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[11 comments]

Mall operator puts twist on click and collect program

February 5, 2014

Two retail service providers have found a new way to collaborate for the benefit of retailers and consumers alike. Westfield, a global shopping center group, has partnered with parcel service Collect+ to establish an area in a West London mall where customers picking up online orders can try them on before deciding whether to "collect" (accept) or return the merchandise.

As the popularity of buy online and pick up in-store grows, having a time and place to try on purchases before making a final decision seems the logical next step. In a first for a U.K. shopping center, over 260 retailers are represented, allowing customers maximum flexibility for collection due to Westfield's long opening hours.

Collect+ @Westfield opened January 27 with a dedicated lounge area and changing rooms. Customers designate the mall as their preferred delivery location and receive a text or e-mail to confirm arrival. When they visit the CollectPlus kiosk, they have the option of using a dedicated lounge with fitting rooms. If not satisfied with their purchase, a return can be made immediately. Their first hour's parking also comes free.

"With the growing popularity of click and collect ... at convenient locations such as Westfield, we saw an opportunity to respond to shoppers' needs and ultimately help deliver a seamless experience for customers shopping online and in-store," Myf Ryan, Westfield's U.K. & Europe marketing director, told Retail Times. "Collect+ @ Westfield is part of our broader strategy to deliver digital solutions that enhance the customer shopping experience and drive sales opportunities for our retailers."

With Westfield malls located across the U.S. and Collect+ offering services to most of the country's big name retailers, it may be just a matter of time before these try-before-you-collect areas become the norm.

FINANCIALS:     [ASX:WRT] [ ASX:WDC]

Discussion Questions:

Is there an opportunity for American malls to offer "click and collect" service similar to Collect+ @ Westfield? What would solidify the appeal and value for shoppers?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How likely are American malls to offer a service similar to the online order/pick up program at Westfield London?

Comments:

Now we're talking! Collect+ is absolutely something that should be tested in American Malls ... and malls anywhere for that matter.

The operative word here is TEST. Instead of just "trying out" something new, retailers and malls need to do some aggressive A/B testing on what works to change both behaviors and outcome results.

Collect+ seems to have all the marks of a winner on the surface. The competitive advance of the local retailer is have the physical goods present for consumers to touch and feel, plus the first-hand service experience. These can't be delivered on Amazon, especially for categories like fashion.

But every benefit can be abused. What if a host of abusive customers use Collect+ simply to try on garments to get their right size ... and then go order them at a cheaper price online? My prediction is that the "lounge" and associated experiences will be just as important, if not more important than the ability to try on garments.

In retail the devil is always in the details of execution. These days, the retailers focused on details of the social/experiential aspects of retailing are winning.

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Chris Petersen, PhD, President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

With apparel, making sure it fits and looks as good as it does on the web page is intuitively important to the the consumer. To that point, Click and Collect certainly has the potential to lure new customers to the world of online apparel shopping. However, for many, I would believe this process would be too much additional work for them, given if they have to go to the mall to pick up the item, try it on...it would seem to me to be easier just to shop the traditional in-store way.

Personally, if I order online, it's due in large part to not wanting to drive to the mall or the store. I am not sure I would see the advantage of Click and Collect.

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Mark Heckman, Principal, Mark Heckman Consulting

Retailers need to adopt new ways of creating better shopping experiences to differentiate on things aside price, and this seems like a great idea to that end. This service seems especially well suited to time-crunched and online-focused Millennials who have grown up mostly in an online retail world.

When you think how large that demographic is and how averse they are to traditional ways of shopping, retailers would be wise to explore this "click and collect" model - maybe going so far as to open specific locations in major city centers where Millennials seem to be congregating in large numbers. I'm not sure how popular this option would be in a typical suburban mall or department store that attracts more typical Baby Boomer or Gen X shoppers. I guess it comes down to knowing who your shopper is.

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Gib Bassett, Global Program Director for Consumer Goods, Teradata Corp.

Sure, especially as buy online and pickup in store (BOPiS) grows. That being said, this seems very apparel oriented so while an excellent first step, expanding the product categories covered might be worth considering.

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Bill Davis, Director, MB&G Consulting

And why would I want a customer to pick up an order at the mall, but it not be at my store?

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Doug Fleener, President and Managing Partner, Dynamic Experiences Group

I'm not sure this idea deserves any oxygen. It's a cute, girly, fleeting flight of fancy. Severely limited in scope and scalability. Interesting, though, in the short term. Doesn't rise even to the level of a fad.

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M. Jericho Banks PhD, President, CEO, Forensic Marketing LLC

Keeping shoppers in a store/lounge/whatever longer than the time it takes to just pick up an order is a great thing. This presents more opportunities to sell/upsell, etc.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

While this may appeal to some, it defeats the purpose of not having to go somewhere to purchase something by buying it online. If there is a good return policy in place, trying on the item in the privacy of your home and sending it back if it doesn't fit works just as well. Not sure this is going to catch on here in the U.S.

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Brian Numainville, Principal, The Retail Feedback Group

I definitely think there is an opportunity for malls to explore this and similar services. Apparel has traditionally been a difficult online segment for obvious reasons, and this kind of service helps alleviate shoppers' concerns. Overall, I think it's a great value add for shoppers.

For the retailer, I would share similar questions as Doug Fleener in the sense that having the shopper return to my specific store is more beneficial than having them return to the mall in general. On the other hand, the service is a value add, and making the initial purchase happen is the first step. Once the customer is in the lounge, the retailer can find other ways to potentially entice the shopper to come into the store for up-sell opportunities (e.g. gift certificates, discounts on related items, etc.).

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Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi

Definitely. There is so much space in the malls that you can have an Amazon outpost that you can get your goods and then send them back immediately if you aren't happy. Kiosks would allow you to re-enter and boom! Done!

Kate Blake, Social Media Manager, Take Five with Kate Blake

It is quite an interesting service that consumers would like to try, but its usage, I think, will be limited to certain categories such as apparel and online-only retailers. The online-only retailers have more to gain by partnering with this service but, as Doug mentioned, why would a brick-and-mortar store retailer prefer a customer going to mall vs. coming to their store?

Also, this service could potentially increase the number of returns as consumers would now order more, try out, keep the one that they like and return the rest. This can impact the planning aspects for the retailer.

Sarat Burle, Consulting Manager, Cognizant Technology Solutions

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