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'Click & Collect' - Online Shopping Convenience That Falls Short

Click & Collect
Click & Collect is a service offered by many online retailers where you can shop for your items online, and then pick up your order from a participating retailer near you within hours. It sounds all very convenient but is it really?

When I shop online, I do so because I want my purchase to be delivered to my front door. I don't want to leave my house. That's convenience.

Click and Collect allows me to go to an actual store, that stocks the item I've ordered online, where my purchase will be packed and waiting for me to pick up within a few hours of placing the order.

As opposed to me just going to the store near me, buying from that retailer what I would've ordered online, in however long it takes for me to get to the store and back.

In certain circumstances Click & Collect is great. There may be times when you don't want something delivered directly to your home. It's particularly appropriate for purchases where the item is physically being shipped to a location nearer to you, or if you just want to collect an item from somewhere secure because you're never home during delivery times.

However, especially in times like these where being around others is a health issue, if a retailer can fill my order through a participating store near me, why can't they go the extra yards, and deliver that order to my door? That would actually be convenient, right?

Recently I shopped online with a major Australian online pharmacy (a.k.a. chemist or drug store). Their warehouse is based in Sydney NSW. I'm located on the outskirts of Adelaide SA.

I have several local pharmacies within walking distance of my home but, due to a Government COVID directive (as I write this), you can't enter their premises without a mask. Not just any mask either, you have to wear a proper disposable PPE mask preferred by health workers.

I'm not opposed to wearing masks. I'll wear one if I have to but they've never been compulsory in SA, and I'm always careful to social distance. (Don't get me started on people who wear masks outside, and then lower them when they come up to you and start a conversation - what are they even doing?).

Again, as I'm writing this, there is only one known case of COVID in my entire state. That person is a returning expatriate who was already in quarantine when they returned a positive test result.

My purchases were not urgent so I thought I'd shop online, knowing full well it'd be a minimum of five days before my items would arrive from the Sydney warehouse.

Unfortunately the warehouse was out of stock on some items I wanted to buy. Their website gave me the 'click and collect' option of ordering them, with the order being fulfilled by a local, participating pharmacy that would allow me to collect my purchase within hours of my online order. Sounds extremely convenient. I'd get my order sooner.

Except I'd gone to the trouble of shopping online because I didn't want to actually go out to a local pharmacy, knowing full well that my order would take longer to deliver as a result.

If I can 'click and collect' my order same day, how hard would it be for that pharmacy to put my order in the post, where it would likely get to me next day instead of the five days it may have taken from the Sydney warehouse? I mean, they're already bagging up my order ready for me to collect. Why not stick it in a mailing bag/box and drop it in the post?

More to the point, why even send any orders from a central warehouse? Why not just fulfill all orders from local participating pharmacy stock? Local pharmacies get more business, customers get their orders sooner and delivered to their door. Seems like everyone wins.

Maybe behind the scenes it's not as easy as it sounds. However my local pharmacies could have still got my business if they home delivered. Instead I ordered alternative products from the Sydney warehouse that I could get delivered to my door. I was prepared to wait those extra days, which just seemed easier than dealing with going to a physical store at the time.

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