A store associate interacts with a Reserve and Collect customer as part of an omnichannel strategy that brings together the benefits of online and in-store retail
7 min

How Reserve and Collect can boost your omnichannel strategy

One innovative, customer-centric solution that has recently gained prominence as part of an omnichannel strategy is Reserve and Collect. This service allows customers to seamlessly navigate between online and physical shopping, providing the widest array of product choice with the unique advantage of in-store collection and trial – without upfront payment.

Let’s see how it works.

Reserve and Collect overview

Reserve and Collect is a customer-centric service that bridges the gap between online and in-store shopping experiences. Customers can browse a retailer’s product catalogue from the comfort of their homes, selecting items of interest and reserving them for collection at a physical store or designated pickup point.

This revolutionary concept acknowledges the importance of physical interaction with products, allowing customers to inspect and evaluate their selections in person before making the final payment. Reserve and Collect transforms the shopping journey into a dynamic, multichannel experience.

All about convenience

At the core of Reserve and Collect lies convenience. This service addresses the contemporary consumer’s desire for connected shopping experiences, seamlessly blending the online and offline realms to cater to those customers who enjoy the ease of online shopping while valuing a tangible, hands-on store experience.

The convenience factor extends beyond the virtual shopping cart. Customers can transition seamlessly from checkout to in-store collection, with digital-in-store solutions enabling store associates to provide an efficient, personalised pickup service.

The significance of Reserve and Collect becomes even more apparent when considering the meticulous decision-making process of modern consumers. This service empowers customers to make informed choices, ensuring that the products they select online align with their preferences and expectations upon physical inspection.

Why implement Reserve and Collect?

Meeting customer expectations for convenience and flexibility

Reserve and Collect aligns seamlessly with customer expectations for convenience and flexibility in their shopping. Customers have the freedom to explore a complete catalogue at their own pace, make product selections, and then choose a convenient time and location for trial in-store.

This convergence of digital and physical channels caters to the preferences of a wide range of customers. Whether they prefer the ease of online browsing or the tactile experience of in-store product assessment, Reserve and Collect meets and exceeds evolving customer expectations in the omnichannel era. This allows businesses to cultivate customer loyalty and satisfaction, fostering a positive perception of their brand.

Increasing sales opportunities by driving customers into stores

One of the strategic advantages of Reserve and Collect is its potential to encourage more customers to visit physical stores. The online-to-offline transition drives foot traffic, presenting valuable opportunities for additional sales. As customers visit the store for order pickup, there is an increased likelihood of upselling and cross-selling complementary products.

The ability to interact with customers in person provides a unique advantage. Knowledgeable staff can offer personalised recommendations, enhancing the overall shopping experience. This not only contributes to increased sales opportunities but also strengthens the customer-brand relationship. By leveraging the in-store visits prompted by Reserve and Collect, businesses can increase their average basket size and maximise revenue.

Reducing retail returns through physical product inspection

Returns are a common challenge for e-commerce businesses, often stemming from mismatched expectations or defects in the received products. Reserve and Collect addresses this issue proactively by allowing customers to physically engage with products before making the final purchase. This hands-on experience significantly reduces the likelihood of returns due to customer dissatisfaction.

The ability to inspect products in-store empowers customers to make well-informed decisions, ensuring that the purchased items align with their expectations. This not only streamlines the overall shopping process but also contributes to a reduction in return rates. By minimising returns, businesses can enhance operational efficiency, mitigate associated costs and cultivate a positive reputation for reliable product quality.

The Reserve and Collect process, roles and challenges

1. Item selection:
Customers embark on their retail journey by exploring the retailer’s comprehensive product catalogue through their website or mobile app. Detailed product information, images, prices and availability empower customers to make informed selections. They add desired items to their virtual shopping cart, creating a curated list of products.

2. Reservation:
During the checkout phase, customers specify their preferred pickup location, typically a physical store or designated pickup point. This step is crucial as it sets the stage for the in-store experience. Customers also choose a convenient pickup date and time slot, tailoring the process to their schedule.

