A few weeks ago when lockdown had eased a bit, we went for a drive to visit (albeit at a distance) my mother in Birmingham.

We had a bit of a walk round (at 2 metre distance) and then headed back.

Something struck me about signs attached to lampposts outside many shops, small and large, and that was the number of businesses that now had a “Click and Collect” model.

Not just your big brands, but small shops, take-aways, cafes.

As we drove home, the kids were feeling peckish so we thought we’d look for a chip shop. We hadn’t had fish and chips from a proper takeaway for months, it was about time.

My wife picked up the mobile and began searching and we discovered one of our favourite chip chops, Catchem’s End in Bewdley, had a click and collect service.

They’re a small independent chip shop operating out of a small town in Worcestershire.

When we looked at the website, it had a sign saying “we’re open Monday to Sunday for collection only”. They also had a message saying that the menu was limited due to the current situation.

This was important.

It showed us that the site was up to date because they were adjusting their service due to current affairs. This is a good way to get people to trust you.

There was also a big “Order Now” button which we dutifully clicked.

Nice and simple. Choose a slot (we could choose one based on our ETA in Bewdley) and choose what you want.

Pay online, go pick them up.

We turned up at our allotted time and a gent at the door said; “Order for Andy?”

Best. Chips. Ever.

What they did, and why it was so right

The thing that makes the Internet so damn compelling is its choice.

There’s just so much stuff on it.

The thing that makes High Streets so compelling is the ability to get stuff now.

If something is in stock, the ability to go and drive somewhere, pick it up and put it in your car is sometimes the difference between not selling something and selling something.

Some shops have had this nailed for decades.

Argos is one such business that has the model licked.

They’ve been in the mass distribution service for decades, if they’d seen the tide change before Amazon and had the foresight Jeff Bezos had, they could have been the biggest online retailer in the world.

For many businesses, moving to an online model has been an expense not worth investigating. People walk by their shop and buy their stuff or pick up chips or don’t.

Yes, they have a website, but it’s usually just to show what they have, tell people where the parking is or maybe have a downloadable menu.

But COVID-19 has changed all that and even small shops have been forced to change their model.

TO be fair, some chip chops have been doing this for ages (another of my favourites, Merchants, has had click and collect for years), but the way others have adapted has been swift and signs are now going up all over the High Street.

What Catchem’s End did was latch on to this and give people what they wanted, convenience and choice.

Anyone can do it

If you have a small shop, you can do it, too.

It doesn’t matter what you sell, there are ways in which you can provide a service to clients who don’t want to come in and browse.

And it’s pretty easy.

The hosted model

If you’re a café, restaurant or sandwich shop, there are a number of online services that can help you use your existing website to take orders.

These services are seamless, brandable so they look like your own site and easy to use.

One such service is preoday.com

They help you get up and running quickly and give you a full back-end system to manage your products, orders, and delivery slots.

You are able to set up the times you can take orders, give people pick-up slots and customise your menu.

This is a big system and some huge companies are using it, but it’s robust.

There’s a flat monthly fee for using it, but the benefit of that is you won’t get charged more the more you sell, so you can scale without worrying about more costs.

Of course, you could go down the route of delivering.

I’m sure you’ve seen adverts for Just Eat, UberEats and Deliveroo.

The downside with these providers is the commission, sometimes up to 40% of the cost of a meal goes to the platform and the delivery of the food, so you need to be making a lot on eat portion to make it worthwhile.

Of course, the benefit here is that you don’t have to sell that much to cover any flat fees or service costs.

But what about other businesses?

Host your own service

If you’re one of the many website owners that decided to use WordPress (and we don’t blame you, it’s brilliant), then you already have a great platform to build upon.

If you already sell from it, then you’re probably using WooCommerce. In basic form, it’s free.

And would you believe it, it has “local pickup” built-in.

Using WooCommerce Local Pickup

The first thing to say about this is that it’s limited in functionality, but here’s a run down of how you can use it.

First of all, you need to go to WooCommerce->Shipping:

Click on “Add shipping method”.

Select “Local pickup” and then “Add shipping method”.

In most cases, you’re now done.

When someone goes to your checkout, they will be offered local pickup as an option, but there’s a catch.

When people check out, you’ll need to contact them in order to arrange a pick up, it’s a very manual process and you’ll need to set up emails to go to your clients to explain this to them.

For many, this is an easy thing to do and as a free option, it does the job well.

But what if you want more?

Well, for a cost of $79.00 you can use the more accomplished system “Local Pickup Plus”.

This is an add-on product which you can get here: https://woocommerce.com/products/local-pickup-plus/

Configuring Local Pickup Plus

There’s a simple setup, and a more complex setup, depending on your particular situation.

If you’re a one-premises business, it’s fairly simple to get going, we’ll cover that here.

So, head over to WooCommerce->Settings->Shipping and “Local Pickup Plus”

Tick the box to turn it on.

You can change the name of it (how it will be displayed in the checkout) here, too.

A bit further down the page you can decide how you will allow these pick ups to work.

For many, you might want to limit the number of people that can turn up at once. If 100 people want cod and chips at 5pm, it’ll be difficult to fulfil, so you can set limits:

First of all, you set it to “Require scheduled appointments”. Essentially, people must book online to pick up their food.

You can then decide to have duractions for appointments if you want to spread them out a bit (say, to give you 15 minute intervals between pick-ups), or just let people choose any time.

And then you set your maximum number of appointment so they don’t all choose the same time,

Easy?

So far, so good.

Next, set your opening hours:

Finally, you can set holidays, lead time (when the goods will be ready) and a cost if you want to charge for pick up.

That’s it!

Anyone can do this. Anyone.

I don’t expect a lot of you will load up your sites and get this done straight away, and you might not be using WooCommerce or WordPress, but the fact is, enabling this on your website is now easier than ever.

Whatever your platform, there will be a way of making it possible for people to order online, pay your, then come and pick things up.

It doesn’t matter what you sell, there will be an option available, so you should make the most of it on your site.

If you need any help, give us a call.