Shopping trends have transformed through the years as consumer demands have shifted. Online shopping is nothing new, but the nuances are evolving: Over the past 18 months, we have seen a dramatic shift to click and collect shopping, a change that researchers have attributed largely to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is Click & Collect Shopping?
Click and collect shopping combines the appealing immediacy of in-person retail shopping with the convenience and safety of online shopping. It refers to the practice of ordering items online via a store’s website or app, or through a third party, then picking up the items at the store.
Consumers use two primary methods to engage in click and collect shopping: BOPIS, “buy online, pick up in-store,” and BOPAC, “buy online, pick up at curbside.” Both options offer the customer the option to place the order online; however, the pick-up methods vary slightly. Here’s how click & collect shopping works:
- The customer visits the business’ website or app to place their order. Companies will generally monitor their inventory and display it online to offer customers real-time, remote insight as to whether specific items are available or not. In cases where inventory is not listed, the platform may offer the customer the option to select an alternative in case an item is unavailable.
Once the customer has added all of their items to their virtual cart, they can proceed to checkout and pay. After payment is submitted, they will be notified that their order is being processed.
- Once the order is submitted to the store, the store’s employees will collect the items. Some companies, such as Target, offer expedited services – items ordered via Target’s online platform are available within two hours.
When the items have been collected and are ready for pick-up, the customer will be notified. This notification can be via SMS or text, e-mail, or a push notification on a mobile device.
- The customer then picks up the order! If they order BOPIS, they will pick up the item(s) at the store’s designated area – some stores operate through their customer service centers while others utilize lockers for pick up. If a customer orders BOPAC, they will have to notify the store once they arrive, and an employee will deliver their item(s) right to their car.
- If a customer does not pick up their item within a specific window of time, most companies will send pick-up reminders. And if the customer decides they no longer need the items or do not have time to retrieve the order, then the payment for the order will be automatically refunded.
While many retailers utilize their own BOPIS or BOPAC platforms by leveraging tech solutions such as Ombori Grid Order Pickup, some rely on the systems of third-party companies such as Instacart, a popular service for click and collect grocery shopping. Instacart allows customers to select the store they would like to order from, then shop via their platform.
Growth During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Prior to the pandemic, click and collect shopping was already slowly on the rise. However, once social distancing guidelines were released and consumers were prompted to stay at home, click and collect shopping rapidly expanded. Here’s what the numbers tell us:
- According to Digital Commerce 360, the percentage of the Top 500 North American eCommerce retailers offering curbside pick-up increased from just 6.9% in December 2019 to 43.7% in August 2020.
- US shoppers spent $72.46 billion via click and collect shopping in 2020, a 106.9% growth rate over 2019.
- Click and collect sales grew from accounting for a 5.8% share of all retail eCommerce sales to a 9.1% share.
- Total buyers jumped from 127.4 million people to 143.8 million people, a 12.9% growth rate.
- Walmart, The Home Depot, Best Buy, Target, and Lowe’s accounted for $44.2 billion of the $72.46 billion total for US click and collect last year. Click and collect sales accounted for 41.9% of combined eCommerce sales at these five companies and an eye-opening 50.2% of their combined 2020 eCommerce growth.
While click and collect platforms offered a solution to the difficulty of social distancing while shopping during the pandemic by helping people remain distant to ensure their health and safety, many are now wondering what the click and collect trend will look like in a post-pandemic world.
Click and Collect in a Post Pandemic World
Research suggests that the future of retail lies within an omnichannel approach – a philosophy that retailers can abide by to ensure they can meet the demands of their customers by offering them flexibility and convenience via in-store and online platforms. One facet of the omnichannel approach is the inclusion of click and collect shopping.
Predictions About Click & Collect Shopping
Click and collect sales in the US are expected to increase by 15.2% in 2021, reaching $83.47 billion, and click and collect will account for 9.9% of all retail eCommerce sales. By 2024, US click and collect sales will reach $140.96 billion, and click and collect buyers will increase from 143.8 million people in 2020 to over 160 million in 2024.
Andrew Lipsman, the principal eMarketing analyst at Insider Intelligence, shared, “Though the pandemic created the impetus for the behavior, it will carry forward into the future.”
Benefits of Click & Collect Shopping
The benefits of click and collect shopping create significantly more convenience and safety for customers. As a result, retailers will continue to leverage click and collect shopping as we transition to a post COVID environment. Here are the most prominent benefits of click and collect shopping driving this trend:
- Retailers can monetize their existing brick-and-mortar locations by offering BOPIS and BOPAC. In-store shopping has slowly been declining as customers have been steadily turning to platforms such as Amazon. However, click and collect shopping has allowed retailers to compete with online shopping, offering superior service and same-day pick-up. As a result, they have been able to leverage their existing structures to increase sales.
- More convenient than delivery. Most consumers are reluctant to order product delivery from retailers due to the associated shopping fees. Same-day pick-up, on the other hand, allows customers to avoid these fees. For the retailer, pick up also requires fewer resources compared to delivery.
- The option to upsell. While customers are shopping in-store, they may be overwhelmed with options, often turning to the best deal when finalizing their purchase. However, click and collect allows businesses to upsell items via simple notifications, which increases their overall profits.
- Offers customers flexibility. In our fast-paced world, consumers are searching for companies that can accommodate their busy lifestyles. Click and collect offers a solution since customers can pick up items at their convenience while avoiding long lines in stores.
- Increased loyalty and customer satisfaction. Offering transparency about which items are available in-store allows customers to avoid wasting their time visiting stores that are out of stock of their desired items. Click and collect allows customers to view which items are in stock and plan their visit accordingly.
- Quick integration with their existing platforms. Retailers no longer need to develop the software for click and collect shopping themselves; instead, they can rely on tech companies such as Ombori Grid to integrate the new software with their existing platforms.
- Accommodates the digital world. The future is digital, and click and collect shopping supports this reality. Consumers spend nearly 8 hours per day on digital content, and offering online shopping allows retailers that traditionally rely on brick-and-mortar sales to tap into this behavior.
Turning to Click and Collect Solutions
During the pandemic, many smaller retailers were unable to leverage click and collect services. Whether it was due to lacking capabilities or prohibitive costs, many were instead forced to close their doors and wait out the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that vaccines have rolled out and government restrictions are coming down, these retailers are learning that adopting click and collect shopping will still be a necessity for the future of their business.
Andreas Hassellöf shared, “It’s essential to realize that even when lockdowns are over, things won’t go back to the way they were any time soon - if ever. Many of the shifts we’re seeing now are likely to be permanent. And these are worldwide trends: we’re seeing the same things happening in Europe, in the US, in Dubai, in Australia, in South Africa - everywhere.”
Instead of developing the software internally, retailers can turn to solutions including Ombori Grid Order Pickup. Not only do they help drive businesses by offering the aforementioned benefits, but they take it one step further by offering analytics that drive improved customer satisfaction. With this feature, retailers can remain competitors in the ever-changing marketplace to ensure their ongoing success in a post-pandemic world.
Andreas is Founder and CEO of Ombori. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies, starting in his teens. He has a background in cybersecurity, and has worked for companies such as H&M and Nordnet Bank. Andreas is a passionate believer in digital transformation, and is constantly seeking ways in which technology can change the way we work, shop, and live our lives.