Waitrose click & collect concierge desk

Sir: Retailers often look to the ‘pillars’ of British retail for best practices and delivery is no exception. For many, John Lewis has set consumer expectations around the cost of delivery, especially by offering click & collect as a free option (‘John Lewis to charge for click & collect orders,’ thegrocer.co.uk, 1 July).

In reality, click & collect is not free and many retailers are feeling the strain of having to operate as both a retailer and a logistics company.

Despite the customer service benefits of owning the ‘final mile’, running a successful logistics business can be very costly. Unless you are Amazon and can subsidise delivery costs or one of the big four supermarkets, which view low-cost delivery as a loss leader, then it has been difficult for many retailers to compete with the likes of John Lewis on its free collection offer. This is especially true if you are shipping collection orders from warehouse to store, rather than picking up direct from store.

Retailers should view this announcement as an opportunity to ensure their delivery strategy complements their business as a whole.

For retailers, this isn’t just about reducing costs, it is also an opportunity to explore how to best use the ‘final mile’ in order to offer a unique value proposition to customers.

Whether consumers continue to use John Lewis’ click & collect option, despite the charge, will be an indication of the true consumer appetite for click & collect and an eye-opener for the industry and its approach to fulfilment.

Darryl Adie, managing director, Ampersand