BOPIS: How Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store is Catering to Consumers’ Needs and Boosting Retailers’ Bottom Lines

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Retailers today are adopting the BOPIS model to meet customer expectations. Buy online, pick up in-store — or BOPIS — is the perfect way for retailers to drive in-store foot traffic and connect their offline and online experiences.

The option, sometimes called click-and-collect, has particularly picked up steam during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Digital Commerce 360 survey from August 2020 found that 43.7% of the top 500 retailers with physical stores were offering BOPIS — up from only 6.9% prior to the pandemic. Especially when coupled with the trend of curbside pickup, BOPIS provides a safer way to shop by minimizing or eliminating customers’ time spent in store.

As retailers increasingly implement BOPIS into their omnichannel retail strategy, it’s important to understand what BOPIS is and why customers are now expecting it. In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  1. What is BOPIS?
  2. How does BOPIS work?
  3. What are the requirements to allow you to offer BOPIS?
  4. What opportunities can retailers take advantage of with BOPIS?
  5. Why are customers opting for BOPIS?
  6. Why are retailers embracing BOPIS?
  7. Who are some of the retailers and ecommerce brands successfully utilizing BOPIS?

What is BOPIS?

BOPIS stands for buy-online-pickup-in-store. The practice of offering BOPIS has grown as shoppers become too busy to browse items in-store and are more comfortable buying online. BOPIS allows retailers to blend the online and in-store experience to engage with customers while offering a more convenient way to shop.

You may also want to be familiar with these cousins of BOPIS:

  • Curbside pickup or BOPAC: A subset of BOPIS in which customers receive their items outside the store, often without leaving their car.
  • BORIS: Buy-online-return-in-store.
  • ROPIS: Reserve-online-pickup-in-store. This method allows customers to order an item for in-store pick, but not actually pay for it until they receive it.

What do all these models have in common? They provide a clear way to bridge the online and offline store experiences, so that customers flow seamlessly from channel to channel.

How Does BOPIS Work?

Shoppers want choice and flexibility in how they want their orders fulfilled, and they want to be able to complete their purchases or make returns quickly and efficiently. BOPIS is key to delivering convenience by enabling customers to conveniently select which items they want to purchase immediately, and which items are worth waiting for. Here’s how the process works:

1. Customers buy online, through the website or mobile app.

When it comes to BOPIS, it’s important for retailers to create convenience by enabling customers to complete purchases online or in-app, simultaneously selecting the time and store location to pick-up the purchased products. With real-time local inventory visibility at hand, the consumer can choose when and where to pick up their products.

2. The store fulfills the online order.

There are two scenarios when ordering through BOPIS.

If the item is in stock at the customer’s chosen local store, a store associate can use an app to easily locate, pick and pack the order to hold for the customer. When ready, the associate can send an email or notification to the customer letting them know it’s ready for pickup. This saves shoppers precious time searching the aisles while removing the barriers of order fulfillment for store associates.

On the other hand, if the store does not have the item in-stock, the associate must order from a nearby store or warehouse facility. Once it arrives, the customer is notified, and it will be available for pick-up at his or her convenience.

3. The customer picks up the order.

Customers can go inside the store to a designated online pickup area where a store associate will hand over the items. As mentioned above, stores are taking it one step further by facilitating curbside pickup — where a customer can drive up to the store location and receive their order without ever leaving the car.

Either way, consumers should be easily guided through the steps for picking up their purchased products, including receiving a text message, push notification or email with a receipt or QR code for the order as well as quick and easy instructions about where their product will be waiting in the store.

Requirements For Offering BOPIS

So now that you know what BOPIS is and how the process works, it’s important to figure out if your store has everything necessary to offer BOPIS to customers. The good news is it’s quite simple — you just need a few things:

1. A website or app for ordering.

Retailers must have a branded website or app for customers to order items from, connecting the online and offline experience. This platform should provide accurate and real-time visibility into available inventory creating a reliable and enhanced level of convenience.

With smartphones now playing the role of supporting actor in all aspects of consumers’ lives, it’s no surprise that consumers expect their phones to assist in the shopping experience, especially when it comes to BOPIS. Retailers can use the app to proactively communicate with customers by using push notifications throughout all of the steps of the shopping journey — letting them know when the order has been received, notifying them the order is being prepared, and confirming the order is ready for pickup — all on their mobile device.

2. At least one brick-and-mortar location.

Of course, BOPIS doesn’t work for stores who only have an online presence. Retailers must have at least one brick-and-mortar location to fulfill online orders and act as a hub for customers to pick up their items. The store should be located strategically to provide customers a convenient place to go, while providing an opportunity for increased foot traffic.

