Reimagining Click and Collect in the Post-Pandemic World

April 28, 2022

Reimagining Click and Collect in the Post-Pandemic World

Published by Bryan Leach, Founder and CEO of Ibotta, Inc. 

Click and Collect (C&C), for the most part, was born of necessity but then surged in popularity as people changed their established routines and adopted new ones following the onset of COVID-19.  Providing consumers the option to buy online and pick up in the parking lot was an essential way for restaurants, grocery, and general merchandise stores to safely remain in operation and keep the supply chain flowing during the pandemic.  As mask mandates are removed, and people return to regular work and school schedules and resume in-store shopping, is there still a place for C&C?  Or will the practice fade?

A recent Wall Street Journal article cited Census Bureau data showing that the surge in online shopping from 2020 (15.7% of all purchases) had returned to pre-pandemic levels (12.9%) by the end of 2021.  But let’s keep in mind, when emerging from a course-altering event like COVID-19, year-to-year comparisons don’t tell the full story.  Online shopping is most likely experiencing a relative course correction versus a downward spiral, and one can guess it will keep rising at a more steady pace in the years to come. 

C&C is especially likely to be part of our revised daily habits, even if it’s not the most prevalent way we buy goods.  Here is some insight into these changing consumer habits for advertisers to keep in mind when evaluating the potential of digital marketing in 2022 and beyond. 


Security, Control, and Convenience

One of the best things C&C brings is peace of mind.  There’s nothing worse than heading to a store when you need some things, only to find empty shelves.  Seeing a “your order is ready” notification provides the comfort that your trip will not be a waste of time or energy.  C&C also eases the uncertainty of delivery; since you pick up when you’re ready, ensuring your purchases won’t be stolen or left baking in the sun while you’re away from home. 


The Hybrid Store Visit: Click • Browse • Collect (C-B-C)

How many times have you headed to the store because you ran out of something – let’s say ketchup – and by the time you fill your cart with other essentials and impulse items, you get home and realize you forgot to buy the ketchup.  Or you reach the store and realize your well-planned shopping list is sitting at home on the kitchen table.  With C&C, you can buy everything on your “must-have” list and then go and enjoy a trip around the store to see what’s in the fresh and prepared aisles, and to see what else is on sale or is inspiring.  The fresh aisles are booming at grocery, as a recent feature in Modern Retail points out.  Plus, this C-B-C strategy helps parents streamline the time spent in-store with their children; they can pick out some prepared food with the kids and then have the rest of their list bagged, paid for, and at the ready.


The Added Value of Cash Back Rewards

C&C shopping also allows shoppers the opportunity to extend the reach of every dollar by making it turnkey to review cash back offers while you fill your cart online, deals that are often in addition to sales found in-store.

So how can advertisers leverage C&C in this new era?

Brand Loyalty

  • Cash back rewards lower the consumer's perceived risk of trying something new. As a result, they are a good way for brands seeking incremental sales to promote brand switching or to fend off the competition. These types of offers are the new POP display – just as tempting to add to the cart as the availability of gum and magazines in the checkout aisle. 

General Merchandise

  • For big-box retailers, general merchandise offers trigger the sale of many products.  For example, an irresistible offer on a panini maker builds in a plethora of incremental purchases – bread, meats, cheeses, vegetables, condiments, sides, etc.  These offers also invite in-store shoppers to see merchandise in aisles they might otherwise skip in their habitual laps around the store.  


Guaranteed Strategies for an Unpredictable Future

Online shopping saved the day during the pandemic and forever changed the way we go about our lives from here forward.  As a result, advertisers, retailers, and platforms like Ibotta will keep exploring innovative ways to connect with shoppers, ensuring they get the most value from the hybrid shopping experience and make every purchase rewarding.

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