Tuesday Jul 07, 2015

Would you pay for click-and-collect?

Last week, The Guardian reported that UK retailer John Lewis is going to start charging for click-and-collect services for orders under £30.

John Lewis processes more than 6m click and collect orders a year, compared with 350,000 when it launched in 2008, the article reported. The retailer found that it was not sustainable to continue offering the free service for small and inexpensive items.

John Lewis managing director, Andy Street, said: “We are sure customers will understand why we are doing this. There is a huge logistical operation behind this system and quite frankly it’s unsustainable. We consider ourselves to be leaders and we want to take the lead on this.”

There is no doubt that click-and-collect is here to stay; a recent survey by IMRG (IMRG eDigitalResearch eCSI Click-and-Collect Survey January 2015) suggests that 73% of UK shoppers have used in-store click-and-collect or reserve and collect, with another 10% intending to try it in the near future. Oracle’s own research report Delivering Retail has revealed a doubling of consumers who are buying online, and collecting in-store.

However, John Lewis is not in fact the only retailer that is currently charging for click-and-collect services. Out of 350 UK retailers with an online presence that we tested for our Delivering Retail report, 43% currently offer click-and-collect. 85% of this sample do not charge for this service. Surprisingly, 15% of the tested UK retailers do in fact charge.

Here is who charges what:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch - £10.00
  • Topshop -  £3.00
  • Boots -  £1.95
  • Camper -  £7.00
  • Carphone Warehouse -  £1.00
  • Claire’s Accessories -  £1.95
  • Direct Golf -  £2.99
  • Dorothy Perkins -  £2.95 (for Express)
  • Evans -  £2.95 (for Express)
  • Hollister -  £10.00
  • Paperchase -  £2.99
  • Pull and Bear -  £3.95
  • Sports Direct -  £3.99

In fact, 1% of the retailers we tested charge customers up to £14.99 to pick up their products. The vast majority of those that charge for click-and-collect (6%), however, charge up to £4.99.

According to our research, the 85% of retailers that offer the service for free is down from last year’s 96%, showing that more retailers are finding it difficult to offer the service for free. And as online and in-store shopping is converging, we can expect to continue to see a rise in the popularity of click-and-collect.

Considering the decline of the free service, what charges would customers deem acceptable and be willing to pay?

Those that order small items such as lipsticks for click-and-collect may not do so solely due to convenience, given they will still have to make the trip to the store. It is likely they order online due to a lack of availability of said product in-store.

This raises a question - should product availability be the customer's or the retailer's problem? Do you, as a customer, support John Lewis' vision for charging for the delivery of small items?

Tuesday Jan 06, 2015

John Lewis Warns on Black Friday, Highlights Importance of Store

Yesterday in an interview with the BBC, John Lewis managing director Andy Street questioned the benefits of the Black Friday sales frenzy for the UK retail market. The famous US shopping event, which traditionally takes place the day after Thanksgiving, could have a negative effect on the Christmas sales period as well as put retailers’ back end operations, such as online deliveries, under pressure, he says.

Black Friday definitely became ‘a thing’ in the UK this year. On Friday the 27th of November, shoppers across the country pushed their way into stores in pursuit of the hottest deals – some more vigorously than others. Whether this type of sale brings out the best in humanity is an entirely different question - from a retail perspective, the results stood out: John Lewis reported its biggest trading week on record, with sales up 22% on last year.

Sales in the week of Black Friday outpaced the week of trading in the run-up to Christmas for John Lewis. The overall total sales in the five weeks to Christmas fell by 1.4% compared to 2013. Online purchases rose by 19% in comparison with 23% in 2013, suggesting Black Friday did indeed play a role in the fall.

However, these figures in no way suggest that Britons’ shopping habits are shifting away from the high street, as suggested by the Daily Mail. Black Friday highlighted the importance of the store (or how not to behave in one), and Andy Street believes that “the role of the shop is absolutely critical in providing the online sales.” In fact, click-and-collect represented 56% of online sales, overtaking home delivery, and pointing to the significance of the store in both online and offline sales.

The lesson we need to take from these statistics is that the key to driving retail sales lies not in one channel, but in the convergence of all. Andy Street believes having a store presence is key to winning internet customers, as they would often browse products in store before placing an order online. Or, as proven, purchase online but pick up in store. The experience of visiting a store and being able to feel and try products will not go out of fashion, however an increasing number of options and convenience means consumers don’t HAVE to decide on a purchase right away. Commerce anywhere, in our definition, is being able to blur the lines between a consumer’s digital and physical shopping journey.

"My personal hope is that this is the high water mark for Black Friday”, said Andy Street. “I don't think we can put the genie back in the bottle but do we need to stoke that fire anymore? I personally hope not," he added. It will be interesting to see how UK retailers respond to Andy Street’s warning. Already, googling “Black Friday” results in a message from Argos encouraging you to sign up to their email list to make sure you don’t miss out on 2015 Black Friday deals – crafty!

What do you think? Do we need Black Friday in the UK? 

Wednesday Oct 22, 2014

Amazon’s Same-Day Click and Collect & John Lewis Railway Stores – How Retailers Are Responding To A New Retail Democracy

Online retailer Amazon announced its partnership with newspaper and magazine wholesaler Smiths News last week, in order to launch a same-day click and collect delivery service for its customers. The new service will allow customers to collect orders placed in the morning after 4pm in the afternoon on the same day, at one of 500 locations.

Next-day delivery has been a standard industry offering for some time but by presenting customers with the opportunity to collect their purchases the very same day, Amazon has demonstrated a commitment to facilitating customer choice and convenience by providing the ‘always available’ option.

