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Click-and-collect: from John Lewis to Topman and M&S - who is the best?

Click-and-collect has become an essential weapon in the retail armoury. But how good is it in reality? Drapers placed some orders and then went to Oxford Street to find out

Schuh

200 Oxford Street, London W1   

Score: 8/10                   

Pros

The website was quick and simple to use. After adding an item to my basket, a pop-up appeared offering ‘365 [days] returns’ on all orders and asking if I needed any help. On the same page I was also given all the delivery options, broken down by cost. After clicking ‘add to basket’ I chose to pick up free from store. I did not have to register to checkout, proceeding with just my email address. I was able to use my current location, town or postcode or select from a drop-down list of stores. The website provided the store opening times and a picture of the exterior. Over the next couple of days, a flurry of emails was sent informing me of the various stages at which my order was at, alongside information about the returns procedure. On the delivery day, a notification text was sent. Once in store, 

it was easy to find the desk, where a friendly shop assistant checked my order on a wall-mounted screen and asked me to take a seat. Less than two minutes later the package was brought over for me to try on the shoes, which were neatly presented in their box.

Cons While I am able to pick up from store for free within two to three working days, next-day delivery is not an option. There is no dedicated click-and-collect area, so I had to queue at the cash desk. CR  

Topman

214 Oxford Street, London W1

Score: 4/10                     

Click

Slow service and poor sign-posting to its collection point let Topman down.

Pros

The online experience was good. After choosing my product there was a simple online size guide to help ensure I had chosen the correct fit. The site allowed me to sign in and complete my order as a new customer, and the payment process was clear and straightforward. As you enter your information it gives you a big, reassuring green tick on completion of each field, rather than telling you at the end if you have made a mistake and forcing you to re-enter your information, as some retailers do. Once I had verified my card details I was sent a confirmation email, and advised to show this and the card I paid with when collecting my order. You are given 10 days in which to pick up your purchase. The next day, I received an email confirming my order was ready to collect.

Cons Topman was the second worst click-and-collect experience we came across. The next-day service isn’t free – it costs £3, which will put off some customers, particularly Topman’s younger demographic. Finally, in store I had to go to the third floor to collect. It isn’t well signposted – I had to ask a member of staff – and it took nearly two-and-a-half minutes to get there. There also isn’t a dedicated collection point, so I had to wait for more than four minutes before I was seen, and then another one-and-a-half minutes to receive my goods. JK

Dorothy Perkins

118-132 New Oxford Street, London WC1

Score: 5/10                      

Click

A cancelled initial online order and the sales assistant’s poor attitude saw Dorothy Perkins marked down.

Pros

The online ordering process was almost seamless. After adding the item to my bag, a drop-down box outlined the delivery options. Next, a pop-up box offered a store finder function. After inputting Oxford Street I was informed I could pick up my order from any Arcadia store, which I selected using a handy map graphic. Once inside the store it didn’t take long to locate the click-and-collect desk in the basement, although I waited five minutes to be served. For the collection I was simply asked to give the name on my card and sign a form. 

Cons Dorothy Perkins offers store express delivery on orders made before 7pm, although it costs £2.95. Once I placed my order the initial confirmation did not give an exact time for when the item would be ready for collection. Disappointingly, the next day I received an email at 9.15am saying my order had been cancelled because the garment was out of stock. I was prompted to order something else by clicking through from the email to the website, which I did, but had to go through the complete purchase process again. In store I was unimpressed by the store assistant’s abrupt manner and unhelpful attitude when I asked where the changing rooms were located. CR

Marks & Spencer

Pantheon, 173 Oxford Street, London W1    

Score: 7/10                    

Pros Ordering online at Marks & Spencer is simple enough. You can either choose to create an account or continue as a guest to checkout, and all clothing, beauty, homeware and food orders can be collected from participating UK stores. The service is free and you can choose which store you want to collect from by entering the location into the site’s search function. Payment is straightforward, just asking you to verify your card details. The aftercare is also good. I received two emails: the confirmation with details such as order and unique customer number, date and time (after 12pm) for collection, along with the store address, and the second telling me my order was ready for collection. In store, the collection point is located on the first floor at the back of the men’s department and is well signposted. It has its own area, which is neat and tidy. It took around two-and-a-half minutes to reach the collection point and then just one minute to receive my purchase. 

