This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Click and collect is a retail fulfillment strategy that allows shoppers to buy online and pickup their purchases in-store (or at another collection point). This hybrid ecommerce model—also known as BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store), BOPAC (buy online, pickup at curbside), and curbside pickup—streamlines the trade process for both merchant and customer.
For independent retailers, accepting online orders for in-store pickup is an effective way to boost sales and increase customer satisfaction by making it easier for shoppers to buy. It enhances convenience, enables safer transactions, and requires less labor than traditional retail sales, while saving on the delivery time and shipping costs associated with ecommerce orders. The click and collect model can be used by both small startups and large, established businesses.
This article will cover everything you need to know to make click and collect work for your business.
How Does Click & Collect Work?
Customers use the service by placing an order through the store’s website or mobile app. Usually their payment is processed when the order is initially placed, but some businesses offer the option to pay at pickup.
Store employees then gather the selected items from inventory, prepare them to be picked up, and notify the customer when the order is ready.
Once notified, the shopper visits the pick-up point and shows their order confirmation to staff members. The purchased items are handed over to the customer, and the transaction is complete.
Retailers can choose to offer pickup at various locations—whether in-store or curbside. In-store pickup usually takes place at a centralized checkout, but many large businesses minimize lines by directing customers to a designated BOPIS register.
Sellers without a dedicated brick-and-mortar store can offer click and collect services through lockers or pop-up shops.
Did you know?
The popularity of click and collect skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic: Shoppers spent $72.46 billion on click and collect purchases in 2020—a 106.9% growth rate over 2019.
As safety concerns move out of focus, click and collect continues to be one of the leading online options driving the growth of fast-moving consumer goods.
Benefits of Click & Collect
Retailers use click and collect for its ability to:
Here’s a close look at the main ways that click and collect benefits both you and your customers:
This fulfillment strategy eliminates the cost and hassle of shipping for both parties.
Customers can do their shopping from anywhere by ordering online and, in many cases, orders are available for same-day pickup without the wait or shipping cost of standard ecommerce delivery.
At the same time, retailers don’t need to worry about shipping costs and labor eating into their margins. Click and collect or curbside pickup is less expensive than packaging and shipping orders or delivering them via courier.
For products like flowers, produce, or baked goods, click and collect also prevents items from damage or spoiling in transit.
Customers benefit from click and collect because it’s convenient: they’re not waiting for items to be delivered, and they know the products they need will be available at the store when they arrive.
According to Digital Commerce 360, 50% of consumers cited convenience as the main reason for choosing curbside pickup. And 46% choose curbside pickup because they like that it saves time.
The convenience provided by click and collect, as discussed above, can help retailers capture more sales and make a more positive impact along the way. This improved buying experience serves both you and your customers.
Plus, retailers still benefit from their customers physically visiting the store—which can result in additional impulse purchases and opportunities for upselling. Business Insider Intelligence reports that 85% of shoppers have made an additional in-store purchase while picking up an online order, with 15% of shoppers doing so “somewhat frequently.”
Picking up orders in-store also works to reduce returns because customers are viewing the products in-person before bringing them home.
Pinch Spice Market is a small business that sells primarily online. It introduced curbside pickup when it noticed a portion of local orders could be fulfilled more affordably than shipping via USPS. Curbside pickup was so popular that the company took inspiration from Amazon and introduced locker pickup as well.
“This helped us continue our daily production and online order fulfillment, as we weren’t rushing to meet customers outside as much, which—while we were so very grateful for the business—was not easy to manage when you’re just two people running a rapidly growing business,” says co-owner Meaghan Thomas.
How To Set Up Click & Collect In Your Store
Launching click and collect is simple, cost-effective, and comes with minimal operational changes.
Setting up click and collect requires a designated ordering system, space in your store, clear procedures, trained staff, and feedback to fine tune the process.
Here’s how it’s done in 5 steps:
Establish an Ordering System
Most retailers create an online store, website, or branded app to collect orders. Some businesses also choose to accept orders over the phone.
You can use a third-party app like Postmates to get online quickly—but this method is more common for restaurants and cafes.
For retail customers, the best way to order online is often through a website or branded mobile app. If you want to offer click and collect orders, it may be worthwhile to build an online store and enable in-store pickup as a delivery method. Most popular ecommerce platforms and some website builders—like Shopify and Square Online—have features to add an in-store pickup option on the checkout page.
The fastest and most affordable way to take your business online for click and collect orders is with Square Online. Square Online offers a free online store and checkout page where you can list products for sale and allow customers to choose a fulfillment option.
It allows you to customize settings like curbside pickup options, designated pickup hours and order windows, order prep times, order-ready customer notifications, and whether or not shoppers can schedule pickup times.
Set an Internal Process
Once your website is set up to take orders, establish a process for managing orders and letting customers know how to pick up their purchases.
Set clear expectations around order processing and turnaround times, pickup deadlines, and step-by-step pickup instructions. For example, will the customer’s order be waiting for them in a display case? Should they approach the register and give their name or confirmation email? Is there a designated parking spot?
Tip: If you sell apparel, cosmetics, or other items with a high return rate, encourage shoppers to test or try-on their purchases before leaving—if you can provide a safe place for customers and employees alike.
