Despite BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store) hitting the headlines recently, it’s not a fleeting trend only to be forgotten about in six months time.
It’s a fulfillment revolution that offers advantages to both retailers and customers.
BOPIS requires you to fuse the frictionless speed of online commerce with the human touch of physical retail. Sadly, while BOPIS is used heavily by big box merchants, it’s not utilized quite as much by mid-market businesses.
The advice and information provided in this article aims to change that, as we think, with the right technology and know-how, BOPIS is something that retailers of all sizes can offer to customers should they choose to pick up the gauntlet.
What is BOPIS in retail?
BOPIS stands for ‘Buy Online Pickup In Store’, which is exactly how it sounds; it gives consumers the option to order online and pick up in store, with same day in store pickup being the usual promise. If you’re based in the UK, you’ve likely heard it described as ‘Click and Collect’.
Although we’ll deep dive into how you can offer BOPIS to your customers later on in this article, the cliffnotes version is that BOPIS enables your customers to:
See an item’s inventory across stores when viewing products online
Select a ‘pickup’ option with an estimated availability date and time at checkout
For those that have an offline and online presence, BOPIS is an additional shipping option that you can offer your customers when they checkout online. When the order is ready for pickup, your customers should be sent a notification via email or SMS.
According to a JDA survey, consumers turn to BOPIS to avoid delivery charges (40 percent), to get their items quickly (33 percent), for convenience (12 percent), because they want to see their merchandise while still in the store (8 percent) and because they’re more confident their items will end up in their hands if they pick it up themselves (7 percent). Therefore, you should consider these sought after qualities when devising your own BOPIS retail strategy.
Benefits of BOPIS
Although the importance of BOPIS as a way to appeal to empowered, buy-anywhere-anytime consumers is reflected in a number of ways, the benefits can be grouped into four distinct categories:
Increased upsell opportunity
Improved shopping experiences
Reduced last-mile shipping and returns costs
Increased online conversion
1. Increased upsell opportunity
The real value of BOPIS lies in its ability to drive shoppers into stores.
Increased foot traffic leads to more in store transactions and provides opportunity to cross-sell, upsell and motivate impulse purchases.
In fact, BizRate Insights found that up to 79% of consumers are making additional in store purchases when retrieving their BOPIS orders.
2. Improved shopping experiences
BOPIS combines the efficiency and convenience of online shopping with the immediacy and instant gratification of visiting a brick and mortar store.
Done right, it eliminates the risk of customers visiting a store and finding out that a product they want isn’t available.
Having multiple fulfillment options like BOPIS is a convenience consumers now expect. They want to be able to choose how to receive their items based on their plans that week, how much it’ll cost to do so and how soon they need the item.
3. Reduced last-mile shipping and returns costs
The BOPIS retail model presents cost saving opportunities for both retailers and customers.
For customers, they have the chance to save money and avoid the high shipping costs associated with same/next-day delivery. In fact, high shipping costs can be an active deterrent during online checkout, causing some to abandon their carts.
BOPIS can convert these cost-conscious shoppers into a sale and help you to avoid shipping charges if you usually offer free delivery once your customers hit a certain order value threshold.
Likewise, retailers can also save on returns costs. Whereas previously, customers would only be able to return goods via a courier or mail service – usually at the expense of the retailer, BOPIS enables them to now choose to return their items in store. This is convenient for the customer and inexpensive for the retailer.
4. Increased online conversion
As we’ve established, 40% of consumers use BOPIS services to avoid delivery charges and another 7% feel more confident about actually receiving their purchases if they pick them up themselves.
This is a significant proportion of customers that you have the power to convert – simply by offering an order online pick up in store service.
Otherwise, these customers will be more likely to find a retailer that provides them with the freedom and flexibility they crave when it comes to shopping online.
Why retailers should adopt BOPIS
Alongside the benefits described above, the short answer as to why you should adopt BOPIS is that your big box competition are already offering it – and reaping the rewards.
In a recent survey conducted by fraud specialist and Brightpearl partner, Signifyd, retailers indicated that one of their biggest reasons for offering BOPIS was to remain competitive with other retailers.
And it’s easy to see why:
Home Depot’s first quarter ecommerce sales rose by 20% since offering BOPIS.
Petco’s first month of offering BOPIS transactions resulted in 100,000 BOPIS orders; a 5% increase in net new customers and ecommerce revenue.
While fashion giant, Nordstrom, claims: “When customers engage with us across stores and online, on average they spend five times more, and profitability per customer doubles.”
If these figures alone are anything to go by, it suggests that BOPIS is a huge opportunity that is ready to be capitalized on.
How to deploy BOPIS
Consumers want to receive their purchases as quickly and easily as possible without having to pay more for that convenience.
However, most BOPIS options for retailers often include building complex, expensive and custom integrations with their webstore, or partnering with complicated ERP solutions. A Forrester Research report claims that the time it takes to institute BOPIS differs: “Project timelines can vary significantly: We spoke to one retailer that launched a ‘reserve-online/pick-up-in-store’ service in a matter of months, while others we spoke with, that launched more complex capabilities, took up to three years.”