Cons Unlike many other retailers we tested, M&S was unable to deliver the next day following our order on a Tuesday afternoon. The aftercare emails didn’t provide a map of where to go in store for the collection point. There were no changing rooms and, when I collected my parcel, the sales assistant didn’t check if it was the right product and didn’t advise me on the returns process. JK

Next

325-327 Oxford Street, London W1  

Score: 7/10                    

Pros With the slickness you would expect from a leader in home delivery, Next showed the item I chose was in stock and available for free next-day click-and-collect after 3pm. Entering my payment details was easy and I received a confirmation email straight away. By 7am the next morning I had an email saying my order had been dispatched and a follow-up at 2.30pm informed me the order was now in store. I waited for two-and-a-half minutes at the desk to be served, and it took the sales assistant just two minutes to find my order after locating my details on the till. Whereas the email informed me I would need two forms of ID, they were actually not needed. The garment arrived neatly on a hanger with all the paperwork attached. The friendly store assistant told me where to try on my purchase.

Cons While the payment entry process was easy, there was no option to proceed as a guest, meaning I had to take time to register. The website automatically selected the store closest to my home, which might be helpful for some shoppers but in this case I wanted to collect it elsewhere. I then found it difficult to select the store of choice. ‘Oxford Street’ was not recognised, so I had to go online to find the postcode. The store has no dedicated click-and-collect area, although there are signs in the entrance pointing to the ground floor desk. CR

John Lewis  

300 Oxford Street, London W1  

Score 8.5/10                     

Click

Simple to order online with great aftercare, its own dedicated collection area and brilliant service saw John Lewis come out top.

Pros

Click-and-collect at John Lewis is seamless. Choosing the right size is aided by a simple ‘size guide’ PDF. I was asked to provide an email address but was allowed to complete the order as a guest with the option of creating an account later. Click-and-collect from any John Lewis or Waitrose is free, and I was told I could collect my order from 2pm the next day. Payment was straightforward, simply asking me to verify my card details. A completion screen recapped all of the information regarding time and location, including a map of the store with directions to the collection point. Similar to Marks & Spencer, this screen told me John Lewis would keep my order for seven days. The aftercare was good. I received an initial email thanking me for my purchase and then a follow-up email and text the next day telling me the product was ready to collect, along with information on what I needed to bring (email, text or ID) and the returns process. The click-and-collect area is towards the rear of the ground floor and feels quite separate from the shop, but has its own exits, ideal for picking up bulkier goods. It took just under two minutes to reach and just under three minutes to receive my parcel. There was a seating area and screens to browse. The staff were friendly and the collection point well-manned. 

Cons There were no obvious cons, though despite being perfectly polite, the sales assistant who brought my product didn’t provide any information on returns, tell me where I could try the product on 

or try to encourage me to continue shopping. JK 

Debenhams

334-348 Oxford Street, London W1      

Score: 6/10                  

Debenhams click and collect

Debenhams click and collect area boasts its own changing rooms.

Pros

It is easy to order online. You do have to enter your email address but can continue as a ‘new customer’, and next-day click-and-collect is free. Selecting a store is easy, you just type in your desired location. Once I had paid and verified my card details, I received an email explaining my purchase should be ready for collection by noon the next day, but that I would receive an email to confirm in case of delay. The email didn’t provide a map showing where the collection point was, but it did say it was on the fourth floor. I then received a further two emails, the second reconfirming my order and the third explaining it was ready to collect. In store the collection point is well integrated, with its own area but not boxed off. The collection point had two members of staff to help, and two dedicated changing rooms, one of which has disabled access. There are also kiosks, which I could have used to purchase more goods. Not that I would have had time – it took just 32 seconds to receive my goods. 

Cons Receiving my goods may have been quick, but the collection point is a fair trek away from the entrance. It took just under four minutes to reach from entry into the store, and most of the journey was spent on the escalators, so there wasn’t even the opportunity to browse other products. JK

Office

190 Oxford Street, London W1    

Score: 6/10                   

Click

A longe queue and shoes that didn’t come in a shoe box saw Office lose out to rival Schuh.

Pros

After selecting my shoes I was given the option to ‘quick buy’, which added the item to my bag. A pop-up appeared asking if I wanted waterproofing spray or heel grips. While this sales tool could annoy some, it did save time looking for these products on the site. I entered my email address and was given three options: standard delivery, next-day delivery or click-and-collect, and selected the latter. I had the option of choosing from a drop-down list of stores or to enter the postcode. I chose Oxford Street and viewed the Office store on a map. I selected the store and proceeded without having to create an account. On completion of the order I was given a reference number and asked if I wanted to sign up for an account. Once in store I found the desk, which serves as the click-and-collect point, within half a minute and my order was brought to the counter less than three minutes later.