3. Notification:
After successfully completing the reservation, customers enter a phase of anticipation. The Reserve and Collect system, intricately linked with the retailer’s Order Management System (OMS), sends notifications via email or SMS. These communications include order confirmation, pickup details and timely reminders, keeping customers informed and engaged throughout the entire process.

4. Collection:
The end of the Reserve and Collect process occurs at the designated pickup time. Customers visit the chosen location to collect and review their reserved items. To facilitate a smooth pickup experience, they may need to present a reservation code, order confirmation, or other identification.

Importance of real-time inventory visibility

The harmonious execution of Reserve and Collect relies on the synchronicity of real-time inventory visibility. OMS integration ensures that the inventory is dynamically updated, preventing overbooking and stockouts. This real-time insight is crucial for maintaining the delicate balance between customer expectations and operational efficiency. It guarantees that customers can only initiate orders for products currently in stock, avoiding disappointments and delays.

Importance of store associates 

Every customer interaction becomes an opportunity for store associates to provide valuable guidance. Armed with product knowledge and a commitment to customer satisfaction, associates offer personalised assistance at the point of pickup. They become guides in the retail landscape, helping customers navigate product choices to make the right purchase decisions.

In the Reserve and Collect model, store associates can engage with customers in a proactive manner. Instead of a passive role in transaction processing, associates can actively offer informed suggestions and recommendations based on a customer’s profile, wishlist and order history. This engagement is not just about completing a sale; it’s about building a relationship. The human touch enhances the customer experience, fostering loyalty and a positive brand perception.

Combatting no-shows

Efficient inventory management hinges on addressing the challenge of no-shows in Reserve and Collect orders. OneStock has implemented strategic measures to minimise these occurrences:

1. Multi-channel confirmation:
OneStock employs a multi-channel approach to reach customers. Confirmation notifications are sent through various channels, including email, phone calls, SMS and even popular messaging platforms like WhatsApp. This multi-channel strategy ensures that customers receive and acknowledge notifications through their preferred communication channels.

2. In-store appointment:
Beyond order confirmations, OneStock’s solution goes a step further by allowing customers to book appointments for in-store tryouts. This innovative feature ensures that the customer’s visit aligns with their availability, minimising the likelihood of no-shows. It transforms the in-store experience into a personalised and scheduled interaction, enhancing customer engagement.

Order Management Systems + Reserve and Collect

An Order Management System (OMS) is not just a helpful addition but an indispensable component in the successful implementation of a Reserve and Collect project:

Role of an Order Management System

Launching a Reserve and Collect project without an Order Management System is akin to embarking on a complex musical composition without a conductor. An OMS acts as the central hub that synchronises the various elements of the retail symphony.

The Reserve and Collect model relies on real-time inventory transparency across all sales channels. An OMS ensures that the online catalogue reflects current stock levels accurately. This is not just a matter of convenience; it’s a strategic necessity to prevent overbooking and stockouts.

Unique OneStock OMS features

  • Multi-product management for an enhanced shopping experience: OneStock recognises that customers often engage in a comprehensive shopping experience, selecting multiple items for consideration. The multi-product management feature empowers customers to efficiently reserve multiple items simultaneously, which can then be easily reviewed or tested in-store at their convenience.
  • Cashier notification system for prompt order preparation: OneStock’s cashier notification system adds a layer of sophistication to the checkout process. Equipped with a real-time alert feature, the system instantly notifies store staff through a pop-up notification whenever an order requires preparation, facilitating timely order fulfilment. The result is not just operational efficiency but a tangible improvement in the overall customer service experience. Orders are prepared promptly, minimising wait times and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Reserve and Collect acts as a bridge that connects the digital and physical aspects of retail, providing a symbiotic relationship between the convenience of online browsing and the tangible experience of in-store product assessment.

If you want to learn more about Reserve and Collect:

Further reading