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How click and collect could deliver boost to high street

The service that involves shopping online and then picking your item up in local stores or lockers is becoming increasingly popular. Vicky Shaw looks at the possible fringe benefits for retailers

Home help: click and collect avoids parcels being left at your door
Home help: click and collect avoids parcels being left at your door
Home help: click and collect avoids parcels being left at your door

By Vicky Shaw

Busy lifestyles and the move to online shopping have transformed the way we go about making purchases. And one of the ways in which our habits are changing is a growing appetite for 'click and collect' services - where items bought online are collected in local shops or lockers.

As stores gear up for the busy Christmas shopping season, here's a look at why the popularity of click and collect is growing - as well as how it could boost the high street.

How popular is click and collect?

More than two-thirds (68%) of shoppers are now choosing to pick up items bought online in store, according to Barclaycard, which commissioned surveys of consumers and retailers.

Barclaycard's findings follow predictions earlier this year from analytics company GlobalData that the UK click and collect market is set to grow to be worth nearly £10bn by 2023.

The convenience of click and collect - when many people may be out at work and unable to take deliveries - is a strong part of its appeal for consumers. Over two-fifths (42%) in Barclaycard's research rely on these services because they're out during the day. And one in six (15%) favour it, as they cannot receive deliveries while at work.

How can click and collect help retailers?

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One side-effect of the popularity of online shopping for retailers is the high numbers of returns - some of which may not be re-saleable.

Barclaycard found more than three-quarters (77%) of retailers say providing click and collect services actually reduces the volume of returns. This saves stores the cost of processing refunds and re-stocking.

Click and collect can also have other positive benefits for stores. For example, when customers come in to collect, they may also look at what else is on the shelves.

Barclaycard's research found that 85% of customers buy additional items when using click and collect.

So, what are retailers doing to meet demand?

Nine in 10 (90%) retailers are intending to invest in the service over the next five years, according to Barclaycard.

Indeed, 87% say click and collect is their fastest growing delivery option. And some retailers are innovating by clubbing together.

John Lewis launched a five-store click and collect trial with the Co-op in May and has extended this to a further 50 Co-op locations. This trial follows a successful partnership with food store Booths. John Lewis orders can also be collected at locations across Northern Ireland through the Collect+ delivery service.

The business is finding that many click and collect orders are from new customers.

Eva Cullen, partner and head of customer fulfilment operations for John Lewis & Partners, says: "Our click and collect service is growing in popularity every year, as our customers benefit from the ease of being able to pick up their order at a time and place which is convenient to them."

Barclaycard found 60% of consumers want to see more businesses teaming up. Kirsty Morris, the director of Barclaycard payment solutions, says: "Not only does click and collect offer merchants the opportunity to increase sales, our research shows it can improve the overall customer experience as a complement to online shopping, while reducing return volumes too.

"With the retail sector facing unprecedented challenges, investing in click and collect partnerships should be part of a long-term strategy for retailers, to encourage shoppers into stores and respond to the changing shape of the nation's high streets."

Is there any other positive news for the high street?

Despite concerns about the 'death of the high street', analysis from Which? found the personal touch provided by some traders and shops has helped them thrive.

They include markets, tattoo and piercing parlours, beauty services, funeral directors, tea rooms and cafes.

Which? suggests that UK high streets need to become wise to the unique role they can play in consumers' lives, offering services which attract people into town centres.

Harry Rose, editor, Which? magazine, says: "As shoppers' needs and habits evolve, it's vital that businesses keep up with these changing trends and consider how they can grow with them, in order to continue thriving on the high street."

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