How is click-and-collect changing Christmas shopping patterns?

What are retailers most likely to be wishing for this Christmas? A click-and-collect service that copes with demand and delights customers is a fair bet.

Almost half (42%) of European consumers have used a click-and-collect service in the past 12 months, according to the JDA/Centiro Customer Pulse Report Europe 2017. And, in recent years, the service’s popularity has directly influenced Christmas shopping patterns, as consumers increasingly rely on the convenience and value it provides.

But when is this convenience most valued? When are shoppers most likely to forego online delivery wait times, and actually walk into the store?

Luckily, ShopperTrak’s historical data gives us a glimpse into when consumers are most likely to leverage click-and-collect services. For 2017, our view is that Thursday 21st December will see a huge influx of customers, as they head to stores for last-minute purchases, as well as to collect festive food orders and items they’ve ordered as Christmas gifts. In fact, we predict that UK stores and shopping centres could see up to +60% more traffic on 21st December, when compared to an average Thursday in 2017. Throughout December, retailers who offer a reliable click-and-collect operation can expect the service to drive a steady flow of shoppers into their stores.

Size of the click-and-collect prize

The JDA/Centiro report finds that a quarter (24%) of European adults who used click-and-collect bought another item while picking up their order in store. Such add-on sales are a welcome boost to any retailer’s commercial performance. As Christmas nears, customers are often looking for last-minute gift ideas, and additional family treats, so the upsell potential is strong.

But retailers have learnt from experience that click-and-collect success is not always guaranteed. Retailers who can predict demand and have their stores, staff and operations primed to deliver excellent pre-Christmas service are most likely to succeed. Insight is everything.

The click-and-collect Christmas challenge

Real danger lies in disappointing loyal customers when they discover long queues and missing items at the click-and-collect points they are relying so heavily upon. European retailers have suffered high-profile disasters in recently years. For instance: Tesco failed to keep up with demand for its grocery click-and-collect service in the run-up to Christmas 201 and was plagued by angry comments on social media. More generally, last Christmas brought with it a spate of press reports about items not arriving at stores, long queues at click-and-collect points, and not enough staff members being present at service points.

For 2017, retailers need to have robust strategies in place to ensure that store associates are not overwhelmed by the extra demand for these services. Retailers with historic shopper traffic data will be well positioned to predict when the surges will come, how flow through stores will be affected, and what level of extra staffing is required to cope with this important new element of Christmas shopping.

Because click-and-collect is so convenient, and often free, Christmas shoppers absolutely love it. Retailers in Europe are likely to experience unprecedented demand in the weeks before Christmas 2017, and those with the right insights and operational planning will have plenty to celebrate. However, those aiming to ‘muddle through’ could be in for a very rocky ride.

Be fully prepared for the Christmas 2017 rush: download our busiest shopping days infographic.

 

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