Why Messaging is the Best Click-and-Collect Solution for Many Retailers
Retailers often struggle to move at the speed they would like to because the technology aspect of the solution is so prohibitively expensive or will take a long time to implement. click-and-collect solutions can fall into this category but for many retailers that is entirely unnecessary.
The term click-and-collect implies a lot of IT resources will be required. Logistics between warehouses and stores will need to be streamlined. In-store teams will need training etc.
However, the actuality of click-and-collect is pretty straightforward. The job-to-be-done from a retailer’s perspective is to have the product ready for collection in-store when the customer wants it. The benefit to the customer is that they don’t have to go looking for the product in the store or worry that it won’t be in stock when they visit. How they order it or pick it up is largely irrelevant as long the customer experience is positive. For many retailers, taking orders over the phone, via email or messaging channels can be an effective and affordable way to achieve the same benefits. But of those three options, it’s messaging that delivers the best click-and-collect experience. I’ll explain why in a moment.
The Rapid Growth of Click-and-Collect
As you can see from the chart below, the demand for click-and-collect and curbside pickup (the equivalent term in the US) options has spiked in a massive way during the COVID-19 lockdowns. That is hardly surprising seeing as access to stores was impossible in many cases and customers were reluctant to enter open stores for fear of contracting the virus. But like so many other changes to consumer behaviour that we’ve witnessed in the first half of 2020, many people will continue to use and expect retailers to have click-and-collect solutions way beyond the end of the pandemic. Retailers who don’t offer this facility will miss out on sales and lose market share because of it.
If you’ve not already invested in a solution and maybe even if you have, you should consider implementing a messaging-based click-and-collect option.
5 Benefits of Using a Messaging-Based Click-and-Collect Solution
Different types of retailers have different needs when it comes to click-and-collect solutions. Large grocery stores are typically dealing with orders that consist of dozens of different items that may include frozen and chilled products. For businesses like that, a complex click-and-collect solution is necessary. The same might also be true for big-box retailers where the volume of orders to an individual store might be logistically complicated to manage without a dedicated system.
So to be clear, I am not suggesting that a messaging-based click-and-collect solution will work equally well for all retailers. However, smaller format stores or large stores that don’t receive that many click-and-collect orders and don’t sell perishable goods (e.g. fashion retailers) should read on. Such retailers rarely have to deal with massive orders so they really don’t need anything more than an easy way for the customer to communicate with store staff remotely. Messaging is the ideal way to do that and still offer an equal if not better customer experience than traditional solutions. Here are five reasons why messaging is the best click-and-collect solution for many retailers.
1. It’s a Real-Time Click-and-Collect Solution
Many click-and-collect solutions actually cause more problems than they solve. Frequently, the setup of the click-and-collect process involves packaging the order at a central warehouse and then shipping it to the store for collection. This can take 48 hours or more when the customer expectation is that the order will be available in a couple of hours. I’ve spoken to store managers who have expressed their frustration with the poor customer experience this creates. Customers routinely show up during their lunch break to collect an order they placed in the morning, only to be disappointed. Our research also indicates that a high proportion of phone calls to stores are customers checking that their click-and-collect order is ready, which adds to the inefficiency.
The alternative is to have customers message store staff their order directly via WhatsApp or Google’s Business Messages for example. The store staff member would then simply set aside the goods in a bag and send the customer another message letting them know it’s ready for collection. This could even work in the context of customers queuing outside a store in order to speed up the flow of people through a store.
2. Easy and Accessible for the Consumer
Empowering customers to use the likes of WhatsApp, Messenger or Google’s Business Messages to place a click-and-collect order means the service is always at the tip of their fingers. In Brazil we’ve seen how using WhatsApp in this context has become the norm during the COVID-19 lockdown and it’s a habit that has continued after restrictions have been lifted. The level of convenience for the customer cannot be matched by a solution on your website and, once a customer has connected with your business, that connection lives in the customer’s chat history to reduce the friction even further.
3. Helps Store Staff Build Rapport with Customers (introduce cross-sells)
If ever there was a time when store staff need to be maximising cross-sell and upsell opportunities, it is now. Very little cross-sell opportunity is afforded to staff members when an order is placed via a website and the first interaction with the customer is when they arrive to collect their order.
On the other hand, if the store staff member has taken the order over messaging, they know what the customer wants and can suggest other relevant products to the customer by sending a quick video message. This is where staff expertise comes into play but messaging creates a situation where the customer can be tempted to add other items to the order.
In the case of applications like Facebook Messenger, staff will even have the customer’s profile picture. That means store associates can greet customers by name when they arrive and affords them that moment to suggest alternative items in person. This is the ultimate in a personalised experience.
4. Order is Placed in Writing but Facilitates Clarifications
Unlike orders placed over the phone, messaging-based orders are placed in writing and that minimises the risk of a mistake being made or the written note of the order being misplaced. And unlike email, where a back and forth conversation can be extremely clunky, if store staff need to clarify something it is extremely easy to send the customer a message.
Consider a situation where the exact product the customer asked for is not available, the store associate would be able to send a video showcasing similar items that might meet the customers need rather than just rejecting the order.
5. Affordable and Easy to Implement (Get Started Quickly)
Finally, and very importantly in the current environment, implementing a messaging-based click-and-collect solution is affordable and can be done very quickly. Using a product like ServiceDock, you could have all your stores set up on Google’s Business Messages, WhatsApp and Messenger in a few days (we even offer a free trial). No expensive integrations or new logistical challenges need to be handled. The biggest expense is likely to be ensuring there is a device (e.g. an iPad) in-store that staff can use to respond to customers and that is only necessary if you or your staff are uncomfortable using their own devices.
The messaging medium is so familiar to everyone now that there should be no staff training required to use the technology. The only change in behaviour that needs to be managed is that someone pays attention to notifications and responds to them. This can all be overseen from head office and central staff can assume control of chats if they are not being answered so there is a failsafe if stores are overwhelmed.
We’re Only Playing Catch Up
Brazilian retailers were using messaging to handle click-and-collect orders long before anyone ever heard of COVID-19. I’ve previously written about how they use WhatsApp to drive retail sales in their stores and click-and-collect plays a big in that. Chinese retailers have been taking orders via WeChat for half a decade at this stage and many billions of dollars of commercial activity is now happening within that messaging app.
What’s really important to remember here is that automating everything is not always the best solution. If you let your IT team lead the development of your click-and-collect solution you might be getting off on the wrong foot. Blending technology with the skills of local store staff in the order process has huge advantages. There is no better way to build customer loyalty than having frequent and convenient positive interactions with your customers. In that context, messaging delivers the best click-and-collect experience possible for many retailers.