It seems like every week there’s a new doom and gloom article on LinkedIn or in the trade press about The Retail Apocalypse. High rents, long leases and a growing number of sales lost to online has led to bricks and mortar retailers shutting up shop rapidly.
For example, as of Mid-March, retailers in the US had announced the closure of 5,000 stores since the beginning of the year. Compare that to the 5,524 stores closed during the entirety of 2018, and it’s clear to see that the rate of closures is increasing quite dramatically.
In the UK and Australia, it’s a fairly similar picture. As sales move slowly but surely off the high street and onto the information superhighway, what can physical retailers do to keep the online beast at bay? Surely the answer lies in capitalising upon their real-world presence. After all, no one likes being forced to wait for the delivery man.
Making fulfilment more fulfilling
By now, it seems like most retailers have either introduced or are in the process of introducing Click and Collect, but how can the experience be improved for both retailers and customers alike?
As we see it, there are two types of Click and Collect – ‘in-store’ and ‘out-of-store’ – and both have their advantages.
In-store Click and Collect gives retailers a chance to try to entice the customer further into the store to make spontaneous purchases. This can be achieved by a store assistant simply asking the customer if there was anything else they needed that day, through special limited time offers (e.g. 10% off storewide valid for the next hour), or by providing an opportunity for the customer to sample the goods before leaving (change rooms, for example).
Stay in the car
When it comes to ‘out-of-store’ Click and Collect, several supermarkets in the US and the UK are already offering drive-thru services like the ones pictured below. While this is super convenient for customers, it provides little cross-sell opportunity for the retailer. However maybe that’s not really a big deal, since the retailer already had a cross sell opportunity when the customer was at the online checkout, and then had a second cross sell opportunity when they emailed the customer their digital receipt. On top of that, if they decided to, the retailer was then able to attempt further cross sell through ongoing eDMs and display retargeting.
We can easily imagine out-of-store Click and Collect becoming more and more common at big box retailers in the future, as well as collection points servicing multiple retailers at once in large shopping centre carparks.
Smaller is better?
Almost every article we’ve read in the last few years about retail store closures seems to feature the term ‘right-sizing’. But it’s not just more ‘right-sizing’ through the closing of underperforming stores that we’re expecting to see in the near future. We’re also predicting many stores will follow in the footsteps of Argos, Searsand others and start heavily embracing smaller format stores with Click and Collect front and centre.
Because if Click and Collect continues to grow in popularity and fewer customers are venturing into the heart of the store, retailers will surely ask themselves why they’re paying such high rents to hold so much stock out on the floor.
As rents continue to climb and retailers around the world ‘right-size’, maybe Click and Collect will provide both physical retailers and customers with a win-win.