Offering a same-day collection or delivery service requires sophisticated operational organisation and investment- every aspect of the supply chain has to function in seamless unison to enable rapid order fulfilment.

The significance of Amazon’s new service is clear - if consumers can receive an item from an alternative supplier on the day of purchase then they will certainly shop elsewhere. In the modern retail industry, the connection between supply chain and execution must be fast, integrated and customer-focused to avoid losing out to the competition.

John Lewis is also listening to consumers’ needs for convenience in their shopping journey and has ventured into new territory with opening its first ever railway station store at St Pancras International in London. John Lewis and Amazon are demonstrating that the ability to provide a variety of convenient purchase channels and delivery options is now common place.

The challenge for retailers that want to be successful is to recognise that consumers want options when it comes to collection or delivery of their orders. In our 2014 research report “The New Retail Democracy”, we saw that 93% of UK respondents will not wait for an out-of stock item and 90% will source the product elsewhere.

To deliver democratic retail, a retailer’s priority is to provide commerce anywhere. To enable this, retailers must focus on integrating business processes and aligning their operations with the needs of the individual consumer, in order to stay relevant, competitive and deliver on the brand promise.

To learn more about our New Retail Democracy research please visit here.

Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

Oracle Retail Industry Forum: Exclusive John Lewis Store Showcase Announced

We are excited to announce that attendees of the Oracle Retail Industry Forum, Europe, being held in London on the 15/16th October, will be invited to an evening event at John Lewis’ flagship store on Oxford Street.

The store showcase will commence at 5pm in the Brasserie on the third floor, where John Lewis Oxford Street Managing Director Simon Fowler will welcome attendees. Simon will share store history, including John Lewis’ commitment to “Never Knowingly Undersold”, guaranteeing customers a lifetime of quality, price and service. He will then introduce John Lewis IT Director Paul Coby, who is leading the modernisation of the IT infrastructure to deliver an omni-channel customer experience.

Attendees will also have the chance to:

  • Explore the store and experience the unique John Lewis service culture
  • Discover first-hand how John Lewis is supporting their customers with the provision of 'Commerce Anywhere'
  • Hear from senior directors within the John Lewis Partnership
  • Meet with the suppliers and sample champagne, wine and cheese in the 1,530 square meter food hall
  • Visit the recently refurbished beauty department where you can enjoy a mini make over teamed with a pre-dinner cocktail

John Lewis is the largest department store retailer in the UK, with 39 stores and a growing online business at JohnLewis.com. The company passed the £1billion in 12 months revenue in April 2013, and this year received awards including 'Oracle Retailer of the Year' and 'The Brandbank Multichannel Retailer of the Year' at the Oracle Retail Week Awards 2013; 'Nation's Best Retailer' at the Verdit Consumer Satisfaction Awards 2013; and 'Best Retailer' at the 2013 Which? Awards.

To register to attend the Oracle Retail Industry Forum Europe event, please visit the ORIF Europe registration page.

Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

John Lewis named Multichannel Retailer of the Year & Oracle Retailer of the Year at Oracle Retail Week Awards

John Lewis achieved a double success at the recent Oracle Retail Week Awards, being named Multichannel Retailer of the Year in addition to scooping the Oracle Retailer of the Year award. Getting the multi-channel experience right for the customer is a significant challenge in modern retail. Winning both of these awards compounds the importance of multi-channel in delivering a consistent, exceptional and individual experience in retail today.

British consumers expect value, choice and uninterrupted availability, whenever and wherever they choose to shop. John Lewis has recognised this and has ensured that their offering fulfills the requirements of their customers, whether shopping in-store, online or via mobile. The John Lewis approach to delivering commerce anywhere is exemplary.

In-store, John Lewis has worked to revise their store format to cater for today’s consumer whilst remaining true to their brand values.  British consumers see the store as a vital component of the retail experience. John Lewis has taken steps to make the store experience the differentiator, such as introducing kiosks and providing Wi-Fi for customers.

In terms of fulfillment and delivery, John Lewis offers a range of options, such as click and collect, as well as online and m-commerce with home delivery. The retailer has gone a step further, announcing last year that customers can take advantage of collections through a network of convenience stores, meeting a consumer demand for flexible delivery options. More recently John Lewis customers can now also benefit from a click and collect service where they can buy through John Lewis but collect in their local Waitrose store.

These initiatives also extend to returns, where items bought online or in-store can be returned for free through this network of locations. This offering fulfills the need for another requirement of the British consumer - a simple returns policy, which is seen as a key component of good service.

John Lewis has demonstrated an ability to adapt to changing customer requirements and has shown a strengthened focus to this recently by appointing its first Partnership Customer Insight Director. This focus on the consumer has allowed John Lewis to offer a seamless retail experience across all touch points, extending this into its partner Waitrose, allowing the company to develop their offering as their consumers’ requirements and demands evolve.

With an internet adoption rate of 81.4%*, British consumers have access to vast amounts of product information from multiple sources and consumers can compare retailers in seconds. As such, consumers expect high value, targeted assortments, competitive offers and uninterrupted availability from a retail brand, whenever and wherever they choose to shop. Retailers must therefore optimise their operations to fulfill on the complex supply chain flows to ensure that home delivery, customer pick up or any other option is available if the customer requires. The logistics behind the process matter little to the consumer, they just need to be right to support customer priorities.

John Lewis has shown that it is up to the challenge posed by the modern consumer and I congratulate them for being named both Multi-channel Retailer of the Year and Oracle Retailer of the Year 2013.

*The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All, The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, part of ITU and UNESCO, September 2012.


Everything Retail.

Principal contributors:

Sarah Taylor, Senior Industry Director, Oracle Retail.

Marie-Christin Hansen, Senior Industry Campaigns Manager, Oracle Retail.

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