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Coronavirus: M&S trials drive-through collection

Kalila Sangster
·3-min read
A woman passes the sign on a branch of Marks and Spencer in London, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Marks and Spencer has said it will cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months as the UK retailer overhauls its business in the latest sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the high street. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
M&S is attempting to 'turbocharge' growth through its website in response to the skyrocketing popularity of online shopping in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

M&S (MKS.L) has launched two new trials for its Click & Collect service in response to the coronavirus pandemic — drive-through collection and in-store contactless collection.

For drive-through collection a customer receives their “Ready to Collect” email including a link to book a collection slot and to give their car registration. This is done via dialogue with a chatbot on text, Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger.

The chatbot confirms the time slot and the allocated location where the customer should drive to. When the customer arrives at the store, they press a link on their phone to inform a colleague they have arrived and their parcel is brought to their car.

For in-store contactless collection the chatbot confirms the time slot and the allocated location where they will collect the order and when the customer arrives at the collection point, they pick up their parcel from the allocated shelf the chatbot tells them to go to.

M&S said both solutions will help customers shop safely and conveniently during the coronavirus by eliminating the need to queue when entering the shop and at the Click & Collect desk.

READ MORE: Shoppers hit high streets as retail footfall keeps rising

Before the coronavirus lockdown was implemented across the UK in March, around 70% of online M&S orders were collected in-store, according to the retailer. Whilst this fell to a low of 15% when clothing stores were closed, it has gradually been rising again in recent weeks and is now at around 50%.

The move is part of the retail giant’s efforts to “turbocharge” growth through its website in response to the skyrocketing popularity of online shopping in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

M&S is trialling in-store contactless collection at Hempstead Valley, Camberley and Longbridge, and drive-up collection at Camberley.

The retailer is partnering with technology platform Doddle to launch the three-store trials.

Neil Phillips, head of digital operations at M&S, said: “Great digital technology in our stores is really important for offering our customers a great experience and for connecting the online and in-store journey.

READ MORE: Non-essential spending returns to 2019 levels as lockdown eases

“These trials with Doddle offer market leading solutions for Click & Collect, a proposition which will only grow over the coming years as the trend towards online shopping continues to accelerate. We’ll be listening carefully to our customers’ feedback.”

Gary O’Connor, CTO at Doddle, said: “We are delighted to be working with M&S to trial new click & collect technology in selected stores. Online shopping has rapidly accelerated, and we’re confident that our digital in-store collections and drive-up solution will benefit M&S and their customers — with an even more convenient way to receive their purchases.”