What to consider when considering click and collect

Experts say speedy websites and product substitutions are areas grocers need to focus on

It’s one of the most-asked questions in grocery e-commerce today: Pickup or delivery – which do consumers desire most?

Planning and executing such a program isn’t an easy feat, and can be quite costly fiscally and reputation-wise if any grocer introduces a lackluster click-and-collect service. Considering this reality, all food retailers looking to develop a winning buy-online-pick-up-in-store strategy should:

  • Figure out its purpose: After a grocer has taken the time to talk with customers, the customer service team and cashiers to see what the buzz – including whether clients really want click and collect, and which stores should offer it – it must ask itself whether the program is intended to be a loss leader or profit centre, advises Dave Makar, director of marketing at e-commerce solutions provider Rosie. Asking this will help determine how to price the offering and every part of the operation. However, smaller grocers should avoid making their program a loss leader, Makar warns. Smaller chains and independents typically don’t have the capital of a national chain, which often can afford to lose money on each order just to keep the customers.

  • Put “fast” before frills: While grocers can offer all sorts of bells and whistles through an e-commerce platform, such special features mean nothing without better browser speed, suggests Dan Dashevsky, COO of My Cloud Grocer, a New York-based e-commerce platform. To illustrate: Google asked users whether they’d rather receive 10 or 30 results in a given search. While users agreed that 30 sounded better, traffic to pages actually dropped 20% after Google implemented this option, because loading time was half a second longer than in cases where users were given 10 results.

  • Connect e-commerce and main websites: Too often, grocers that launch click-and-collect programs set up a standalone website that serves the specific function but isn’t integrated with the main website. As a result, digital coupons, loyalty programs, editorial content, online catering and more aren’t connected, says Chris Bryson, Unata founder and CEO. “This creates a choppy, disconnected and frustrating experience for customers where a feature, such as clipping a digital coupon, does not impact the e-commerce experience. It’s important for grocers to think about their click and collect experience as a part of an overall digital strategy and ensure that it properly integrates from a customer experience point of view,” he says, adding that “to be honest, I haven’t really seen any grocers that have properly tackled this issue yet.”

  • Substitute appropriately: Even with proper planning between grocers and their supplier partners, out-of-stocks are inevitable. While their occurrence is never desirable, what really turns off shoppers is how grocers respond to them. The No. 1 reason that shoppers don’t make a second click-and-collect order is that they receive unexpected or unwanted substitutions, Unata’s Bryson points out. “That’s why you need a good way to deal with substitutions and out-of-stocks as they arrive, such as informing the customer of an out-of-stock and providing them with a few alternative product options,” he recommends. U.S. retailer-wholesalers SpartanNash and Roche Bros. both offer real-time substitution options that can be approved or denied by shoppers via text message, email or phone. By doing this, grocers lower the margin of error and disappointment, and shoppers appreciate the feasibility, Bryson notes.

  • Push for incremental sales: A major downside to click-and-collect sales is that impulse buys – and subsequently larger baskets – may be less likely to occur if shoppers aren’t browsing a physical store. Grocers looking to develop a prime e-commerce program, including click-and-collect, must find ways to increase basket sizes, says Danny Silverman, chief marketing officer of Clavis Insight. Two ways this can be done are to highlight past purchased items, or to discount larger baskets to encourage shoppers to browse and add. Other options in this area include merchandising front end products within click-and-collect destinations. For instance, French grocer Auchan, which according to the Coca-Cola North America report, operates kiosks at certain pickup locations for add-on purchases. Shoppers picking up their orders may also choose from more than 500 SKUs on-site, allowing for basket building even after the order is pretty much complete.

A version of this article originally appeared at ProgressiveGrocer.com

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds