Service offerings in retail
Information and advisory services
Personalised, face-to-face advice continues to be in great demand: 70 per cent of surveyed customers like to receive advice in the store before making a purchase.
Click to chat
Customers want to communicate in real time and have questions answered during the purchasing process, even online.
The click-to-chat or click-to-call feature enables online customers to clarify questions directly with a staff member. Many customers make use of such services when they are made aware of them and go on to complete the purchase. This helps prevent a high rate of abandoned online transactions.
Online availability and reservation
Checking online to see if the desired product is available in a particular store and reserving the product for in-store pick-up: the click-and-reserve service is becoming increasingly popular. It has proven successful for companies such as the British online retailer Argos and Apple. Peek & Cloppenburg introduced the click-and-reserve service in Germany in 2011.
This service allows customers to book an exclusive appointment in the store and specify a particular field of interest online. Advice is then provided by a customer manager on-site.
Purchase and payment
Customers can place online orders using QR codes on the product or screens on the sales floor.
Payment via Smartphone
One out of every three smartphone users could imagine completely doing without their wallet and only paying with their smartphone. This was the finding of a representative survey conducted on behalf of the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM). With the corresponding technology, the smartphone can become a mobile wallet, combining various payment and identification functions.
Choice of preferred payment method
87 per cent of surveyed Germans stated that the choice of their preferred payment method is an important requirement when making an online purchase.
Cheque, please! The four most popular payment methods for online purchases:
Delivery and return
Collecting ordered pre-picked goods
A number of retail companies offer this service to their customers in various forms, such as:
"Pick Up Today" service (Walmart)
Customers can order goods online and then pick them up at a local Walmart store, a neighbourhood market or a selected FedEx Office location.
The website www.real-drive.de lets customers put together their purchase and then specify their preferred time to collect the order at a “real,– DRIVE” location. They receive an order number by e-mail, which they then use when collecting their purchase.
For 51 per cent of those surveyed, flexible delivery is important. Concepts that provide various delivery options are especially in demand. One out of every five consumers wants to be able to choose where and when their package is delivered – whether to a neighbour’s house, to a parcel station or on a specific day.
Although only a few retailers offer deliveries on the same day as the order is made (2.8 per cent), more than one third of those surveyed plan to include this option in the future or are at least open to the idea. These were the findings of a survey of around 280 online retailers conducted by ECC Köln and time:matters. Example at Media-Saturn: Media Markt and Saturn already offer express delivery within 30 minutes to three hours in a number of large German cities and intend to introduce this across the country.
Immediate pick-up in store
Examples at Media Markt and Saturn: both consumer electronics retailers offer a special feature in their web shops to check the immediate availability of a product for pick-up at a specified store in Germany. As soon as the customer is informed that the product is immediately in stock, he or she can order the product online and then immediately collect it at the specified store after receiving the pick-up confirmation by e-mail. The customer can pay either online or at the store.
80 per cent of Germans consider simple return options an important requirement when making online purchases.
Delivery directly to the customer’s car
In April 2015, DHL, Audi and Amazon launched a pilot project: making deliveries straight to the trunk of the customer’s car. An app informs the delivery person of the car’s exact location and provides him or her access the trunk of the car. Once the delivery person has deposited the parcel and closed the trunk, the trunk locks again automatically. The owner of the car then receives an e-mail that the delivery has been made.
Service at a fixed price
Whether the delivery, set-up and installation of TVs and household appliances (including disposal of the old appliances and packaging), the initial installation of a computer or on-site computer support – Media Markt’s Power Service offers customers a number of services at a fixed price.
Customer retention through special events and campaigns
In order to give customers new incentives and ideas for their business as well as to inform them about new topics, the wholesaler METRO Cash & Carry is offering culinary workshops and seminars in the METRO ACADEMY.
The outdoor outfitter Globetrotter is taking a similar approach, offering customers the chance to test product functionality first-hand during paddling tours, altitude training or survival camps.