3. Real-time inventory capabilities.

Retailers need to analyze and implement the right technology components to deliver the most up-to-date inventory available to the consumer. This involves connecting all components of the retailer’s fulfillment system to create real-time analytics on order statuses, workflows, overall cycle time, locations handling and customer engagement.

If you have multiple locations, it’s very important that the solution you choose connects your POS inventory across all locations to provide that visibility to customers.

BOPIS Performance In The Retail Market

BOPIS has been a popular and successful offering among both retailers and shoppers, and we have the numbers to prove it. Check out these numbers highlighting how customers are using BOPIS and what retailers can do to take advantage of this shifting behavior.

1. 56% of shoppers plan to continue using BOPIS after COVID-19.

A report by McKinsey and Co.,found that even in a post-pandemic world, people plan to continue some of the same shopping behaviors they adopted in the last year. BOPIS is not a trend that is going away because shoppers have come to appreciate that many conveniences omnichannel shopping can provide. 

2. 65% of surveyed shoppers used BOPIS to counter shipping fees.

Have you ever started a purchase online only to see that the shipping isn’t free? This almost always steers people away from checking out. In fact, 65% of consumers also say they look up the free-shipping thresholds before adding items to their online carts. That’s why BOPIS is a great way for both customers and retailers to save time and money.

Why Customers Are Choosing BOPIS

So why will customers continue to choose BOPIS even when COVID-19 is no longer a factor? Customers are looking for a shopping experience that is convenient, but also saves them time and money. COVID-19 may have been an impetus for changing shopping behavior, as people are trying to limit their time in stores; however, it is not all the only factor driving BOPIS forward.

1. No shipping fees.

Unless a retailer offers free shipping, it can be significantly more expensive for customers to have items shipped to their door. As an alternative, customers can save both money and time by picking up their order in store rather than paying $3+ to ship a single item. At the same time, they can still enjoy the benefits of easy online ordering.

2. Quicker service.

If customers need an item immediately, it’s much faster to order an in-stock item online and have it ready for pickup in an hour than it is to wait two days or longer for an Amazon delivery. Getting items in the hands of the customer fast is essential, and BOPIS can offer exactly that.

3. In-stock insurance.

BOPIS serves as a kind of insurance that the item customers want is 100% at the store of their choice when it’s ready for pickup. The last thing a consumer wants is to purchase an item through the app selecting a BOPIS fulfillment option, only to arrive at the store and find out the product is not available or has been substituted for something else.

How BOPIS Benefits Retailers

Retailers are also realizing the benefits of BOPIS and taking advantage of implementing this method to succeed in the last mile. Brick-and-mortar stores have a competitive edge over Amazon and other online retailers without a storefront, and BOPIS is the perfect way to bolster their omnichannel strategy.

1. Extra purchases from customers.

When customers go in-store to pick up their order, they may be tempted to look around and browse for more products. Or they may have forgotten to add something else they need to their cart. Whatever the case, it’s the perfect opportunity for increased upsells.

2. Lower shipping costs.

Shipping orders from a retailer’s distribution center to a customers’ front door can be expensive for the retailer, with labor and packaging costs quickly adding up. Retailers can save on last mile shipping if customers pick up items from the store, while still offering a fast, free shipping option.

3. Better inventory management.

With BOPIS, businesses no longer need a separate online and in-store inventory system. Orders can be fulfilled both from the distribution center or store shelves, wherever is faster, giving retailers access to a larger inventory. By combining and optimizing the two systems, retailers can have better insight into what’s available in real-time.

Examples of Major Retailers Offering BOPIS

Recently, we’ve seen many major retailers offer BOPIS and realize the benefits of this fulfillment option. Let’s take a look at three retailers who have implemented the technology.

Walmart.

Walmart offers curb-side and in-store pickup for customers on the go. Customers can shop Walmart’s huge selection of groceries online and have them ready when it’s convenient for the shopper. Walmart’s grocery pickup combines the convenience of online shopping with the ease of never leaving the car, all at no additional cost.

Target.

Like Walmart, Target is also offering BOPIS capabilities to make shopping easy and convenient for customers. Order Pickup allows customers to order items from Target.com or the app and pick them up at their local store. Additionally, Target’s Drive Up allows customers to choose from thousands of items in the Target app and will notify users when the order is ready for pick up. Customers park in the designated spot and associates will come load up the car.

Petco.

Petco has been offering in-store pickups for a while now. This service allows customers to order a bag of dog food or replace a broken leash in the same day, so pet owners don’t have to wait for delivery to take care of their beloved animals.

Examples of Ecommerce Brands Offering BOPIS

You don’t have to be a major retailer with thousands of stores to offer BOPIS. In fact, Randem Retail provides an app that works in conjunction with the BigCommerce platform to make BOPIS accessible to businesses of all sizes. 

