Click and collect is one of the biggest retail trends in recent years – customers love the combination of the convenience of shopping online, with the immediacy of collecting in store. Retailers of all types and increasingly of all sizes are rushing to meet this growing customer demand. Like all other areas of retail, it is highly competitive, with big stakes for capturing and retaining customers. It’s an offer that needs the support of the right systems and tools if it is to be a success with customers and manageable by the retailer.
An essential part of the platform to support click and collect is, in my view, a customer facing portal. So this week, I thought it would be useful to take a look at customer facing portals and how they help to deliver click and collect value to customers and to the retailer.
Personalised access - a good customer facing portal enables customers to view and update their personal data. That data might include their purchase preferences, credit card details, delivery address(es), purchase history, loyalty points, and favourite items/wish list.
Direct support – a good customer facing portal may offer an online direct chat help facility for trickier questions, giving customers the immediate support they without the hassle of having to phone and wait. There is nothing more frustrating for the online shopper than having just one question about the product but not being able to get an immediate answer. The right support can therefore be the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.
Engaging experience – a good portal offers the shopper a far more personal and more engaged experience. This in turn leads to an enhanced experience of the brand, which encourages further interaction and generates loyalty and adhesion. It helps turn customers into ‘advocates’ – shoppers who not only love the retailers brand but actively tell others about their positive experience. These advocates not only drive new customers, through recommendation, but spend more themselves with every visit to the store (physical or virtual).
Commitment - In using a customer facing portal, the shopper is investing their time in developing their relationship with the retailer. Some choose to checkout anonymously, but those who take the time to enter, store and maintain their details are implicitly committing to shop with the retailer again, and to building an ongoing relationship.
Self-service - Click and collect shoppers are, by definition, people who are comfortable with self-service and the notion of ‘DIY’ shopping. A good portal is simply an extension of this self-service approach, allowing them not only to select and purchase online, but to self-serve other functions including delivery and payment details and rewards point balances. The portal shows that the retailer supports self-service shoppers and encourages them to continue this buying behaviour.
A good customer facing portal will deliver value internally to the retailer, as well as to the customer.
Control - It will allow a greater level of control and visibility, enabling campaigns to be targeted and run, with detailed reporting of results. A good portal can be managed by the marketing team without intervention from IT, allowing it to reflect changes with the immediacy demanded by retail.
Support - Self-service management of personal details saves time and money in the support team, freeing them up to engage with customers to answer those ‘sale saving’ questions. A good online support team will be able to not only save the sale, but upsell and increase the sale size.
Expansion - For retailers looking to expand, a good customer facing portal will scale with them, and help them move into new countries, with different languages and currencies.
So, as you can see from the above, the benefits of the right customer facing portal are extensive, for the customer and the retailer.
Senior Vice President of Sales for Asia Pacific and the Americas, for CitiXsys, Paula Da Silva has more than 10 years’ experience in the retail industry associated with delivering innovative software solutions to mid and large sized retailers. Known for her strong track record of operational excellence and managing a global ecosystem of technology partners, Paula has been instrumental in building the iVend Retail into a global market leader in the retail industry and plays a major role in the Company’s overall performance.