Click and collect – the saviour of the high street?

Click and collect is breathing a new lease of life back into the high street. According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, the increase in mCommerce has been supported by services such as click and collect or reserve, which have become prominent in the shopping cycle.

According to the index, making a purchase or reserving online for collection in-store now accounts for 25% of cross-channel sales. Retailers with both an online and high street presence reaped the rewards in December, with a recorded month-on-month growth of 16%.  With 91 billion spent online in 2013, and £11 million alone in December, click and collect is an opportune way for high street retailers to have a piece of the pie.

On the high street, specialist retailers including; Argos, Dixons and Halfords have prospered from the growth of online, by better linking their web and in store operations, proving that an integrated approach is the way forward. Nearly 50% of sales at Argos are now online, with its check and reserve service having proved popular with customers.

More than ever, consumers want to shop at their own convenience. Browsing online teamed with collection in-store offers just this, enabling consumers to view a wider range of products teamed with collection at a store, day and time of their choice.

In store, mPoS is linking back to the online channel, allowing customers to browse a retailer’s full range of products once in-store whether they are catalogued to that store or not – preventing customers making a wasted journey if a desired product is not in stock. Options include order for store delivery at a later date or home delivery, providing the ultimate cross-channel service and most importantly for the retailer, securing a sale that could have otherwise been lost.

It’s clear that online and in-store services working in tandem is breeding success for retailers and therefore the best route for the high street. Retailers that adopt this joined up approach will be the ones to prosper in 2014.

Mobile retail – great for staff, even better for customers

Why should so much in-store retail be tethered to the till? For example, the payments that are taken, offering customers the opportunity to become part of the brand community, or the query of stock location. All of these activities and more have traditionally taken place at a fixed device within the store and of course, at the end of a customer’s journey.

By 2016, Forrester predicts that 0.8% of retail sales will occur via mCommerce and 9.1% of retail sales will occur via eCommerce. Forrester estimates that nearly 40% of retailers have implemented mPOS or have a pilot program in place today, and 79% plan to integrate mPOS by 2015.

The race to do so, should not simply be about innovative technology and mPOS. It is about finding a mobile solution to fit the needs of your business and offering complete mobility in the store to include, mobile access to information and re-thinking the role of the sales associates.

Many retailers are struggling to drive incremental growth, and some don’t have enough capital to fund all of the initiatives they want to pursue. Meanwhile, customer behaviours are changing profoundly, particularly due to the ways that technology is now being used as part of the shopping process. Consumer adoption of mobile is growing at an exponential rate and this must be capitalised on.

Leading retailers today must plan for enabling intelligent brand ambassadors. Store staff must have access to brand content, customer and product information at a higher level than the customer can gain access to themselves, which may be harder than you think, due to the customer being able to obtain this information from their peers, the brand website and their own account information.  Note, these brand ambassadors are also sitting in customer service, with the same needs as their store colleagues.

The need for store mobility in-store is now important for a number of reasons, with customer expectation being high on the list. Making sure your customer is happy and receiving value in the store will build upon brand loyalty and subsequently, sales.