By Jess Heald on Tue 02 December 2014 in Topical
There’s no doubt that online shopping has become an increasingly popular method of shopping...
With an influx of shoppers visiting stores in the weeks leading up to Christmas, shopping in store can be very off-putting, and the new consumer of today is looking beyond this to meet their needs. It’s becoming increasingly clear that John Lewis are able to give their customers the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of… convenient and flexible. Proven by the fact that they expect click and collect to completely overtake home delivery as the delivery service of choice for its customers this Christmas.
John Lewis are recognised for their outstanding customer service, and in recent years have adapted to their customer’s changing requirements to reflect this online. Not only is there the option of home delivery, but their click and collect service, introduced in 2012, allows their customers to order online and choose from many of the participating John Lewis or Waitrose stores to pick up the goods at their convenience. Last year, the company said that the growing popularity of this delivery option played a vital part in its strong Christmas performance. According to BBC News, sales from click and collect last year jumped 60% compared to 2012, with online sales up by almost 58% during the festive period – and this year, John Lewis aren’t expecting anything less. According to analysts at Verdict Research, click and collect sales as a whole are expected to rise by 82% in the next five years.
The sister grocer company Waitrose in turn reap the benefits of this service. With John Lewis shoppers opting for picking up their purchases from their local Waitrose store, this is again ticking the box for convenience as they can do their food shopping at the same time. As well as this, opting for click and collect is usually free meaning customers do not discover high shipping costs at the checkout.
With both John Lewis and Waitrose stores staying open on weekends and in evenings, customers are able to pick up the goods at a time that suits them. We’ve all experienced the delight of waiting in all day for a parcel that will be delivered ‘sometime between 10am and 5pm’, or even the ‘sorry you weren’t in’ note shoved through the letter box. Click and collect erases this inconvenience. In addition, from a business point of view, John Lewis realises it means potential extra purchases and upselling opportunities in both the John Lewis and Waitrose stores when items are being collected. It really does embody the phrase ‘any product, anytime, anywhere’ which today’s customer is demanding.
What does this mean for you?
Ensuring you are adapting and responding to your customer needs is a fundamental part to being an SME, as you need to be able to compete with the bigger and often better known brands like John Lewis. It is therefore essential that you cater for your customer’s needs to help secure a long-standing relationship with them.
A click and collect service may not be ideal in your particular industry with the type of product/service you’re selling, but the principle remains. Moving online allows your customers to shop at their convenience, which tends to be out of normal working hours for most. This gives your customers more time to browse and potentially buy more products at their leisure, similarly to when John Lewis customers pick up their purchases at their local Waitrose, they may buy a few more items than planned. Many SMEs have expressed their doubts to us about moving online. The common objections are ‘my customer likes the personal service they get when ordering on the telephone’ or ‘but I don’t think they’d want to buy online’ amongst several others. But in reality more and more of us are choosing the online route. Having a service online gives your customer the option of ordering online, which will free up your telesales teams to use their time more effectively. Making your website user friendly and tailored to your audience’s needs whilst still providing the same great experience of your offline customer service means you are in fact more in tune with your customer’s needs. Introducing an efficient process online is now becoming essential for businesses, regardless of size.