By Eric Fergusson, Head of Retail Services, eCommera

More than 50% of UK retailers have implemented click and collect in some form, and with numerous benefits there seems no reason not to do it. But how many of those retailers offering click and collect are providing an optimal experience?

The reality is, mastering click and collect requires a strategic approach that evaluates all elements - from which locations to offer the service to, to having the most comprehensive training for in-store staff. With this in mind, here are my five examples of what mistakes to avoid when implementing a click and collect model.

1. Don’t automatically roll out click and collect to every store…

You may not need to offer the service in every store. Some of your stores may be too small to accommodate a good click and collect experience or the stock room may not have enough capacity, therefore having a detrimental effect on efficiency. Without considering these factors you risk negatively impacting the in-store experience for all customers by increasing wait times and reducing staff productivity.

Do make sure you evaluate the locations where the programme would be most beneficial and keep a close eye on results once you have launched the service.

2. Don’t maintain a channel-centric view of stock…

Without a single view of stock, customers may have to wait longer for their order as they are sent from the warehouse regardless of whether the item is in the selected store. As well as greater fulfilment costs, this means that customers may have to wait 3-5 days to receive their order in comparison to making the order available from store stock in as little as 30 minutes.

Do invest in an order management system that will give you a single, centralised view of stock to provide you with an optimal click and collect experience while also reducing fulfilment costs.

3. Don’t forget to notify the customer that the order is in store…

Unallocated orders are not only inefficient but are also an added cost on the business. Understand which notification channels work for which customers and utilise them all. Whether that be email, text or phone call, you want to ensure the consumer has an optimal experience from the first click to collection.

Do have a clear set of automated delivery notifications to send to the customer when item is ready for collection, and, if possible, ensure the item can be made available for sale in store if the customer fails to collect it. This will save costs by removing the need to send parcels back to the warehouse.

4. Don’t maintain separate tech systems for each channel or develop workarounds to integrate systems…

Workarounds will cost more money in the long run as you will need to invest in development time to get your systems functioning the way you need. Retail is a fast-paced industry with new innovations emerging regularly, therefore with a system that is not purpose-built for this environment you will struggle to keep up, let alone get ahead.

Do make the right investment for the long term. You want to make sure you have the right technologies in place to do the right jobs. With this in mind, consider undertaking a technology audit. Ask the questions; do your current systems stack up? Will they get you where you need to be or do you need to start evaluating other options? This will help you to start to build out your omni-channel technology roadmap.

5. Don’t measure the wrong things

Avoid focussing solely on the outputs of the service, for example the number of click and collect orders in a store, as these may vary significantly for a variety of reasons. Similarly, an absolute focus on a target revenue number will miss the concept of the optimisation, and you risk declaring the success of a programme that is losing you customers and money.

Do try and tie the KPIs back to those which you can directly influence. These include the retained revenue from a customer’s first purchase, the operational satisfaction from shipment and delivery on customer promise, and the sale at full price through gross margin return on capital.

So, now that you know what not to do when it comes to click and collect, you can start putting in place the strategy and initiatives that ensure that you can provide an optimal experience for your customers while also gaining the best benefits for your own business.