How Retailers Can Make Money Online

May 23, 2017

Mobile and online shopping has become the latest craze in the retail industry. Many stores offer a variety of ways for their customers to shop, like Click-and-Collect shopping experiences where they purchase products online and either pick up in-store or get it delivered  to their home or other preferred locations. Customers are loving the convenience and it’s gaining more and more attention, especially in the US market.

Recent studies show that around 20% of US customers use some sort of Click-and-Collect service and that number is expected to grow even more. The studies also show that 50% of consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer if they could buy online too. So, it’s of no surprise to see more and more retailers diving into eCommerce and creating innovative solutions for their shoppers.

The challenge for retailers is how to integrated this into their current operations and how to maximize the potential for their online solution. So, how can retailers make money with an online solution? We’ve got three core recommendations that will get you off on the right foot.


When launching a Click-and-Collect service, it is important to utilize existing assets first before building new, often expensive facilities. Most retailers have stores and these are often in dense populated locations close to the end consumer. They are often also close to smaller format stores that a retailer might have. To really capitalize on existing assets, start by utilizing the larger format stores and set them up as mini-warehouses where you can pick, assemble and store products until the customer either comes to collect, or the products are ready to be delivered. These larger format stores can also be utilized to pick for smaller stores so customers can collect their order from the smaller stores, without breaking their inventory. The better you can ‘sweat’ your existing assets the higher the chance of turning an online solution profitable.


A mistake most retailers make is that they want the new operation to fit into their existing processes. However, the e-commerce operation is completely different from traditional retail, as it is extremely fast paced, constantly changing as customers become more and more demanding, and different from existing traditional processes. So, it is important to recognize the differences and recruit specialists to develop and implement the new process. There are all sorts of new services and features customers are looking for in their online solutions, like shorter delivery windows, smaller baskets (customers might want to just pick up their dinner or lunch rather than a full $125 basket), easy payments, easy amending and deliver whenever, wherever and however the customer wants. Many of these services have never been part of the traditional operation before and retailers will definitely need to take a closer look at how to accommodate a much more demanding environment.

In order to successfully integrate the new operation into the traditional business, it is also important to have a structure that support this. Successful integrations will take effort from everyone, including the key business owners and legal teams, but it’s also important to ensure it integrates into the company culture as well. A dedicated team of specialists can develop and deploy the new standard operating procedures, and help the existing teams develop new functionalities that meet all of their customer’s demands. For example, paying online may be a new feature to the organization and will have to be developed by the specialists team, who will need to consult the existing owner of the POS to ensure they are complying as much as possible with the traditional process and ensure that things like reconciliation are set up appropriately.

Raising awareness of the Click-and-Collect operation in your organization throughout all levels is another extremely important step in the process. You want your entire team to be just as excited about the new online solution as you are! Explain to store and leadership teams what these changes mean to them and how this is impacting their roles and responsibilities. Make them accountable and responsible for the success of the execution of the new service. Stores where leadership and teams are fully engaged perform up to 50% better than stores where the teams are less engaged or aware.

It is also important to understand that existing store processes will have to be adapted to the new service. Currently, many retailers have their availability (in stock) at their peak around 9 or 10 in the morning. However, the online picking teams often start their operation around 6 am in order to have the first orders ready for pick up at 7 or 8 am. Availability is often extremely poor around these times, impacting the productivity negatively and resulting in poor customer satisfaction. As such the ‘operational’ clock will need adjustments.


When grocery shopping online, it’s all about simplicity. It’s important to focus on the most important part of the ordering process rather than on more ‘sexy’ functionalities. The ability to search, for example, is extremely important and organization should take the time to ensure that it works properly before launching any online solution. Prioritizing necessary functionalities is extremely important to offer customers the best shopping experience. It’s important to understand that a normal online grocery basket is around 40 items and as such the ordering process should be made simple so the customer can fill their basket with all these items as quickly as possible. ‘Frequently bought’ and ‘Favorites’ are often used tools to help with this but their are many more options.

Simplicity is key!

This thinking should also be applied to the mobile ordering process. Often mobiles are used for editing current orders rather than placing the full initial order. So, it’s important that the customers find it easy to edit their orders in a simple way.

Customers are looking for simplicity, relevance, and trust….all of this whenever, wherever and however they want through a seamless experience and across channels. Easier said than done, right? When you consider these three tips, you’ll have an online solution that your customers will love AND that will allow you to make money in the process.