Zara Works to Improve its Popular “Click and Collect” Process

I have never shopped at Zara, and would not have the first clue what types of clothes they sell. I only know as much about Zara as we discussed earlier in this semester during our lecture about competitive advantages. During that lecture, we discussed Zara being a leader in new product development time within the larger competitive priority of “time.” Knowing that Zara placed an emphasis on time, I was drawn to a WSJ headline recently about Zara working to speed up its “click and collect” service at its brick and mortar stores.

According to this article, Zara has been facing mild criticism over long wait times, disorganized processes, and confused staff at its collection points for its click and collect process. This process allows customers to purchase any array of Zara products online and opt for an in-store pick up rather than choosing home delivery at an extra charge. With hundreds of stores globally, including 85 in the US, the click and collect process is very accessible and has recently accounted for 1/3 of all online sales. However, when you combine that with Zara’s unmatched growth in the retail industry, it can cause some processes and capacity to lag behind the demand. Consistently high wait times at stores operating often over capacity have led Zara to rethink its revenue-heavy order collection process.

The current process already utilizes a JIT pull system for managing its inventory in this process. The logistics and supply side of the process are effective and efficient. The issue lies in the brick and mortar stores. The WSJ article linked below describes workers currently writing down order numbers on pieces of paper, then wandering around to find said orders. It also illustrated that there was no clear direction in store as to where click and collect orders are to be collected, causing customers to linger confused and wait in the wrong lines.

To solve these issues and promote continuous improvement, Zara recently announced plans to automate the click and collect collection process. This new automated system will utilize self-scan stations and robots to quickly bring collections to the customer. When the customer scans their confirmation, a robot-based system will automatically engage in the inventory-holding area to locate and transport the appropriate box. By speeding up collection processing time, Zara can reduce its average number of customers in line and its wait times, leading to increased free capacity, better customer satisfaction, and a tremendously improved process.

Whereas some companies may seek to staff more workers to solve this issue caused by high demand, Zara has used a Kaizen approach and seeked to address the process itself. Although probably leading to a larger initial investment, this process improvement project will certainly yield higher returns in the future as customers are more satisfied with the efficient nature of Zara’s click and collect service.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/zara-turns-to-robots-as-in-store-pickups-surge-1520254800

5 thoughts on “Zara Works to Improve its Popular “Click and Collect” Process

  • March 8, 2018 at 10:11 am
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    I think Zara is a really interesting company to look at in regards to supply chain and possible improvements. I really enjoyed reading your post about them!

    The company has struggled with continuing to catch up with new trends and release multiple collections every season. It’s interesting to consider that the click and collect has accounted for 1/3 of online sales for the company. It’s important that the company is recognizing that their system can be improved and is taking steps in the right direction. If the company really wants their automated click and collect system to make the store’s run efficiently and make the shopping experience better, they should consider implementing systems to make sure the technology is working correctly. Like we talked about in class, there are methods that can be implemented to prevent defect or stalls in the machine. IF the company implemented a poka-yoke system, the click and collect system would only work if everything in the system is up to standard. Additionally, taking the jidoka approach, if something in the system’s technology fails, the system will stop and an employee will be notified.

    For these click and collect stations to actually add benefit to the company, it is important that they are efficient and effective so as to not take away employees from customer interactions in the store. It could be beneficial for the company to implement these lean systems approaches.

  • March 8, 2018 at 8:50 am
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    Joe,

    You are definitely right. Companies with more futuristic systems are definitely more appealing. Customers are drawn to a more futuristic feel of companies. You are not only selling your product, but also, the experience of your niche of the retail industry. For example, when a customer walks into an Apple store, they are greeted and then logged in to a unique system that organizes customers to create an imaginary line for those customers. This allows customers to be able to do other things while waiting for their turn to meet with an Apple representative. Not only that, but it will automatically notify you when your turn has come. This system has increased the overall Apple experience. Most of the time that people go to Apple stores, it is because of some sort of malfunction with their Apple product. Apple has made that terrible feeling a little better by introducing this system to enhance the consumer experience in their store. The article posted here at the bottom discusses their exceptional customer service, among other things Apple does exceedingly well.

    https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/apple-iphone-release-branding-tl

  • March 8, 2018 at 7:31 am
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    Zara is a leader in delivering fresh, new clothes to the market. Their “click and collect” processes are a major problem that has the potential to turn away customers. The last thing a customer wants is to wait a very long time in a line when the item was already purchases online. A potential reason as to why Zara is lagging in its click and collect services is that they are a global company. They have stores all around the world. Most countries are not used to the idea of ordering online then picking up in-store. When I studied abroad in Spain, it would seem like there was always a lot of people shopping in-store. The click and collect processes only seem to be a problem here in the US. A potential solution to the problem is to have kiosks in store where a customer can enter his or her information into a system and have an employee go retrieve the item. This way, a customer does not have to wait in line. The kiosk would be similar to kiosks we see at movie theaters where a customer is able to buy a ticket without waiting in line. This system is similar to what Walmart does with its click and collect processes. Walmart has a designated area where people can sit and wait for their items to be delivered to them after entering his or her information into a system.

  • March 7, 2018 at 11:49 pm
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    Joe,

    This is an interesting post and it brings up a similar theme that another post on this feed discussed- the future of brick-and-mortar retail. Although Zara has gained traction from their online business, they still have a substantial brick-and-mortar presence. Their problems with long wait lines and lackluster customer service will have to be improved to remain competitive.

    In my other post, I discussed the need for brick-and-mortar stores to emphasize the customer experience. Zara’s implementation of robots to improve their click-and-collect system could be a good example of this. Creating a “futuristic” environment for the customer to shop in would certainly improve the customer experience and drive up demand. As Zara continues to adapt and alter their strategy, it will be interesting to watch their in-store customer experience change.

  • March 7, 2018 at 10:27 pm
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    Joe,

    This is a very interesting article. As someone who shops at Zara a lot, I can tell you first hand that this is something they struggle with. The store by my house is three floors, but consistently only has one register open. On an average day this can mean waiting in line for 5-7 minutes but during the Holidays and sales it can get up to 20 minutes or more. I can’t imagine they are not loosing business from people who simply do not want to wait in line. Furthermore, it can be very discouraging for people who have ordered using the “click and collect” feature to have to wait in long lines for clothes they have already paid for.

    As you said their “click and collect” function is a revenue driver, so it makes sense that they will want to improve the process to create the most customer satisfaction. Their new robot-based system seems like a great idea and is reflective of the already innovative company. I also think there are other ways they can work to improve the customer experience. Their lines to check out and currently pick up orders are single line, multiple channel, and single phase. Because of this it seems like they can do some probability analysis or do research to find out how to best staff the stores. This way they can decrease the amount of time customers wait in lines and increase customer satisfaction.

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