As the retail sector has adapted to meet the demands of Internet-based commerce, many retailers have found home delivery to be expensive and unprofitable. Free delivery may close the deal but what does it actually cost the retailer to ship to personal addresses? Probably far more than that £3-5 P&P charge…
New Delivery Models for the age of Internet commerce
To address this, many traditional retailers have integrated with their existing operations to provide “Click and Collect” services whereby customer deliveries are sent to a nominated store. Sometimes this is done well. Other times the divide between the online business and the brick and mortar stores is painfully obvious – particularly when handling returns.
Meanwhile, Internet-only retailers have created pick-up points (e.g. Amazon), partnered with retailers (e.g. eBay and Argos/Sainsburys), or developed premium services (e.g. Amazon Prime) to subsidise delivery. Others (like Doddle) have created a business model around providing somewhere to have parcels delivered for collection on the way home from work.
Charging for Click and Collect?
Whilst charging for delivery is commonplace (perhaps with free delivery over a certain threshold), one major UK retailer (John Lewis) charges for Click and Collect under a threshold value of £30. Their systems have the business intelligence to email me after failing to complete a transaction but sadly not the intelligence to understand why that might be (a £29.90 order that attracts a £2 click and collect charge, when a £30 order would be free).
This was my response, by email – and now here in public:
“Dear Sir or Madam,
Earlier today, I received the email below, based on a transaction that was not completed. I would complete my order, if it wasn’t for your policy on Click and Collect. My order is 10p short of your threshold for free Click and Collect.
Because you will charge me £2 for this, I will simply purchase elsewhere. I can have free shipping with Amazon, to home. Or I could just walk into your store and hope you have stock…
I understand that shipping to home is unprofitable – that’s why many retailers offer free Click and Collect and charge for home delivery. Charging for Click and Collect is short-sighted and, frankly, not acceptable. You have deliveries to store anyway, whilst it costs me to drive to you, then you charge me £2 for the privilege!
I would much rather support John Lewis than a faceless US-based Internet retailer and I urge you to reconsider your policy on charging for Click and Collect – not just for this transaction but for all customers, all of the time.
I could buy another item to take me other the limit. There are even threads on Internet forums advising of the cheapest item to buy! I could even return the extra item immediately after collection (increasing costs to John Lewis as they process a refund). All of this is gaming the system though and it increases friction in the transaction, which translates to inconvenience to me as the customer.
Call to Action
If you, like me, feel John Lewis needs to take another look at its Click and Collect policy, feel free to use the text above as the basis for your communication. Contact details for John Lewis are on their website (or you can email Customer Services directly). The John Lewis Partnership website also has a list of Directors who manage John Lewis’ commercial activity and develop the strategy and business plan for the company.