At Brightpearl, we know it doesn’t have to be as complicated as this. Read on for best practice advice on how to deploy BOPIS with technology being – perhaps unsurprisingly – the foundational cornerstone of your pickup strategies.
Put your customers and their experiences first
The way you treat your customers when they’re first placing their order or when they come to pick it up will either make or break your BOPIS retail strategy.
To avoid the latter, consider these top tips for maintaining a customer-first approach when it comes to BOPIS:
Always over-communicate with customers. Keep your customers updated throughout every step of the process and provide clear instructions on where to pick up their items.
Facilitate an easy and memorable pick up. Retailers that can offer designated parking with a special in store welcome, sales associates that are skilled in recommending complementary items, and even branded BOPIS packaging, are all ways to impress and build customer loyalty.
Make it affordable. Research suggests that over 55% of consumers choose BOPIS as their preferred shopping method simply to save on shipping fees. Consider offering incentives to excite shoppers to try out your BOPIS offering and save money in a new way.
Train your staff. Regardless of which store your customer chooses to visit, they should receive a consistent experience inside, especially when it comes to picking up their online orders. Spend time training your staff on every scenario that might occur with this new process and ensure top-up training happens every 6-12 months. However, we understand more than anyone, that in order to spend extra time training your staff, you’ll need time back from processing orders and completing admin tasks. Read our free guide for tips and advice on how you can automate your ecommerce processes to help free up some of that time.
Gain a unified view of your inventory across locations
When offering BOPIS, you’ll need an accurate picture of which stores have what inventory so that shoppers can select the most convenient location.
Sadly, a whopping 45 percent of retailers have said that logistics and inventory tracking are their biggest challenges when implementing BOPIS.
We’re surprised by this figure, as we believe this is one of the easiest challenges to overcome with the right technology in place. Find a system with multi-location inventory management capabilities built-in and this is one hurdle that you’ll be able to leap far across.
Follow fraud best practices
Despite the wealth of benefits that BOPIS provides, there is the risk of increased fraudulent transactions if retailers don’t follow fraud best practices.
You’ll gain a wealth of information about this in Signifyd’s BOPIS guide – get it here.
Implement cross-channel order fulfillment
In a recent interview about BOPIS with Retail Dive, Ken Morris, Principal of Boston Retail Partners said:
“Many retailers are not taking cross-channel fulfillment seriously, and that is a huge risk. According to our research, most retailers understand that consumers want flexible fulfillment options and they are trying to support these options as best they can. However, for those retailers that say they offer cross-channel fulfillment options, most indicate that they are not working well.”
One of the simplest ways to improve your cross-channel order fulfillment strategy is to implement a centralized retail operations platform that can facilitate order updates and inventory changes across all the channels you sell on – be it online, in store, on the road or via wholesale.
Offer simple and seamless returns
BORIS, the reverse of BOPIS, enables customers to return an item they bought online in store, providing convenience and the chance to elevate the customer’s experience even further.
To execute this well, requires in store staff to have access to a complete customer transaction history, as well as a streamlined returns process in place that can quickly process the return and get items back into rotation sooner.
How a BOPIS retail strategy can support your omnichannel goals
While it might be tempting to look at on- and offline shopping trends individually, BOPIS calls for a different way of thinking; an omnichannel way of thinking.
An omnichannel strategy involves thinking about how to make your shopping experience seamless and consistent – no matter which channel your customer came to you from.
However, Matthew Leach, a Vice President at NTT Data Services says: “Buy-online-pick-up-in-store is a challenge for many retailers, because it forces them to break down silos and start to collaborate across channels. It’s one thing to have a strategy to do so; it’s another thing to be able to turn that into a well-functioning reality.”
While 32% of US consumers agree that the biggest improvement retailers can make is to integrate all three major sales channels – ecommerce, brick and mortar and mobile.
By blending the use of your ecommerce and in store presence in the way that BOPIS demands, you’ll naturally become an omni-present business – providing you do it well.
For brick and mortar retailers, in store pickup of online purchases has the potential to convert single channel customers into profitable omnichannel ones. In fact, omnichannel shoppers are said to be over 20% more profitable than single channel shoppers, creating $1.21 of profit for every $1 generated by a single channel shopper.
The shift towards and the demand for omnichannel fulfillment has been very much influenced by the digitization of the industry as a whole and the opportunity this brings with it.
As an example, mobile is now where the majority of retail customer journeys start – but not necessarily where they end. A report by Google has found that six in ten Internet users start shopping on one device but continue or finish on a different one, while 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in store. Google also identified that “foot traffic in retail stores has declined by 57% in the past five years, but the value of every visit has nearly tripled.”
Technology plays a huge part in your ability to properly implement BOPIS. All aspects of the supply chain – from sales and fulfillment to purchasing and inventory must sync across your channels in real time. And to achieve that, your business craves a scalable and future-proof retail operations platform like Brightpearl.
To find out more about BOPIS and how Brightpearl in particular supports it, take a look at this BigCommerce integration page.