Jonathan Smith explains how indies can compete on the High Street

Revolutionising retail with click and collect services

Jonathan Smith, chairman of click and collect parcel delivery service InPost UK, argues small retail enterprises can compete with industry behemoths and deliver on consumer e-commerce expectations…

We are experiencing a rapid transformation of the retail landscape, largely due to a total redefinition of customer expectations in the recent years. 

The proliferation of technology and resulting rise in e-commerce has meant that today’s increasingly time-pressed consumers now demand their shopping experiences to be as convenient as possible and for products to be available where and when they want them. Otherwise, they will most likely look for another, more suitable option.

Delivery is a key piece of the customer expectation puzzle and can have a huge impact on a consumer’s advocacy of, and trust, in a brand. In the last year alone, one in five consumers have needed to reschedule the delivery of a parcel leading to almost half (45 per cent) claiming they would order more products online if they saw an overall improvement in available delivery service options. This demonstrates the need for retailers, both multichannel and pure play, to keep providing flexible and innovative delivery solutions so customers can shop more conveniently and so that they in turn can benefit from an uplift in online sales. 

This has resulted in a rapid rise in click and collect services. Many large retailers such as Debenhams were quick to implement it as part of their omnichannel offering, allowing consumers to buy online and pick up purchases in store.

However, whilst this model is financially and operationally feasible for big businesses, allowing them to leverage their physical assets and increase store footfall and upsell opportunities is not always a viable solution for smaller retailers and businesses to adopt. As such, until recently smaller internet retailers have been left to rely on home delivery services, which require customers to either wait at home during working hours or have parcels delivered to a neighbour or their offices.

However, we’re now entering a new era of click and collect services. Automated parcel locker networks are revolutionising the retail industry by providing all types and sizes of businesses with the opportunity to give consumers an innovative, flexible and much more accessible choice for collection at check out. Almost half (45 per cent) of UK consumers have specifically expressed a desire for a delivery option with longer opening hours as well as home delivery or in-store collection, and parcel lockers help meet that need. 

Ultimately, consumers want their entire shopping experience to be as timely and convenient as possible. Integrating lockers as part of an omnichannel retail solution offers consumers a greater degree of choice, whilst offering retailers the chance to extend their reach and have their rightful slice of the click and collect pie, no matter what their size.

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