Click and collect via lockers cannot succeed in isolation

In response to a post on Marketing Week’s Twitter account reporting Asos chief executive’s vow to “never open a bricks and mortar store” one reader exclaimed “What about the real world experience!”

Russell Parsons

For ASOS, of course, offering “the real world experience” has never been an issue. It is resolutely online only and is doing very well as a result thank you very much. 

The new front in the battle for dominance and presence between the UK’s biggest supermarkets has now entered the (un) real world.

This week Asda announced a deal that takes its click-and-collect service to tube stations across London for the first time. Commuters travelling through 6 stations can use Asda’s app to make same day orders from their local collection point. How very modern.

Asda is not stopping there. The deal with TfL is part of a wider plan to increase the number of click-and-collect locations from 218 to over 1,000 in the next five years.

Apart from satisfying what it and other supermarkets see as a consumer need for convenience and multiple channel options, Asda is taking its brand into parts of the country it cannot reach.

It is using click-and-collect as a platform for breaking into parts of the UK where its market share is low and it is under represented in the physical world but where it claims consumer demand is high. London, with its highly concentrated population and the majority of its population’s plentiful disposable income, is a priority. The aim is to increase access to Asda’s service to 70 per cent by 2018, up from the 53 per cent it is today.

Why bother going through the laborious and expense process of planning and building stores, or finding increasingly scarce space to expand its convenience footprint – still under represented in the South East – when it can bring the Asda brand right to where customers are every day.

It is not alone in launching such services. Waitrose launched automated temperature-controlled lockers for customers to collect the shopping they order online in locations where the supermarket does not have a store in July. 

Expect others to follow suit. As I say, it is the new frontier. One note of caution, however, and I will return to the concerns expressed by our tweeter.  If click and collect is the only channel customers engage with the relationship will remain tenuous. Online derived exchanges are usually secondary or complementary to the “real world” experiences not of themselves.

Asos works because it has developed its proposition and marketing from the off around being an online-only retailer. Click and collect in store or online deliveries are the by-product of a relationship fostered in physical stores. 

Click and collect in a locker cannot succeed in isolation. 

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