What retailers introducing click-and-collect can learn from the McDonald’s drive-thru


Click-and-collect is when customers buy online and pick up in-store later. This popular US-born retail model is now catching on in Australia, thanks to COVID-19 making the convenience and safety of the click-and-collect model very appealing.

In fact, “70 per cent of consumers plan to continue or increase their online shopping after the pandemic restrictions end,” McKinsey & Company research suggests.

While “57 per cent said that they intend to order online and pick up their goods at local stores … and 28 per cent of them said that they plan to avoid stores altogether.”

Click-and-collect is here to stay.

But service is human, and it always will be.

The challenge for most retailers is that so much of our service interactions are shifting online.

However, even though the structure of how we care, interact and develop an emotional connection with customers is different, it is not impossible to still create extraordinary service moments.

In many ways, the click-and-collect service model is the modern retail equivalent of the McDonald’s drive-thru.

For decades, the customer service giant found ways to deliver exceptional customer service through an order-take speaker box and then deliver fresh, hot food in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds, through the convenience of a car window.

I have worked at McDonald’s and the way I was trained to deliver service in the drive-thru was no different to how click-and-collect customer service training should be operating today.

We were always focused on the three fundamentals of accuracy, speed and friendliness to ensure convenient service was still extraordinary.


For any click-and-collect model, it is critical that you get the order right. This is non-negotiable and should be the first priority for all teams that are part of the service chain.

Put systems in place that allow for checking parts of processing an order that may be at risk of human error. Check, double-check and check again.

In fact, in McDonald’s, on the very busy days, we used to have someone who was called the ‘order checker’. Their job was to literally stand there and do the final check of the order once it was assembled.

First-time users of click-and-collect will be seeking trust in the very first impression, which means you cannot afford to break that trust by getting the first time user’s order incorrect.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression, don’t mess it up and don’t leave success to chance.

Get the processes and procedures in place so that there is always a check step in the process.


If convenience is the main driver of click-and-collect, then the time it takes to prepare the order and inform a customer that their order is ready for collection is a key metric of success for businesses to monitor.

If you are making promises on your websites such as ‘collect in-store within two trading hours’, then make sure this is realistic and achievable. Consider who your ace performers are in assembling orders, who will be efficient and can be good role models for other employees who are learning.

If you are unable to fulfil the time expectation of when to collect, keep customers informed, let them know you are experiencing a high volume of orders and give them a more accurate time for when to expect their order to be complete and ready for pick up.


Rather than look at click-and-collect as transactions, keep in mind that these orders are still customer relationships, humans who are seeking emotional connection and trust with a brand.

The way customers are acknowledged or greeted when they arrive to collect, the way they feel when interacting with one employee (even if it is a warehouse attendant) is how they feel about a brand itself.

You cannot afford for even one employee to have a bad day.

If online services continue to be customers preferences, then it’s important that leaders and their teams consider the efficiencies of their operating models around online service, and continue to strive for extraordinary human-to-human service, one click at a time.

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