A third of people who used Click and Collect services over Christmas say they had problems with their orders. The massive boom in Click and Collect that has seen 41% of people use it over the past year has also appeared to overwhelm retailers.
The second annual JDA/Centiro Christmas Customer Pulse report found that Click and Collect usage was up from 39% of people to 41%. Some 56% of people said they used it to avoid delivery charges while 49% said it was more convenient than waiting in for a parcel. One in four said they actively chose a shop because it offered Click and Collect.
It also revealed three main problems suffered by shoppers. Some 31% of people said there was no dedicated Click and Collect place in store, which caused confusion and delays. Meanwhile 31% of people said there weren't enough staff available to help, so they had to wait too long, and 24% of people said staff struggled to find their orders.
Social media is rife with complaints about shortfalls in Click and Collect. On the Argos Facebook page one user posted yesterday: "Ordered an item and reserved for collection. Had a message to say item was available so walked into town to collect, to be told there was a problem with the reservation and actually the item wasn't available in any store."
The John Lewis Facebook page, meanwhile, features the experiences of another shopper who went to her local Waitrose to collect lamps, which were meant to be delivered by 2pm that day. Staff told her they had been overlooked, so she cancelled the order. When she returned home, she received an email refunding the original payment - but not the £2 Click and Collect fee.
And the Tesco Facebook page recounts the saga of a woman who placed a Tesco Direct order on 1 January to be delivered to the Hull store on the 5th. When she called on the 6th she was told the parcel was 'lost in transit' and was now out of stock, so would have to be refunded - which takes five working days.
As she put it: "So essentially I have just given you a pay day loan, so to speak. I pay for something, you don't send out the goods and I'm out of pocket for 14 days while it's sorted. Once again Tesco I applaud your excellent customer service."
Stores need to improve
Jason Shorrock, vice president of retail strategy at JDA said it was essential these services are improved, explaining: "Shoppers are showing a growing preference for Click and Collect as it offers them the convenience they crave, and it is vital that retailers get it right. Without the effective management of staff, stores and inventory, retailers risk damaging customer relationships."
Click and Collect will have to be much more efficient in future if it is to deliver on expectations, because increasingly customers are being charged for it too. John Lewis was one of the most high profile retailers to introduce a charge for orders under £30 - in July last year, and it will be followed by Tesco Direct in February this year. While customers may be irritated by hiccups in a free Click and Collect service, when they have paid for it, they are likely to be even less forgiving.
Unfortunately, if you're sick of problems with Click and Collect, the study showed that you are unlikely to benefit much from choosing home delivery next year instead. Over Christmas it found that 48% of people had either had late deliveries or items had never shown up, while 48% had missed a delivery that came while they were out.
But what do you think? Do these services work for you? Let us know in the comments.