This new BOPIS app easily connects your POS inventory across multiple locations and supports pre-built connections to Vend, Heartland Retail and more to come very soon as well as APIs for custom integrations. 

Here are two customers using this solution and thriving.

Scooter Hut.

Scooter Hut Bopis

This Australian retailer of scooters for all ages has found great success with their BOPIS offering. They have eight stores all across Australia. On their website, customers can easily set their closest store to see what inventory is available there.

Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery.

Ackroyds Scottish Bakery Bopis

Started as a family butcher shop in the 1940s, Ackroyd’s is now a popular bakery located just outside Detroit in Redford, Michigan. They were forced to close their brick-and-mortar business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are now able to use it to provide customers their orders curbside. They also use their ecommerce site to ship their products nationwide. According to their website: “This shift has given us the opportunity to expand our national reach by having a better grasp on production and inventory...Our goal is to continue operating for years to come and, luckily, the shift to curbside pickup and nationwide shipping suits us quite well.”

Executive Summary

As retailers look to implement a BOPIS/ROPIS strategy to uplevel their last mile capabilities and customer experience offerings, they must ensure the following requirements are in place in order to create a BOPIS/BORIS/ROPIS offering:

  1. A website or app for ordering.
  2. At least one brick and mortar location.
  3. Real-time inventory capabilities.

While COVID-19 might have been the impetus for the massive growth that BOPIS has seen in the last year, that doesn’t mean it’s a flash in the pan trend. Shoppers continuously crave convenience, which is why retailers are adopting the buy-online, pick-up-in-store model (BOPIS) to compete against Amazon and effectively utilize their physical stores as hubs for fulfillment — ultimately placing the product in the hands of the consumer at a much faster rate.

FAQ

What does BOPIS stand for?

BOPIS stands for buy-online-pickup-in-store. This model is an omnichannel retail strategy that allows customers to enjoy the convenience of purchasing their order from an ecommerce store, while still picking it up in person from a brick-and-mortar business.

How does BOPIS work?

As the name suggests, BOPIS allows customers to purchase merchandise online and then pick it up in a physical store. From the store owner perspective, to add a BOPIS offering to your customers, you need to have an ecommerce site that can manage the inventory and notifications. For customers to have a positive BOPIS experience, they need to be assured the item that says it’s in stock at their chosen location really is. 

How is BOPIS related to curbside pickup?

Curbside pickup, sometimes referred to as BOPAC or buy-online-pickup-at-curb, is a subset of BOPIS. Curbside pickup has long been an option, but gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic because people wanted to avoid being inside stores as much as possible and appreciated contact-free or low-contact options. The convenience and efficiency of curbside pickup make this is not a trend that is not likely to fade.

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What benefits does BOPIS have for customers?

BOPIS allows customers to skip the inconvenience of driving to a store without knowing if their item will be there. They can also often get their item the same day they order it, providing some advantages over online shopping in which shipping costs and times have to be factored in.

What benefits does BOPIS have for retailers?

When a customer enters your physical store to collect their order, they may impulse buy other items. Even if you offer curbside pickup where they never come inside your store, the convenience your brand is offering to customers can give you a competitive advantage.

What is the outlook for BOPIS use post-COVID-19?

Whie COVID-19 certainly was an accelerant, BOPIS was already a growing trend before COVID-19 began. And it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In a recent survey, more than half of respondents said they planned to continue using BOPIS even after they felt safe to resume shopping in stores.

What do you need to launch BOPIS with your store?

To launch a BOPIS program for your store, you need an ecommerce site, at least one physical store and an inventory management solution. If you have multiple stores, it’s important to provide a solution that can give customers inventory visibility across all of your locations.

What does BORIS mean?

BORIS means buy-online-return-in-store. This is another omni channel selling strategy that can drive extra feet into your physical store, while also providing added convenience for customers.

What does ROPIS mean?

Slightly less talked about than BOPIS, ROPIS stands for reserve-online-pickup-in-store. This is another omnichannel strategy that can offer customers more freedom in how they will make their purchases. ROPIS allows them to reserve an item, but pay for it once they actually arrive for pick up.

What creates a positive BOPIS customer experience?

The same thing that creates any positive customer experience is true for BOPIS: it should be as seamless and friction-free as possible. Make it easy for customers to see what inventory is available at what store. Make it clear when they will be able to pick up their order and how they will be notified when it’s ready. If you’re providing curbside, make sure they are not waiting too long in their car. Overall, the more you can make BOPIS feel effortless for the customer, the more you can reap the competitive advantages.

Is BOPIS an omnichannel strategy?

When we talk about omnichannel retail here, we mean selling to customers across multiple types of channels. This can include social media, marketplaces, through your ecommerce store and in a physical store. BOPIS is considered an omnichannel or cross-channel strategy because it forges a connection between your online and physical stores.

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