Cons While click-and-collect is free, it is not available next day. The best Office can guarantee is within three working days. There is no dedicated click-and-collect area, so I had to queue at the till, which could be time-consuming on a busy day. Once the shoes arrived at the till, I was asked to sign two forms to confirm collection, which seems like an unnecessary amount of paperwork. I was disappointed to find the shoes were not in a shoebox, but simply wrapped in tissue paper. CR

New Look

203/207 Oxford Street, London W1        

Score: 6/10              

Pros Ordeing online is quick and simple. It does automatically select home delivery but advises that other options will eb available at check-out, which they are. UK click-and-collect is free, with delivery time advised as three to five working days. The email after care is really good. I recieved three emails telling me my order was confirmed, on its way, and then delivered. Then once in store, the route to the click-and-collect area on the second floor was well signposted. The staff were also very friendly, and although it took around four minutes to reach and queue to get my goods, once I was served it took just under a minute to be handed my package.

Cons You have to spend over £19.99 for free click-and-collect and wait three to five working days for collection, which isn’t as fast as some of the other retailers we profiled. We returned all the goods we bought for this feature immediately after purchase and it was fine at every store, apart from New Look. The sales assistant explained I had to wait 25 to 30 minutes after collection before their Epos system would allow me to return. This is really inconvenient, and must be for lots of customers, and as I couldn’t wait, will require me to return to the store once more. JK

House of Fraser

318 Oxford Street, London W1    

Score: 7/10                    

Click

House of Fraser’s click-and-collect service was efficient with good customer service.

Pros

House of Fraser offers free next-day click-and-collect if ordered by 10pm, which is great for anyone rushing to place an order late in the day. Having added my item to the bag and proceeded to checkout, a drop-down menu gave me a choice of delivery options, and I was able to continue as a guest rather than signing in. The website offered the option to click-and-collect or Collect+ from a number of locations. I was able to locate the Oxford Street store by inputting the postcode, town or city name. After submitting my card and billing details, an email confirmation came through instantaneously with a section suggesting similar styles I might like. The email said my order would be available from 12pm the next day. Once in store the collection service was slick. I waited just one-and-a-half minutes to receive my parcel after my details were entered on an iPad. The sales assistant was helpful, opening the parcel to check the order was right, showing me the receipt and explaining the returns process. 

Cons It took three minutes to find the click-and-collect area on the second floor. The area is at the back of the womenswear section and has no dedicated changing rooms, so I would need to find changing rooms elsewhere on the floor. There was a single seat available while the order was processed and no screen to shop while I waited. CR

Orders were placed on Tuesday May 5 between 5pm to 6.30pm, for items under £30. Watch us chat about our mystery shop experience here.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Great review, and a timely one to do given the focus C&C is getting.
    I did a similar exercise during Peak, and the experience was unsurprisingly much weaker, as retailers haven't yet redesigned the service to support the volumes.
    We've built out a 50 point checklist for the service design, as the above captures how some of it manifests, but the challenge for retailers will be how to do c&c in an operationally efficient way and profitably, given average orders are lower, and few have cracked how to do the upsells. This is especially challenging for John Lewis' deliveries into Waitrose, or M&S into the Simply Foods, etc where the smaller footprints make the back of house very difficult.
    We're about to publish our review of 58 fashion retailers, and only 6 scored above 8 out of 10 for fulfilment. While the digital experiences on the web are becoming increasingly well optimised, carrying the service design through into the store experience has lagged. And with John Lewis's click & collect at 56% of all online orders, and others even higher, this must be a focus for retail operations as we think about Peak 2016.

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  • 'Click and collect' has been designed by online and head office teams and clearly not store teams.

    Hence the lack of up selling and low scores above.

    It simply takes the cost of delivery (via a 3rd party) off the balance sheet of the online business and hides it within the store overhead (e.g. manual handling; sales space rent; returns handling; etc).

    Stores also have lower returns as customers try on before they buy. However online returns are much higher. Store staff know this and therefore don't want customers to 'try on'.

    All the above before you understand that many retailers systems take returns off store daily sales targets. Once again depressing results in store (and killing staff motivation with it).

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  • Hi Drapers,

    You should also consider scoring in provincial stores. Smaller stores have less frequent deliveries each week. For some it's once a week. When I worked in flagship stores in Marble Arch they were still only 3-4 times a week (though more during seasonal peaks).

    I placed a 'C&C' order thru an Evans store on a Monday without knowing they have 1 delivery a week, which happened to be a Tuesday. This meant they were unable to achieve the 3-5 day leadtime they advertised when I purchased.

    I should add the Store Manager was excellent in investigating and explaining the problem and then trying to make my order from her stock in store.

    I also congratulate Arcadia for their systems that clearly gave the Store Manager transparency to help me.

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