The global COVID-19 pandemic made retailers focus on integrating physical stores into digital ecosystems.
Unfortunately the inconsistency between the online and offline experience is one of the most common problems and a strong factor for clients’ dissatisfaction. Based on profound research, we have reinvented the Click & Collect experience to bring value to retailers and users. Check our solution.
Leveraging technology to solve retailers’ and customers’ problems
Click & Collect is a convenient alternative to online grocery shopping. It’s safe during a pandemic, flexible and therefore attractive to customers. Retailers benefit, too. Click & Collect allows them to avoid common problems related to last-mile delivery.
Creating a successful omnichannel strategy for retail
The times are certainly changing with COVID-19 forcing us to rethink basic, everyday chores - such as grocery shopping.
We’re already seeing evidence of a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour. Many people have been motivated to try online shopping for the first time, opening up new segments of the market. Retailers who developed effective omnichannel strategies see an increased volume of online sales.
These opportunities come hand in hand with challenges, such as local legal restrictions and requirements related to the pandemic, as well as commonsensical safety measures that need to be implemented effectively and quickly.
Overall, consumers are given more options, as being within walking distance of the grocery store becomes a non-factor.
What is Click & Collect?
Click & Collect works like this: the customer fills an online shopping basket, places the order, then collects the groceries on their own at a designated place and time, such as the facilities of a shipping company, a parcel locker, or the store itself. Examples include the Amazon Hub Locker and Walmart’s Pickup Towers. Some more sophisticated solutions, like Zara’s, allow for returns and exchanges.
The benefits of Click & Collect
- Saved time - ordering from home then picking the package up at the customer’s convenience is faster.
- Convenience - online search options, recommendations, and reviews make the decision-making process easier on the user, while intuitive UX allows the retailer more control over the experience.
- Flexibility - by offering a number of collection points, the retailer can reach customers who would not normally visit their physical stores.
- Safety - it’s easier to use precautions and comply with recommendations or laws when the shopping process is under the retailer’s strict control.
- Precision - the retailer can deliver a very specific experience to customers while avoiding or solving common industry problems.
Using a data-based approach to craft a satisfying online shopping experience
As we prepared to build the best Click & Collect process we could, we knew we’d have to start with thorough research.
Together with our Business and Growth teams, we applied desk research, competitive analysis, and user surveys to determine what features would benefit our project the most and to build user flows.
We surveyed over 100 European respondents, asking about their opinions and experiences related to online grocery shopping.
We wanted to know their habits, needs, and the problems they struggled with, especially in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.
We found out the following:
- 86% of respondents rated their online shopping experience as somewhat or very good,
- 36% indicated that convenience, saved time, and getting heavy shopping bags out of their lives were the greatest benefits of online grocery shopping.
We found out that Click & Collect was growing in popularity. It’s good news for retailers, as the solution supports them in their battle with low profit margins and last-mile delivery issues.
Customers, meanwhile, can feel empowered and enjoy the flexibility of choosing exactly when and where they access their purchases.
It’s a win-win situation. And the data supports this: 85% of customers using the Click & Collect method bought additional items while picking up their orders at the store.
77% of retailers reported fewer returned products, as well as cost reductions on processing refunds and restocking.
Creating a good online shopping trip
Based on our findings, we were able to determine what the most important factors of a good online shopping trip are today:
- Consistency between the online and offline experience,
- Exploration of a complex offering, with comprehensive product information and easy search,
- Logistics that satisfy customers and staff,
- Guidance for users,
- A good system for substituting unavailable products,
- Social distancing through touchless payments and minimal interaction with staff and other customers.
Click and collect offers opportunities to implement all of the above, and more.
Results. The practical steps of designing a smooth Click & Collect flow
Based on our research data, we created prioritised user stories. They became the basis for a user journey flow that would guide us in the design phase. We selected the most promising flows and put them through usability tests with representatives of our target audience.
The browsing experience
We needed to ensure that users would see familiar product categories organised as aisles, just like in a physical store. To improve upon this tried and true method, we’d add Machine Learning-powered recommendations, tailoring each user’s experience to their unique taste.
Sometimes very specific information about the product is key. People trying to avoid allergens, as well as those searching for vegan, gluten free or bio options, will be able to achieve their goals thanks to advanced filtering options.
Shopping by recipe
Collecting all products needed for a specific dish can be easy - in fact, all the ingredients could be added to the cart with one click.
Reminders and routines
A good chunk of the groceries we buy are based on habit. Therefore, shopping lists should remember past purchases, preventing forgetfulness and speeding up the ordering process.
Thanks to the aforementioned recurring order option and ML analysis of the user’s shopping habits, they will receive notifications on suggested times for the next grocery run.
Clear and transparent scheduling
We wanted to ensure an easy and pleasant process of choosing the pickup date. Pickup schedules are organized in one-hour slots with indicators about average low traffic times to help customers choose the best and most convenient times for order collection. Slots allow sales people to better organize their logistics work and to easily scale the efficiency of collecting and preparing orders.
To make sure users would enjoy the process and complete the majority of their orders, we created a list of the following key features:
- AR helping to locate the pickup point,
- Clear and transparent scheduling,
- Secure online payments,
- Estimated basket values,
- Controlling the order and product substitutes,
- Avoiding crowded slots.
Additionally, tracking order progress would allow retailers to maintain control over the process, while customers would be able to easily predict when they might need to pick up their shopping. The app would allow for lightning-fast, touch-free collection with just one tap on a smartphone or watch.
Providing a better, more personalised experience
Click & Collect for retail is a good option. With the solution we envision, stores could provide a better, more personalised, smoother experience to customers.
ML recommendations can be a game changer by themselves, increasing sales and improving customer satisfaction.
While the solution puts a lot of power into the hands of users (through the ability to choose the products they want to by, as well as the time, place and exact manner of collection), it also gives retailers the following benefits:
- Rich new insights into customers’ behaviour,
- The ability to carefully track their processes, identify problems and fix them,
- The opportunity to avoid costs associated with delivery or maintaining physical cash registers.
Looking towards the future of online grocery shopping
Our solution offers users the option of limiting social interactions, using safe, touchless payments - all to keep them safe during a pandemic.
But what if they’d prefer not to collect their groceries from a locker or pickup spot in a store? The future is bright. Innovators around the world are already looking into Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) - for example, a self-driving mobile locker visiting customers at home.
This is only one example of how modern technologies can help us step up and face the challenge of a global crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic.