Operators need to give more thought than ever to the layout of their shop in order to accommodate a new omni-channel business that includes walk-ins, click and collect customers and delivery drivers
At Churchill’s site in Eastbourne, 66% of its business is walk-ins, 13% click and collect and 21% delivery, and all three work seamlessly together.
Walk-ins have the choice of counter service or self-service kiosks, while click and collect have their own lane and collection point. But the best part is that the delivery drivers go virtually unseen, using the back entrance to the shop, which eliminates the hustle and bustle and that feeling that in-store customers are any less important than virtual customers.
It’s this flow of the shop that Barry Dickman, owner of shopfitting company BD Signs and B Digital, says is so important for operators to get right if they want to keep customers happy. He comments: “With the new era of click and collect and delivery, customers have numerous choices as to how they use your business, but the most important choice is still ease of use. So when laying a shop out it is important to consider that the same consumer will now visit you and either look at the menu and order, pick up a collection or maybe negotiate delivery drivers. So you still need to prioritise the customer’s experience.”
One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to remove delivery drivers from entering the shop, as in Churchill’s case. But if you don’t have easy access to the rear or a set up that easily facilitates this, another option is to reglaze part of your window to form a hatch where all click and collect and delivery drivers can collect their goods from. If it gets too busy with deliveries, operators have the option of reverting click and collect to inside, leaving only delivery drivers waiting at the window.
“The reason you should look at removing the driver from the customer experience,” says Barry, “is that some drivers may look or act intimidating because they have to create a living from delivering goods as fast and efficiently as possible so at times they may not be as courteous to your customers as they are so focused on their task.”
Having a hatch at the front of the shop is something The Bay Fish & Chips in Stonehaven, Aberdeen, introduced during lockdown to keep customers out and staff inside safe. With customers back in the shop, the hatch is prioritised for click and collect customers and its delivery driver.
Owner Calum Richardson comments: “We’ve dedicated a whole area where one person can control the dishing up and bagging up of click and collect and delivery orders on their own. They pass it out the hatch and off they go.
“What it does is eliminate customers getting in a queue for 20 minutes when they don’t need to and it stops those customers in the queue getting annoyed because they think folk are trying to skip the queue. For a tourist spot like me, it’s perfect, because I find I lose a lot of my locals over the summer because they couldn’t get near the shop, but this way I can deal with both perfectly.
“Even deliveries are easy because our driver stays in his car until we press ‘ready’ on the app and then he gets out and comes to the hatch. He doesn’t have to set foot in a busy shop.”
There is something to be said for having your click and collect point in store, however, as it provides an opportunity to generate impulse sales or for customers to pick up items they may have missed off their order. In this case, have your high-impact advertising right where the click and collect point is and ensure your collection point is nearer to the beginning of the queue than the end.
BD Signs’ Barry adds: “With good signage – a very simple arrow hanging from the ceiling will suffice – you can drive click and collect consumers to the front of the counter. This way they don’t walk through a queue and they avoid the feeling from other customers that they are queue jumping.”
It’s not only customers you need to think about when it comes to shop layout. In July last year, Paul Francetti completely overhauled the layout of his takeaway and 50-seater restaurant in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, to give staff more space to package up the growing number of deliveries. Paul switched from a counter range to a wall range, which gave him a 6m stainless steel counter with two serving areas – one for handling walk-in customers and the other for the deliveries.
Paul comments: “It was something I was very apprehensive about because I’ve always had counter ranges. But it’s given us so much more space now and made the whole takeaway so much brighter.”
He adds: “There’s no hold-up when serving takeaway customers and deliveries because staff have their own stations. Before, if we were serving a couple of deliveries and a customer walked in, we couldn’t do both which meant we ran the risk of upsetting the walk-in customer. We just don’t have that problem anymore.”
Chris Frangeskou, owner of Fish King in North Hykeham, Lincoln, has also changed the layout of his shop, putting in a dedicated click and collect entrance door and swapping his range that ran lengthways to an island range and counter that now span the width of the shop.
This created more space behind the range where three staff now handle eight to ten click and collect orders every ten minutes.
“The money we take on a Friday we would struggle to do that without click and collect and the layout changes,” says Chris. “It’s given us a lot more space, we don’t get in each others way, it’s been such a great change.”
What ever changes you make to your business it is always important to remember your in-store customers, stresses Barry, adding: “These are the customers that have made the effort to come to you, so they should always be prioritised.”