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The Visible Value Blog

Improving Customer Experience Through the End-to-End Click & Collect Process

Posted by Steve Northcott

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May 12, 2017 at 3:00 AM


This is the last in a short series of blogs looking at the devil-in-the-detail of providing Click & Collect in a way that remains profitable rather than becoming a de facto “loss leader” offering.  For this last blog we’re reminding ourselves why this is all important in the first place - customer experience – and thinking about the future. We’ll look at an end-to-end customer journey (click-collect-return) for a young woman named Susan, and at what technology impacts at what stage of customer engagement.

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Susan wants a new blouse for work.  She likes the (fictional) high street retailer Fashion Fever.  But work’s too busy for her to get to spend time browsing and choosing, which she’d rather fit in at her desk over lunch. Fashion Fever allows Susan to check stock, by local store, early in the purchase process.  (For regular, repeat customers, retailers should let them designate a ‘home’ store. And providing an easy-to-use Store Locator is important.)

Susan finds a style and colour she likes, but knows she often falls between two sizes for Fashion Fever clothes, so decides to order two to try on at home, a 10 and a 12. She chooses to pick it up next day from the Fashion Fever store closest to her work.

Fashion Fever doesn’t actually have it in stock at her chosen store so they have to send it from a local distribution centre.  Picking, packing and labelling solutions help this move through the process quickly, and receiving in store solution at the store make sure it goes to the right place instore.


When Susan comes instore to collect orders, Fashion Fever has ensured the back-end organisation is working (customer recognition, order locating) so that her goods can be found quickly and accurately.  There’s a dedicated collection point clearly signposted instore which all staff have been trained to identify and guide customers to.  The collection point delivers speedy, no-fuss collection, with queues kept to a minimum.


Susan tries her clothes on at home – she fits the 10 perfectly and wants to return the 12.  The packaging allows her to re-seal it and a return note makes it even easier.  This weekend she’s going to the retail park near home, where there’s another branch of Fashion Fever.  She’s able to return it there with no hassle, both she and her order being recognised seamlessly by the store in question.

Susan’s happy.  But the story doesn’t end there for Fashion Fever, as they need to get the size 12 blouse back into stock as quickly as possible so they can sell it.  Which, thanks to technology, they can do easily and without unreasonable expense.  Which means Fashion Fever are happy too.

What’s the secret to delivering Susan’s great customer experience?

Susan’s Fashion Fever experience was underpinned by three things:  real-time inventory visibility, connected IT systems, and efficient processes at each step of the journey.  Given that click and collect does introduce additional processes when compared to traditional shopping, this last step is critical in making sure that click and collect can be delivered profitably. Equipping each stage with technology such as scanners, rugged mobile devices, handheld mobile printers and RFID help achieve this efficiency.

Guided receiving and putaway solutions and processes are essential to maintaining smooth and accurate operations.  These allow associates to access accurate, real-time information about what was received, when it was received, and the shape it was in.  Which means a great experience for staff as well as for customers.

What does the future hold for Fashion Fever?

One thing is for sure – as Click & Collect is here to stay, it will continue to evolve quickly.  Many retailers expect customers to behave as they have in the past, whereas disruption can change everything.  Such retailers find that fulfilment capabilities fail to address shifting consumer demand or competitive business models.

Fashion Fever can’t be expected to know today what the future may hold – a move to four-hour Click & Collect from next-day, for example, or enabling kerbside pickup or instore smart lockers, possibly even smart sensing capabilities.  But whatever it looks like, their systems are flexible and agile enough to empower enhancements to their existing Click & Collect offerings and processes.

Topics: Retail, EMEA, Click and Collect