Multichannel retail design for convenience at travel hubs

25th June 2014

Continuing our look at travel retail and multichannel retail design – this week we look at how some retailers have begun to develop ways of blending online shopping with bricks and mortar by providing goods for delivery or pick up at train stations or airports.

Several UK retailers have recently launched click and-collect services which allow consumers to pick up groceries at Tube stations. Supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco are testing click-and collect in station car parks where shoppers and can order their groceries during their commute and collect it at the station. Similarly,  Waitrose have also been experimenting with the use of chilled lockers at railway station. Amazon have observed this trend and are also looking into providing collection lockers at  London Underground stations.

Photo by Jorge Ramírez on Unsplash

Photo by Jorge Ramírez on Unsplash

Tesco’s managing director for London, Andrew Yaxley, describes why they’ve decided to take this multichannel approach: “We are thinking outside of the traditional retail box, which includes growing click and-collect and increasing our investment online.” Tesco currently have six click-and collect stands at London Underground stations and if this test proposition proves successful than Yaxley implies that they will roll it out not only to more stations, but to other urban areas throughout the UK: “The growth in these newer channels does not mean the end for traditional  stores…we know that many customers who shop online also shop at Express stores, buying their weekly shopping online and topping up in store across the week – stores and online really can and do work together.”

Deloitte’s retail practice partner Toby Paxton suggests that by acknowledging and responding to multichannel shopping habits these retailers have helped transport hubs become a bigger part of retail. The convenience of the online experience means that the way that customers are receiving their products is changing and retailers must think creatively and remain agile in order to support these requirements which capitalise on the intersections between the transport and retail sectors: “We’re seeing transport hubs as retail centres in their own right but with very targeted propositions…clearly the omnichannel customer is driving a whole set of different requirements on retailers around how customers receive the product.”

This week another brand has jumped in on the act with Doddle – a joint venture between Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman and Network rail opening ‘click and collect’ stores in 300 train stations within the next three years. Dorfman’s vision for the project is: “…to provide a game-changing service for millions of online shoppers.” The project will employ 3,000 people and aims to invest £42 million in the stores, which will be open 7 days a week. The first store is to open in Milton Keynes and will be focused on online shopping collections and returns from partner stores including ASOS, New Look and TM Lewin. The idea is that people can order online – selecting the ‘Doddle’ option at checkout – and then pick up and if necessary, return the goods as they are passing through on their regular commute. Other station stores are planned to swiftly follow suit, in other areas including Chelmsford, Waterloo and Brighton. Any retailer will be able to offer the service and the venture is already in talks with more retail partners to come on board. Network Rail’s managing director of network operations, Robin Gisby, sums up the idea, suggesting that, “Stations have become more than just a place to wait for or get off a train.”

As traveller numbers continue to rise and retailers continue to adapt and ensure that their formats and fulfilment methods remain flexible, the role of travel in retail can only become more important, if the success and investment in these projects is anything to go by.