France has long been a country of click and drive in its grocery sector but now, with the development of e-commerce, a growing number of retailers are turning to click and collect.
Demand is on the rise among consumers. Research from the Federation of E-commerce and Distance Selling (FEVAD) shows that 38 percent of consumers have used click and collect on 2017, some 2 percentage points up on 2016.
Cost is a big driver, says Cédric Ducarrouge, retail director at JLL France. “Unlike delivering goods to a home or office address, collecting them in-store is free,” he says. “Moreover, click and collect gives consumers more flexibility to pick up packages when it’s convenient to them, rather than adhering to strict delivery slots.”
But it’s also a good option for retailers. “For many retailers, city center delivery have become a headache,” says Ducarrouge. “Local authorities are looking to reduce the amount of traffic on the road. However, urban deliveries must be made by road. Meanwhile, retailers can’t afford to put lots of delivery vehicles on the road because it simply becomes too expensive.”
Click and collect, therefore, provides a convenient solution for retailers whereby goods ordered online are shuttled directly to stores once a day.
It’s also an increasingly popular delivery option for e-commerce brands. Amazon is installing unmanned lockers in 980 French stations, enabling online shoppers to pick up their packages 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, supermarket giant E-Leclerc has taken the idea a step further with refrigerated lockers for grocery deliveries in southern France.
However, that doesn’t mean that click and collect is right for all online goods. “We must distinguish between the different types of products bought online,” says Ducarrouge. “Retailers selling bulky items still need to deliver to shoppers’ homes. They may be able to buy a sofa online or go into a store to try it out but it’s unlikely they can carry it home.”
Building on drive and collect
For many shoppers, click and collect can become an easy part of their weekly routine, with the click and drive model offered by French supermarkets a prime example.
“Click and drive works well because people can integrate into their commute,” says Ducarrouge. “For example, they can easily pick up their order after leaving the office.”
Click and drive has seen its popularity soar in recent years, with the number of sites offering the service increasing to 4,421 across the country in May 2018, according to Nielsen France and FEVAD. For E. Leclerc, click and drive accounts for 50 percent of total sales.
Yet it’s not a model that works for everyone – especially those living in city centers who may not have access to a car. And so, home delivery is developing new models with online partners. Monoprix, for example, has joined forces with Amazon to curate an online store with more 6,000 products. Amazon Prime members can then select their goods and have them delivered to an address in Paris in less than two hours.
Impacting physical stores
As e-commerce becomes a bigger part of the shopping experience in France, online and offline channels are no longer as separate as they once were. Many shoppers still like to spend their leisure time browsing in store – as well as online – but now they may also order goods to be collected during their shopping trip.
And city center retailers also stand to benefit. Research from FEVAD shows that 33 percent of online shoppers have gone on to make additional purchases when collecting their online order.
“The rise of click and collect is helping to boost the turnover of bricks-and-mortar stores, and supporting their e-commerce efforts,” says Ducarrouge. “It’s the main reason why many clothing retailers are pushing click and collect as a delivery method by offering it as a free service.”
It also has implications for the size of stores. “Click and collect lets retailers stock smaller quantities of products in store so they require less space but their sales per square meter actually increase because they’re feeling the combined benefit of online and offline sales,” says Ducarrouge.
This in turn can even help smaller retailers who have been struggling against their larger competitors – and rejuvenate some of France’s urban centers in the process.
“It potentially supports the return of smaller retailers to France’s city centers which wouldn’t have been possible without leveraging the benefits offered by e-commerce,” concludes Ducarrouge.