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Are retailers prepared for an online Black Friday?

Last year, the UK was in lockdown on Black Friday and so non-essential retail stores were closed. This year that’s unlikely to be the case yet, despite this, a recent Quadient survey has found that only just over a fifth (21 per cent) of UK shoppers expect to mostly shop in-store for Black Friday and Christmas. With half surveyed shoppers saying they will do most of their shopping online for delivery or click and collect in store, retailers will be aiming to provide convenient order collection.

Bagging a bargain

Shoppers are choosing online for a number of reasons. Convenience is the most cited, with better prices/deals second and to save time/avoid long queues third. Last year, not surprisingly, Covid-19 restrictions were mentioned by 48 per cent of respondents but this year this dropped significantly to only 22 per cent.

Brits are expected to spend £4.8bn over Black Friday weekend and so the shopping spree that kick-starts the Christmas splurge is a significant date in retailers’ calendars. With online taking such a large chunk of the predicted spend, a number of big brands have already launched their promotions. However, according to our survey, online doesn’t guarantee a hassle-free experience. Over a third (34 per cent) of respondents expect to miss a delivery to home or work that will require re-delivery attempts or a depot collection.

Click and collect grows in popularity

It is no surprise then, that over two thirds (67 per cent) of our survey’s online shoppers use click and collect services, up from 60 per cent last year, with almost a third (32 per cent) saying they do so once a month or more. Gen Z and millennials use click and collect services around once a week, while GenX uses it once every two weeks, highlighting the opportunity to retailers, particularly those targeting younger shoppers, to provide efficient and attractive pick-up options at store.

Click and collect services overcome the problem of the ‘last mile’, when deliveries can fail to reach their destination because people are out when the courier calls. On average, our surveyed shoppers shop online once a week and that can equate to a lot of potential failed delivery attempts.

At best, that means shoppers suffer the inconvenience of rearranging a delivery and waiting longer for it, or going to a depot to collect. At worst, those missed deliveries result in lost or stolen parcels – something a quarter of our respondents have experienced in the last 12 months.

All of which makes for a negative shopping experience that reflects on retailers. What’s more, delivering to individual addresses adds up to a whole lot of cost. Meanwhile, multiple delivery attempts generate more traffic and that does little for retailers’ green credentials.

Improving the click and collect experience

Tackled in the right way, click and collect provides a simple, convenient, cost-effective way for shoppers to take delivery of their goods. Customers wanting to avoid the inconvenience and potential security issue of missing a delivery to home may choose to instead collect their order at the store. However, if they have to queue for a long time there, it defeats one of the reasons why they shopped online in the first place.

Holding items in store certainly delivers a secure experience but juggling collections and in-store shopper service is less than ideal for all customers and staff too.

Instead, intelligent click & collect lockers can streamline the collection process and reduce pressure on staff. When a customer’s order is ready, they are automatically notified by email, or other electronic means, and receive a unique PIN and barcode. They pop along to parcel lockers at the store and put in the code or scan the barcode to open the single locker assigned to their delivery. It’s a secure way for them to take delivery of their items and face-to-face contact is reduced as collecting customers don’t need to be served by staff.

Little wonder then that the most popular reason for using lockers, cited by respondents who use parcel lockers in our survey, was convenience (28 per cent). A fifth mentioned that lockers can be available 24/7, while not being at home was mentioned by 19 per cent and security, 18 per cent.

For the retailer, parcel locker pick-ups reduce costly individual home deliveries that generate traffic and ease the burden of multiple delivery attempts that negatively impact the environment.

As Black Friday and holiday season shopping gets underway, retailers will compete to meet customers’ expectations. How they ensure customers take safe delivery of their purchases is an important final stage in delivering a hassle-free online shopping experience. Simple and effective parcel pick-up helps overcome issues faced by customers for whom deliveries pose a problem and can help retailers cut in-store queues and costly home deliveries.

For more information on convenient click and collect for retail, see parcel locker solutions. You can also access our white paper on the evolving landscape of last-mile parcel delivery.

*Survey of 1,000 general respondents in the UK between 07.10.2021 – 11.10.2021 conducted by Censuswide.