Retailers are being warned to plan carefully to avoid delivery failures and breakdowns in their supply chains in the run-up to Christmas, as experts predict an unprecedented demand for click-and-collect services.
Earlier today, Debenhams revealed it has given more space to click-and-collect in stores and upgraded systems to speed up the process after it struggled last year to keep up with demand last Christmas.
“”Click-and-collect made up 7.4% of online sales two years ago and increased to 22.3% last year. Now with our improved service we expect it to grow much more. We have introduced a next-day service and extended the cut-off time for home delivery to 10pm, which will increase our competitiveness,” said chief executive Michael Sharp.
Also this week, Amazon revealed it is hiring an extra 13,000 temporary staff to handle the Christmas surge while, in its full year results on Tuesday, Asos.com announced it has plans to significantly increase its number of collection points and hinted at an upcoming trial with “major high-street retailers”.
In recent weeks a number of businesses, including Mulberry, have launched click-and-collect services, while John Lewis, House of Fraser, Asos.com and Amazon have all ramped up their delivery options. In September French Connection opened its first click-and-collect shop at London’s Old Street station, which will run for four months.
It comes as research by ecommerce agency Ampersand published this week found a third of UK retailers are not properly prepared for the pre-Christmas rush.
James Timberlake, head of marketing at logistics operator DX, said the Christmas period could test retailers’ supply chains as never before, as companies juggle home deliveries with in-store collection capabilities.
He said: “There’s possibly an overreliance on click-and-collect at Christmas because people can’t risk not getting goods on time, and there’s a recognition that home delivery isn’t always as it seems.”
Philippe Gouzes, vice-president of sales and European managing director at clothing and watch retailer Nixon, which opened its first UK store last week, said the company was taking steps to ensure it didn’t “run dry” on its bestselling products.
“It’s a big challenge at this time of year,” he said. “To prepare for the jump we’ve been planning ahead to be able to fulfil our consumer demand and monitoring how our products have been performing. We are watching carefully to make sure we can supply our ecommerce platform and stores.”
A report out this week by retail analysts Conlumino and eBay predicts a 40% yearly increase in the volume of goods ordered online and collected in store this Christmas.