Recent years have seen click & collect make substantial inroads in the world of cross-channel retailing. Indeed, around half of the large German multi-channel retailers now offer such a service – some of them massively advertising this fact.

Despite growing usage of click & collect, consumer awareness remains low

Recent years have seen click & collect make substantial inroads in the world of cross-channel retailing. Indeed, around half of the large German multi-channel retailers now offer such a service – some of them massively advertising this fact. It is therefore surprising to learn that only one in 10 German consumers surveyed knows what “click & collect” actually means. In a recent study on cross-channel retailing conducted by ECC in partnership with hybris software, 70 percent of German consumers claimed to have never heard of the term. That said, almost one-third of German online shoppers have ordered products online and then collected them in-store.

The number of consumers taking advantage of this service – and of retailers offering it – varies strongly according to sector. It is most widespread in the following three branches: fashion & accessories, books & media and consumer electronics & electrical goods. The German retailers where this service is most commonly used are Weltbild and Thalia, Media Markt and Saturn and C&A. Only one-quarter of consumers surveyed said they could not imagine using a click & collect service.


Although the term “click & collect” is practically unknown in Germany, consumers still have a very clear idea of how such a service should ideally function – as demonstrated by an analysis conducted with LEET Conjoint as part of the study. All in all, the study showed that cost is a particularly relevant aspect and that the average German consumer favours:

• Paying for goods in the online shop,

• Free delivery above a minimum order value,

• Earliest possible collection half a day after ordering,

• Latest possible collection within two or three days of goods arriving,

• Collection point in a separate part of store with service staff,

• Goods handed over in original packaging.

From the retailer’s perspective, the benefit of click & collect is that it establishes personal contact to the customer. In reality, however, retailers are still failing to take advantage of this. In one-third of cases, the ordered item was handed over in a sealed package, so that customers did not have the opportunity to inspect the goods in the store. Similarly, two-thirds of consumers did not encounter a salesperson when collecting their order. As such, the direct opportunity to sell additional products remains largely unused. Yet, as the study shows, the potential for cross-selling is big, with one in three consumers saying that when collecting items they had also bought products that had not been previously ordered online.

For today’s discerning shopper, the high-street store remains more than just an alternative delivery address for goods ordered online. It offers immediate availability, personal advice from sales staff and a direct opportunity to inspect products. Cross-channel retailers need to be aware of this so that they can offer their click & collect customers genuine added value that their pure-play rivals can’t match. For example, the quality of the cross-channel shopping experience offers retailers a good opportunity to set themselves apart from the rest of the competition. At the same time, the marketing of click & collect in Germany requires a rethink. After all, there is no point in advertising a service when the majority of customers don’t understand what the term means. It would be far better to describe the service in simple words that tell customers about the added value it brings.

By Dr Eva Stüber

About

The study “Cross-Channel im Umbruch – Das Informations- und Kaufverhalten der Konsumenten Vol. 7” by ECC Köln and hybris software investigates consumer awareness and behaviour in the age of cross-channel retailing with regard to online ordering and in-store collection. Further information on the study and how to order it is available at: http://bit.ly/Cross-Channel2015