Asda is one of those companies with a unique opportunity when it comes to digital. When it comes to their Asda George Kiosk, they have done a great job to digitize the collection process for their click and collect service from the website. Unfortunately they didn’t go far enough, which has produced a somewhat chaotic result. Hopefully this is a great example for others considering what their MVP product should consist of.
Like Tesco, Sainsburys and the other large supermarkets, they have extremely fertile soil to allow digital innovation to grow. They have:
- a captive loyal audience, who want to be delighted and engaged.
- a vast product line that customers need help to discover and buy from.
- a store network that covers pretty much every postcode,
- Budget to spend on tying the channels together to cut costs and improve service.
As a result when I heard about Asda’s new click and collect Kiosks, t I thought I was in for a treat, and expected a master class in digital kiosk execution.
Buying the items: a great start
After spending a bit of time on the Asda George website, I picked up a 3 of the typical things that the average George customer would buy and hit checkout.
Selecting the nearest location to my office, I hit the confirmation button and was prompted to choose from several stores. Asda even lets you know the time that its due to arrive, which I thought was a genius touch and great customer service. I received an email and was told by the system that it would arrive
“Sunday, After 1pm” – Great!
The Asda George Kiosk
When collection day arrived, I headed over to the store for about 2pm. The kiosk was situated right near the entrance to the shop with a convenient waiting area to hang around for your delivery to arrive.
The kiosk itself is manufactured by Acrelec and comes complete with a mobile friendly barcode scanner and a large touchscreen. The touchscreen was really responsive, and seemed to be quite clear and high-resolution.
After entering your order number, you are given a new “order number” which also appears on the screen.
The digital to manual dropped baton
In a relay race, it’s all about the handover of the baton between the different runners. It’s the difference between winning and coming last. The same happens in digital. It is at this point that the technology hands over to the human part of the operational process where the system began to break down. The “click and collect” process went from a great customer service to an utter disaster.
How long to wait?
First question to anyone sitting and waiting, how long do I have to wait? There is no timer on the screen, and no other way to notify the person doing the delivery that I want to pop to pick up milk. Do I have enough time to run and do a shop ( something which is definitely in Asda’s interest) or should I wait in this increasingly dark looking corner for an undetermined amount of time.
Luckily there were other people sitting there reading a newspaper. Turns out they have been waiting for over 30 minutes for their delivery to arrive. There is apparently only one guy who can do this work, and he only arrives periodically. What a waste!
Security to the rescue
Asking the nearest security guard, he was actually the bright star of the process and said if I left my name, he would look after the bags while I shop. He added that apparently he has to do that a lot. ( Looks like I am not the only person to experience this problem I wonder why they don’t fix it?)
As I was walking to do my shop, I spotted a guy with a big trolley of items marked click and collect. Rushing over to him, he tells me in a crestfallen way, that my delivery hasn’t arrived and I would be best off coming back in a few days. When I show him the link on my phone that says that my delivery has arrived, he says that it might be in the delivery that just arrived, but he can’t guarantee it, as it takes them a few hours to process it. So I should probably come back in a few days.
Click and Collect.. ( but you might have to wait or come back)
Was I the first to experience this problem? I had been promised a delivery on Monday at 1.30?
He explained that not everyone arrives when their delivery has been promised so I really should have waited for the text message that says the delivery has arrived.
As a result, I walked away from the order and went home. A few hours later the text message arrived saying that my order was ready. Instead of dealing with another Click , Wait and Collect experience, I opted to trial out their refund process. They even had an option for “Delivery didn’t arrive when promised”
Sadly I couldn’t get a refund as according to Asda’s system, I had collected the delivery. Which meant that another email was needed. What started as a brilliant digital experience, ended up in the lost wasteland of needing up to 4 separate Asda staff members to manage a transaction that ultimately ended up in a refund.
4 small steps to digital joy
If it was up to me, I would have embraced the full opportunity to digitise the process, not just leave it halfway completed and prone to failure.
This would entail some simple changes:
- Changing the wording on the delivery confirmation page on the website and confirmation email to say “Wait for the text message to confirm delivery before you head out” or update the delivery slots to allow an extra half a day of contingency.
- Adding a timing expectation on the click and collect kiosk that said collection can take up to 30 minutes, we will leave it behind the desk or with security so you can shop.
- Ask people if they want to receive a text notification for when the delivery arrives. ( as a bonus, Asda gets a confirmed SMS number for marketing)
- Give the staff serving click and collect a small tablet/ iPod touch that lets them manage the collections and allows them to send a confirmation text when they are delivering the items to the collection point.
Go all in for Digital
If Asda would have embraced using digital technology to cover the full process, they would already be in a much better place. They have done a great job so far, but by extending the digitization process to make it completely encompass the collection process is a very urgent next step from my quick review. I hope they do it, because if they did, they would have the best clothing offer of the grocers.