, retailers are finding manual processes breaking down in the face of all that volume. Which means even if retailers don’t want it to be, employee-facing mobile is becoming more important than ever in enabling Click & Collect in stores.

With all of that piled on, it’s actually amazing to think that some people might object to thinking about Click & Collect WITHOUT considering it in the context of mobile, but there we are.

So what did I learn last week?

Order Profiles Continue To Differ Significantly Between The US And Europe.

My experience with European retailers who have implemented Click & Collect has been lower average order values, but far more frequent orders compared to averages. At the panel at the CONNECT summit, Rich Hope, the CMO of Jersey Mike’s, Dennis Schleicher, the senior manager of customer experience at Kohl’s, and Howard Blumenthal, the vice president of eCommerce at Brookstone (formerly of Advance Auto Parts, and the focus of the bulk of the experience he shared), all talked about what they’ve learned about Click & Collect. And pretty much across the board, they talked about higher average order values from Click & Collect orders than either in-store orders OR online orders in general. They didn’t comment on frequency of trips (and we ran out of time before I could ask).

In Europe, in general, the explanation I usually hear for lower AOV and higher frequency of trips is that consumers are stopping in on their way home from work. They’re more inclined to use the retailer as “storage” because they have smaller cars or greater reliance on public transport and smaller homes, so they’re more than happy to buy less more frequently (a net positive in spending overall).

US retailers do not appear to see the same behavior. The panelists did note that they see spikes in Click & Collect orders right at the end of the workday – even Kohl’s, which you wouldn’t think would have the same kind of ordering profile as, say, a sub shop. Instead, they see a much higher AOV, as much as 4 times the average store ticket. The explanation given? Online has a much better upsell/cross-sell opportunity than stores by themselves, especially in situations where consumers feel the pressure of a line.

This is great – one of the cornerstones of what turns out to be a very strong business case for implementing Click & Collect. But it’s also a bit of a sad commentary on stores, that the technology of online can do a better job cross-selling than a store employee. But let’s face it – employees don’t receive the training they need to compete, and they’re typically not staffed at a level where they can get in front of the purchase process. There is a lot more upsell opportunity in the aisle than there is at the cash wrap, no matter how good the employee is at upsell.

The Learning Curve Matters – A Lot.

All three panelists talked about unintended consequences from their early efforts at Click & Collect, whether that was customers showing up at the wrong store because they didn’t realize where they’d actually placed the order, or whether it was making sure that a promotion to get people to get used to ordering online for in-store pickup actually has the scale in stores to support wild success (it’s a double whammy to spend to support the Click & Collect process and then also fail to deliver on that promise once customers get to the store).

All three panelists emphasized the importance of getting on the learning curve – of throwing something out there, learning a lot, and rapidly iterating on the process and the technology to support Click & Collect. All three panelists agreed that you will never think of everything that you need to consider out of the box, and also that the worst thing you can do is promise a great experience, and then take too long to iterate on that experience until it truly is great. Because the one thing you can count on is that, no matter how much up-front effort you put into it, you won’t get it right the first time.

There were a lot of other lessons to be learned from Click & Collect, related to being able to capitalize on the in-store opportunity, and also how you need to evolve your process as volume moves from single digits to double digits. Regardless of the lessons still to be learned, the panel’s conclusion was fairly simple: Click & Collect has become a baseline expectation among consumers. You can come from worlds as diverse as sub sandwiches, clothing, and auto parts, but consumer expectations are still the same: they want their products when they want them, and how they want to get them, and stores in particular need to be prepared.


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Articles & Opinions August 29, 2017
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