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Ecommerce: What's next for click-and-collect?

After retail veteran Bill Grimsey doubted the future of click-and-collect, we asked etail experts what they think.

Retailers are constantly looking for ways to improve the delivery options offered to customers. These include click-and-collect, return to store, or the latest scheme being trialled at Asos - Local Letterbox, which sends items to a local ‘parcel pod’.

But at the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) conference in Cirencester this month, retail veteran Bill Grimsey said click-and-collect’s lifespan is limited: “It’s been so popular because people can’t bear the ‘sorry you were out’ slips. Click-and-collect has five more years left before smart depositories at houses - for example, smart boxes that the delivery person and homeowner have code access to - will arrive, and other methods before that.”

So do ecommerce experts think Grimsey is right? See below to find out.

Do you agree that click-and-collect will be gone in five years?

  • Antony Comyns, head of ecommerce, Hawes & Curtis

Antony Comyns

Antony Comyns

I wouldn’t agree with this. Customers prefer to have a pick-up point even more than having [parcels] delivered to their workplace. They like to decide when to pick up, and it is often more convenient to collect close to a station than carry things home from work.
Some workplaces also frown upon employees receiving parcels at work. Where I do think it will change is in the choice of more pick-up points. For example, petrol stations, third-party retailers that aren’t competitors and dedicated parcel collection points in tube and railway stations. This has been tried since the days of catalogue selling, but now looks to be workable.

To date, delivery options such as Sunday and evening delivery haven’t taken off. Is this because the customer doesn’t want to be disturbed once they get home, or because the carriers haven’t given it a chance? I am unsure.

Customers want convenience, and that means we have to give the customer a lot of choice - click-and-collect, time-slotted delivery options, collection points and same-day delivery.

  • Michael Ross, chief executive, eCommera

Michael Ross

Michael Ross

I disagree. The future will be a portfolio of delivery options that will vary by retailer, category and geography. Click-and-collect canoffer great utility - the confidence of delivery, it’s easy to try on and return and so on. It’s too simplistic to say that any one method will win or lose. The future will look more like booking an airline seat where the consumer has to decide to trade off between cost, service and convenience.

  • Briony Garbett, head of ecommerce and customer experience, Oasis

Briony Garbett

Briony Garbett

Delivery will naturally become even more of a fighting ground for retailers and I’ve no doubt that smarter options will be more readily available in five years’ time.

However, click-and-collect will always be an attractive proposition for customers because of its convenience. Collect+ and Amazon Locker follow a similar model, and I’m sure these will still be around in five years too.

I imagine it will get to a point where there is simply a wider suite of delivery choice, probably following a ‘good, better, best’ structure, with some more sophisticated and premium options coming onto the market in the next few years - Amazon’s drone delivery, for example .

  • Sean McKee, head of ecommerce, Schuh

Sean McKee

Sean McKee

He’s properly wrong, I think the combination of mobile, improving inventory control from retailers and changes in customer behaviour mean that click-and-collect is here to stay. I think it will change in terms of the speed of turnaround or time slots that customers expect, but it works because it shadows what people want. In five years, with everything else, I reckon it’ll be a same-day service, if not same hour.

  • Chris Thomas, managing director, Cloggs

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

First, I’d say that any technology or behaviour that lasts five years in this industry is doing very well indeed. It could get replaced sooner, to be honest. We’re looking at some of the locker delivery companies this year, such as ByBox and InPost. These are the more evolved click-and-collect solutions, where customers can collect at their convenience from petrol stations and supermarkets, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I predict people will be able to dictate delivery times and locations through apps or sites on their phones, so their delivery can fit in with their daily timetable. It’s what the courier industry has been crying out for, and this is the customer and courier meeting in the middle for their mutual benefit.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I agree with Bill (just not the smart depository bit), if he is simply talking about clothing.

    Click and collect is not what the customer actually wants. It's just another flawed option.

    However retailers will heavily invest despite this, given it sweats their logistics. It will work for John Lewis, who have more than 10 times as many Waitrose outlets across the UK as they have department stores... Though I can only see advantage for their non clothing goods.

    Clothing wise, click and collect doesn't reduce the dilemma of returns. It just adds complication. For retailer and customer alike. Convenience is perceived, more owing to unreliable delivery services to compare to.

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