When COVID-19 blindsided the world, businesses, especially those that are built around brick and mortar stores, needed to make drastic pivots in their sales strategies to continue to thrive during these unprecedented times. Enter: eCommerce.

As many companies have adapted their strategies to the aggravating conditions caused by COVID-19, it is not surprising that eCommerce has grown tremendously over the past 24 months. In fact, according to Statista, eCommerce sales in Europe increased by over 20 percent in 2020, more than double the year-over-year increase from 2019 before the pandemic hit. Over the last few years, European eCommerce revenue has exploded and will continue to do so as we head through the rest of 2022 (from $320,585,000 in 2018 to an expected $500,750,000 in 2022).

Especially those that leveraged their modern headless technologies and flexible shopping systems to offer convenient services and safe shopping experiences such as Click and Collect were able to rise above their competition and make it through the worst part of the lockdowns.

What Is Click and Collect and How Does It Work?

Click and Collect is an interchangeable term also known as “buy online, pick up in-store,” or “curbside pickup,” and has become a popular way for customers to shop online with their favorite brands or local businesses.

Customers simply place their order for various products through a vendor’s eCommerce website or mobile app and go collect their order in person at the store during opening hours. During the acute phases of the pandemic, demand for Click and Collect was so high that the pick-up times were limited to certain time slots per customer. In addition to Click and Collect, Click and Reserve and Click and Meet have become popular eCommerce strategies.

When customers use Click and Reserve they simply reserve products online to examine or try them on in-store, before paying for them. With Click and Meet, shops offer the possibility to book private shopping experiences, which was particularly convenient during times of contact restrictions. Both Click and Reserve and Click and Meet help provide customers with the best possible shopping experience by catering to individual shopping preferences.

Why Has Click and Collect Been Such a Huge Success?

As European consumers were forced to stay home during the lockdowns – without access to shopping malls and their favorite local stores – they had to adjust accordingly. eCommerce and services like Click and Collect made shopping in a relatively unstable and uncertain world feel more accessible and consumer-friendly. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, many people rated Click and Collect among other things as very safe, faster than in-store shopping, and less stressful, according to a study conducted by Deloitte.

Some other advantages worth noting: Click and Collect usually means considerable time savings for customers – instead of having to pick out products one by one in the store, they are already packed and ready for them to collect. Your customers also save on additional shipping costs and can optionally benefit from in-store advice from your staff. By offering the option to Click and Collect or Click and Reserve, you also cater to ROPO customers – users that like to “research online, purchase offline”. Accommodating these customers and addressing their needs in the customer journey will not only increase your sales with this target group but also contribute to higher customer loyalty.

Plus, there has also been a major shift in consumer interest regarding environmental friendliness, eco-consciousness, and supporting businesses that operate sustainably. Click and Collect gives customers peace of mind knowing they can pick out exactly what they need from the convenience of their home, while still supporting their local businesses and saving emissions by getting the goods delivered to only one place, i.e. the store/pickup location. Thus, Click and Collect fits right into the sustainability trend, and we anticipate that we’re just seeing the very tip of the iceberg.

What Does the Future of Click and Collect eCommerce Look Like?

Now that Click and Collect has become a mainstay in eCommerce, we’ll likely see the service evolve into even more areas of our everyday life. For example, we expect that Click and Collect will:

  • Expand to use local stores as fulfillment centers for online orders. While local businesses struggle, this would keep staff employed and productive during the low-volume season.
  • Empower and encourage brick and mortar store employees to sell online products in addition to their in-person offerings.
  • Allow businesses to sell remaining store stock online.
  • Enable businesses to process exchanges from online orders in-person rather than forcing online returns. Vouchers can be issued at the point of sale, rather than requiring customers to ship products back to sellers.
  • Increase in-store purchases, as customers might buy a couple of things more when they’re already in the store.

A Sustainable eCommerce Service for the Future

The pandemic is no longer at the forefront of our daily lives in the same way it has been for the last two years, so businesses need to prepare to return to some sense of normalcy. But: Click and Collect is here to stay, and consumers will inevitably favor and support companies that make online shopping with in-store or curbside pickup seamless and frictionless.

However, the basis for a successful implementation is your underlying technical infrastructure: a functioning shop system that supports services such as click and collect and provides a seamless omnichannel shopping experience for your customers. Consider introducing technologies such as a POS app: With such an app you can refine and allocate products, monitor your inventory and warehousing, coordinate shipping and fulfillment, view orders and returns, and track reservations and pickups. Ultimately, it comes down to smoothly connecting your online and offline activities across devices and stores to provide a great shopping experience.