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edition 9 (223)
September 2017
Retail & leisure

Click bait for the buyer

Retailers need to embrace e-commerce AND get customers into their shops – even if it’s just to return the goods bought online

Magdalena Rachwald

Click bait for the buyer

Online shops are doing everything they can to make customers happy: they are now able to deliver parcels on the same day – or even in less than an hour; they are planning to despatch parcels by drones and to train couriers to track recipients. Meanwhile, many consumers actually prefer to simply collect their shopping in a physical store. And this has very real advantages for the seller

‘Multichannel or die’ may be a brash, even melodramatic, slogan, but it accurately conveys the current need to embrace sales across various channels. Brick-and-mortar stores are in a rush to get online sales up and running, while internet retailers are experimenting by opening real stores. People are now able to shop all day and night using computers and laptops, and can put products in their virtual shopping baskets on their tablets or smartphones 24/7. We love to be able to shop around-the-clock, but we also like to go shopping to pick up our purchases. And when we are there, we often go further – we make more purchases. Click & collect is one of the basic services for multichannel sales that is now available across the world – but in Poland it is only just taking its first tentative steps.

From gadgets to pills

According to the ‘Omnichannel in Poland’ report recently published by Knight Frank, half of the companies surveyed (120 large retail chains present in shopping centres) offer the collection of goods in brick–and-mortar stores. Electronics goods retailers scored highly in the survey (85 pct provide a click & collect service), as did DIY supermarkets (80 pct). Click & collect is also gradually being taken up by fashion brands (46 pct already offer such an option), and it is also available from major grocery chains, for example, from the eCarrefour and Intermarché online stores (Auchan is to introduce a click & collect service in the near future). Food and beverages chains such as Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza have also been experimenting with click & collect.

The potential has also been noted by drugstores – online stores set up by Superpharm, Apteka DOZ, Ziko and Gemini offer diet supplements and cosmetics that can be picked up at sales points and, importantly, it is also possible to order prescription medicines this way. In this case the collection is only possible from an actual pharmacy, due to the regulations on the sale of medications as well as their transport, which requires special handling and temperature control.

Keeping the customer satisfied

From the point of view of the consumer, the collection of goods from shops has many advantages. Firstly, it is free of charge. According to the ‘E-Shopping 2016’ report by Ceneo.pl, 90 pct of those who shop online claim they prefer a longer waiting period to an additional transportation fee. The ‘E-shopping Barometer’ study, commissioned by the DPD Group, found that 89 pct of customers expect free delivery. And you do have to pay extra for courier delivery (at least up to a certain price level).

Home delivery is the option most frequently chosen by Poles (82 pct, according to the ‘E-Shopping Barometer’ survey). But such a form of delivery has its disadvantages. For the collection of goods in a brick-and-mortar store, the client can choose the time of their visit, which is a significant bonus compared to the sometimes hazy promises of courier firms. If an external company is entrusted with a parcel, then weekend deliveries just go out of the window. According to the survey, in Poland fast delivery is appreciated. Even though you usually have to wait 2–3 days for the collection of goods in the store, this is no longer than for a home delivery. Click & collect services can also shorten the waiting period – selected products on AGD Euro RTV’s online store are even available within an hour of ordering. The ability to check the availability of products in a given physical store and reserving them is also a time saver. However, on the Polish market this option tends not to be as available as in those where e-commerce is more developed.

For consumers it is also crucial to be able to examine the package they are picking up. This is particularly important when it comes to grocery shopping – so the customer can check whether the goods ordered are fresh. The customer can also check whether it contains the products they actually ordered. And in the case of clothing and footwear, they can try them on.

Picking up an order in a store also gives the consumer a greater sense of security when it comes to the payment. Many people are still wary of paying for their shopping through pay-by-link websites (e.g. PayPal, Przelewy24 or Dot Pay) and would prefer to pay directly by card or cash in a real store while collecting the goods. But although click & collect services in Polish shops are increasingly available, the option of paying for the goods upon collection is still rather unusual.

More returns, but more loyal customers

In-store goods collection also has advantages for the retailer. The most important of these is the fact that the client actually enters their store in the first place, after which they often go on to buy other products. According to Dorota Wiaderek, the commercial and marketing director of drugstore chain Superpharm, as many as half of the customers picking up online orders take the opportunity to buy more goods. And the potential revenue a shop can make in this way can be calculated.

Another benefit for retailers is the logistics of returns. Returned goods are usually bad news for a store; however, since returning them involves a visit to a store this also has the advantage of bringing customers in to make other purchases. However, only 36 pct of the brands surveyed by Knight Frank offer such an option. It is worth comparing this to customers’ expectations – according to the data of one particular e-commerce i-systems developer, as many as 96 pct of consumers would like to have the option of returning their goods to a physical store. This should come as no surprise, since doing so removes the bother of packing a parcel and waiting for the courier. Admittedly, you still have to wait for your money to be reimbursed, but this would also be the case with returns using other sales channels (there are only a few retailers who reimburse money straight away, such as W.Kruk jewellery stores, depending on whether they have enough cash in the shop).

When the customer returns to a physical shop, the vendor can then assess the condition and legitimacy of the return on the spot. Not only does this not require any additional logistical costs, but the product can also be immediately placed where it should be – back on the shop shelf, waiting for another customer. Naturally, things are actually not quite that simple in the real world. Returned goods may require ironing and sometimes cleaning, while other products have to be repackaged or even sent on to another location. And if the reason for returning the goods is damage – even more needs to be done, such as selling them on to outlet stores and second hand shops, or even disposal.

It has to be admitted that click & collect increases the total number of returns because returning goods to a store is so much more convenient. However, we have to bear in mind the magic phrase ‘customer experience’, in that what is important is the impression the customer takes away from the entire transaction, rather than their feelings towards the particular product. Customers appreciate convenience, clear communication and swift service. Click & collect combined with the possibility of returning goods to the store can only encourage them to like the brand and to make more purchases in the future.

The influence of online shopping experiences on future purchases

Positive shopping experience:

I was encouraged to make more orders from the same online store 47 pct (of respondents)

I was encouraged to visit the physical store of the retailer for further purchases 31 pct

Negative shopping experience:

I was actually discouraged from visiting the physical store of this retailer 13 pct

It discouraged me from placing new orders from the same online shop 22 pct

I am oblivious to the shopping experience when shopping online 23 pct

Source: ‘The Future of Shopping. The Key Trends in Retail Today and in 2030’, Comarch and Kantar TNS.

Buy online, try on in the mall

Click & collect is an interesting option – not only for individual stores, but also for shopping centres when it comes to attracting additional customers. European shopping centres have been experimenting with a click & try service – and in Poland this was first launched in the Posnania centre in Poznań. What is click & try? Products from any online store are ordered to be delivered to the shopping centre. The customer can then simply pick up the parcel at a specially designated point. They are then also given the opportunity to try on any clothes they have ordered this way (in the fitting rooms at the click & try point) or to similarly evaluate other types of goods. If the content of the package they receive does not turn out to be satisfactory for them, the staff working at the point can then return the goods for the customer.


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