Click & Collect (CnC)

The search for efficiency within the last mile continues to evolve as innovative strategies take shape to meet growing consumer demands. CnC, broadly speaking, involves any fulfilment process in which the consumer orders an item online and travels somewhere to pick it up.

As you might expect, CnC does not have a fixed operational model nor is it necessarily tied to a traditional store footprint. It can involve going to a traditional store or picking up at dedicated lanes outside of one. It can also include getting items at lockers or drive-through convenience stores including gas stations or a concierge at condos. A modern logistics strategy needs agile last mile solutions.

Golden Rule #1 Store pickup set to be the primary model (2)

Several factors are involved in the 20% growth forecasted for online groceries. Many retailers are using their store networks to offer convenient collection options that are often free or low-cost, which are proving popular with shoppers. Tier 1 grocers like Walmart recently opened its 1,000th grocery e-commerce pickup location, while Kroger operates over 650 pickup locations. The report concluded: “We expect this to be the main channel for grocery e-commerce in the US.” No doubt, other channels will emerge. It's important to consider e-commerce channels with lockers which are further developed especially in China (Hive Box), but also in France (LockTec), England (InPost) and Germany (DHL). 

Golden Rule #2 Automated Locker pickup set to be the primary tool

Many retailers are entering the channel through partnering with third-party companies, including Instacart and Shipt, requiring relatively lower capital investment. While an “easy” low capital entry point, the strategy gives away business control and especially the fundamental last mile engagement value to another company. This points to the importance of doing e-grocery fulfillment right from the start, with the right strategy and tools for the last mile.

New technologies have an important role to play in the e-grocery space, revolutionizing both how products are ordered and how they are delivered. Optimizing pick and load (labor) with automated tools, developing high standards for all processes and then using the data learned to optimize for dark store e-fulfilment. Shipping accuracy is now a critical part of the buying experience for shoppers.(3)

Automated Locker System (ALS) is a cost effective and customer preferred solution to enable the CnC channel. They can be positioned inside the store for the BOPIS model [Buy Online Pick Up IStore], near the entrance of the store or shopping mall, or BOPOS model [buy online with pick up outside the store] at convenient, path of travel locations, with a dense network of lockers where people work, live and play.(4)

Golden Rule #3 Automated Locker Systems and technologies that are Blockchain ready.

Automated Lockers are an e-food enabler as part of a distributed, transparent, autonomous system for exchanging value as part of the preparation for a Blockchain radical change of the economy. (5) A distributed database for all Automated Locker Systems (ALS), located at Points of Consumer Convenience (PoCC) in a dense network, is used to maintain a continuously growing list of customer-driven records (what, when, where, how), called ‘locker blocks’.

The transparency that helps to manage e-food uncertainty is governed by personal attributes, food sources, transportation visibility and essentially value controls at every step of the movement from food producer/processor to fork. ALS fits into a blockchain model as a tool enabling the authentication of trust, transparency and flow of information without institutional regulations.

Golden Rule #4 The Customer Journey is the Whole Experience of a Company

When and how is my parcel arriving?

The dreaded waiting. This key anxiety is what on line business needs to address. It’s about an end-to-end process but especially knowing that your parcel has been delivered safe and secure (no porch thieves), ready for you to pick up at a locker location of your choice, totally reduces this key anxiety of “waiting”. And it’s not just about the “last mile”. It’s more than the convenience of physical end-points, with delivery to home (even people’s fridges!), lockers, drive through, or in-store pick-up locations. E-fulfilment with the customer at the center (customer-centricity) is transparency and visibility into the whole logistics process. This makes the consumer experience more compulsive, with higher enjoyment and repetitive. We can even add obsessive. Obsession may be the right additive to change human behavior towards the new daily routine of efficient locker pickup locations.

How fast can I get it (as long as it’s on my terms)?

The availability of same-day delivery is actually expected to further support e-commerce adoption of fresh and perishables. The urban rush for 2 hour services may further drive the online sale of product categories not yet bought online on a large scale (such as groceries). Let’s be clear that speed touches every aspect of the e-fulfillment value chain, not only the last segment of delivery. Voice activation and dash buttons are part of this faster is better journey. But speed without the right values of quality and last mile satisfaction breaks the happy customer value chain every time.

So how do we embrace the long tail of customer-centric logistics? Avoid the last mile? Create a next generation infrastructure that reflects a new business model? The consumer revolution has already begun with emerging digital platforms for connected and secure collection points for e-grocery driving the Golden Age of the Consumer. ALS is a core channel for agile last mile solutions. It’s a key component for increasing the consumer’s emerging power with higher standards and expectations while eliminating the dreaded waiting with when and how my parcel is arriving.

Notes:

1.    "Golden Age of the Consumer”, according to the World Economic Forum’s groundbreaking new report: Shaping the Future of Retail for Consumer Industries; Recent article on e-grocery in Germany: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/egrocery-germany-market-study-syndy-pieter-van-herpen/

2.    https://retailanalysis.igd.com/news/news-article/t/us-grocery-ecommerce-offers-20bn-growth-opportunity/i/17621 utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=news&utm_campaign=us_grocery_ecommerce_20222_news&utm_content=us_grocery_ecommerce_20222_news

3.    IBM published a report stating post-purchase experience, or the delivery promise, has the power to make or break a consumer’s relationship with a brand. Customer expectations with fast, affordable delivery requires creating both agility and accuracy in the last mile that’s key to the brand.

4.    “Innovative strategies within the last mile that have taken shape in dense global industrial hubs include multi-story warehouses, locker/pick-up locations and infill service centers.” CBRE Research: Last Mile City Logistics, July 2017 [emphasis mine].

5.    Selected BlockChain readings. http://futurefoodtechnyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Blockchains-and-Food-Security-in-the-Supply-Chain.pdf

https://qz.com/1060607/supermarkets-are-now-using-blockchain-to-keep-food-fresh/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/22/ibm-nestle-unilever-walmart-blockchain-food-contamination.html

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