Exchanging the product before the customer leaves the store increases the odds of being able to restock the item.
Designate Space in Your Store
Once you’ve decided how you’ll accept and fulfill orders, the next step is designating a space to store orders until they’re picked up.
You’ll want to choose a space that’s easily accessible to employees yet still protected. This could be behind your checkout counter or in a designated area in a back room.
If you choose to store pickup orders in an inventory room or back office, don’t forget about your sales floor. You don’t want to keep associates busy picking up curbside orders from the back when there are unattended shoppers. This increases the amount of time it takes to help each customer—which is not ideal for high-volume businesses.
Create a Pick-up Procedure
Once you’ve designated a storage space for pickup orders, determine how customers will collect them.
If your store is high-volume, it may be most efficient to have a separate line in the checkout counter just for pickups—or even do everything on a curbside basis. However, if you have a smaller store or only a few employees on staff at a time, it could be better to integrate order pickups in the regular checkout line.
Whatever you decide, use clear signage to let customers know where to go and what to do—like in the examples shown below.
In-store or Curbside Pickup?
After setting a process for in-store pickup, consider whether you will also offer curbside pickup.
Curbside pickup was on the rise before COVID-19, but has exploded since then. The Shopify’s Market Insights team found that 38% of all shoppers plan to continue using curbside pickup. It has become a popular option that adds a level of convenience for customers on the go, those with mobility issues, and shoppers who prefer not to go inside the store.
Curbside pickup is a version of the click and collect fulfillment method in which a customer doesn’t have to leave their vehicle to receive their orders. Typically, an associate will bring the products out and either hand them to the customer or place them in the vehicle for a contactless exchange.
If you decide to offer curbside pickup, indicate on your digital receipts and checkout screen how shoppers should contact you when they arrive. Most small businesses prefer that customers call the store. However, you might prefer a live-chat system within your point-of-sale (POS) software or even a tool like Facebook Messenger.
In addition to the logistics of physically getting customers their orders, you’ll also need to set policies for staff and shoppers alike to make your processes work:
- Processing and Turnaround Times: How long will it take to pick and package an online order so it’s ready for pickup? Who will be responsible for receiving and putting together these orders?
- Order-ahead Time Frames: How far in advance can customers place an order for pickup? Keep in mind how orders that are paid for but not yet collected could impact your inventory management process.
- Marking Orders as Complete: Customers will likely pay for orders as they place them online. You’ll need to figure out how to designate in your POS system when a customer has collected a paid order. Creating a standardized process will mitigate confusion between employees.
- Unclaimed Orders: Set a plan for how you’ll remind customers to pickup orders and how long you’ll hold unclaimed purchases. For unclaimed orders, determine whether you’ll refund the shopper or repackage the order once your customer is ready to pick it up. For example, some repair shops will consider items left for more than 60 days abandoned. Whatever your policy, it’s important to clearly communicate it to shoppers so they know what to expect.
- Customer Notifications: How will you keep customers notified when orders are ready or if there are any changes to their order? Collect multiple contact methods—like an email address and phone number—from each shopper so you have more options to reach them. This process is easier if you use a POS and online ordering system like Square or Shopify that can automatically track customers.
Train Your Staff
Now that you’ve created an organized system for collecting, managing, and handing off click and collect orders, hold a training session with your staff.
Run through the procedures a few times to make sure they are comfortable and knowledgeable on all the processes—and take time to answer any questions.
Since store associates are the front line of your business and closely in tune with your customers, they will be able to offer suggestions and improvements to make the process faster and more efficient.
Gather Customer & Employee Feedback
After implementing click and collect orders, gather feedback from customers and employees to help fine-tune the process.
Post-purchase email surveys are one of the best ways to collect customer feedback (instead of chatting in person or waiting for social reviews to come in) because shoppers are more likely to provide honest feedback.
The Future of Click & Collect
As the global retail ecommerce market continues to grow, click and collect trends show that the hybrid fulfillment model is here to stay. It is estimated to currently account for 10.6% of total US ecommerce sales, and that number should steadily climb.
Click and collect, BOPIS, and curbside pickup generated $83.47 billion in retail sales last year—and that figure is expected to grow by 21% in 2022. Stable growth is projected for the following years, as well.
Although it was popularized in the abnormal retail landscape brought on by COVID-19, click and collect maintains traction as shoppers return to their standard behaviors. A recent survey by Numerator shows that two-thirds of shoppers who used click and collect for the first time during the pandemic plan to continue using it post-COVID.
This makes it an important option for retailers to offer to appeal to modern shoppers and stay competitive.
As the trend of click and collect and curbside pickup continues to grow rapidly, implementing this method of fulfillment is a great way for small businesses to increase revenue and customer satisfaction.
The data doesn’t lie: Consumers are interested in click and collect, and it’s up to small businesses to take advantage of the opportunity. Solutions like Shopify and Square come with built-in features to manage all of your online and in-store orders in one place—including options for click and collect.
If your store doesn’t have a website, you can build one for free in just a few minutes using Square Online. List your products, enable Square Payments, and configure your order pick-up settings to start processing online orders today.