The high street as we know it may well be a dream of the past, with Britons opting for click-and-collect to avoid lengthy queues when out shopping, new data finds. This comes at a time where non-essential shops are looking to reopen, with many opting for a takeaway service to comply with the social distancing rules.
A new report from e-commerce experience leader Bloomreach finds that ‘click collect essentials’ has become the top search term in the UK in the week running to 2 May. While this shows the high street is still a staple for Britons, it also highlights a need for more clarity when it comes to the companies offering click and collect services, including essential shops such as supermarkets.
The new trend also shows a shift in the role of the high street: consumers have become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping during the lockdown and are now looking for ways to improve the comfort of their in-store experience. They no longer want to comply with lengthy queues outside of shops and at tills; instead, they want to get access to products immediately, buying them online and retrieving them in the shops during their government sanctioned hour outside.
Struggling retailers can benefit from this change in buying patterns to rethink the way they use their high street space. The BRC’s guidelines to avoid providing access to fitting rooms, cafes and resting areas means that many shops can no longer offer the same in-store experience they provided before the lockdown. Transforming some of this unused space into a click and collect counter helps store managers create a new experience that responds to the changing needs of time-constrained consumers.
“Consumers may still like visiting high street shops and may do so again once the lockdown rules relax, but the convenience of click-and-collect is going to become very evident through this stay-at-home period. Even as social distancing rules relax, we will not be going back to normal. It will be a ‘new normal’,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at Bloomreach.
“Even before the pandemic, today’s shopper was after convenience, and now this new pattern which is both safer and more convenient will become the clear norm. For retailers everywhere this requires a rethinking of the store to be less of a showroom, and more of a fulfilment and service centre. Of course, it is critical that the digital experience convey the products and inventory and help the customer understand the opportunity to get the products quickly and conveniently. ”