Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) might just be the best long-term strategy for brick-and-mortar retailers. Allowing customers to purchase items online and pick them up curbside or in-store accommodates prevailing consumer demands: safety, efficiency, and convenience.
BOPIS will soon be a standard feature of most, if not all, brick-and-mortar operations. Virtually every major retailer already offers some form of curbside pickup, in-store pickup, or both.
Retailers that continually refine and differentiate their BOPIS strategies will thrive. We know that consumers are increasingly choosing where to shop based on convenience alone. Organizations that provide the fastest, most convenient means of picking up groceries, hot coffee, and other BOPIS-ready goods give customers little reason to stray.
That said, what makes a strong BOPIS program?
To help answer this, we polled 1,000 American consumers about what they like and dislike when it comes to buying online and picking up in-store. Numerous findings from our State of BOPIS 2021 Report shed light on how to craft a winning BOPIS strategy.
Key No. 1: Make Pickup as Convenient as Possible
National organizations like Walmart, Walgreens, and Target offer full-service curbside pickup. This is the standard for convenience.
Consumers have taken note. If you don’t offer curbside fulfillment, then you could sacrifice customers who don’t want to get out of their vehicle for one reason or another.
More than a third of consumers (34.3 percent) said they would be more likely to use BOPIS more often if the retailer brought their items to their vehicle. The message: don’t make your BOPIS customers come inside for their order if they don’t want to.
Key No. 2: Maintain an Abundant, Dynamic Inventory
Inventory management poses several persistent challenges. Food spoilage, limited storage space, and fluctuations in demand make inventory management one of the trickiest aspects of retail.
Customers know that your stores may not be able to fulfill every item they purchase each time that they order through BOPIS. That said, chronic inventory shortages or failure to inform customers when their items are not in stock could erode trust in your entire BOPIS operation, and the brand itself.
A quarter of consumers (25.2 percent) said that items not being available for pickup is the leading reason why they wouldn’t use BOPIS. Furthermore, 24.5 percent of consumers said that they would use BOPIS more often if the selection of items available for pickup was greater.
You may win over repeat customers by doing the following:
- investing in cross-channel inventory management systems;
- ensuring that your app and online ordering systems make it clear when items are out of stock; and
- offering complementary products that a consumer may purchase even when their first-choice item is out of stock.
Dynamic, cutting-edge inventory management tools and strategies are a must for any successful BOPIS operation.
Key No. 3: Offer Contactless Pickup
Retailers that offered BOPIS at the onset of the pandemic saw a 65 percent increase in such orders, per Adobe Research. This wasn’t coincidental — consumers were scared to go into stores, interact directly with other customers and store attendants, and run the risk of becoming sick.
Many consumers maintain this fear, and they’ll continue to choose retailers that allow them to pick up their items in the most contactless manner.
Thirty-five percent of consumers cited “concerns related to COVID-19” as the primary reason for using BOPIS. Fully contactless, curbside pickup is the obvious way to attract and retain health-conscious consumers.
Key No. 4: Ensure Fast Order Fulfillment
Consumer demands don’t typically regress. The desire for speedy order fulfillment is only going to grow.
Online retailers will ship goods to a customer’s home in two days or less. You’re competing with this, as well as other retailers whose order fulfillment times are speeding up.
Nearly 12 percent of consumers said that they will have items shipped to them if BOPIS fulfillment isn’t fast enough, while 20 percent said they would use BOPIS more often if orders were fulfilled more quickly.
Being able to process, fill and prepare customers’ orders for pickup more quickly than the competition is arguably the next frontier in BOPIS.
Key No. 5: Make the Pickup Process as Efficient as Possible
What good is having a customer’s order prepped and ready to go if the customer has to wait for 15 minutes when they arrive to get the items?
Your efforts in order fulfillment can be completely thwarted by an inability to get the items into consumers’ hands, trunks or backseats.
Nearly 36 percent of consumers said waiting to pick up their items was the No. 1 factor in a poor BOPIS experience. Another 11 percent of consumers said that a line at the BOPIS pickup station will prevent them from using BOPIS in the future.
Whatever your solution is, ensure that customers’ orders are delivered promptly once they arrive at your stores.
Key No. 6: Continue to Emphasize Customer Service
Customer service isn’t dead, it just looks different. When it comes to BOPIS, good customer service can mean:
- consistent mask-wearing by employees;
- greeting customers from a safe distance;
- ensuring customers are aware of order substitutions; and
- quick response to customers’ requests and concerns.
As McKinsey notes, customer care today means omnichannel customer service. Quick, user-friendly apps and online ordering systems may be just as vital to your organization’s reputation for customer service as in-person interactions are.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes: 10.3 percent of consumers said that unclear pickup instructions could discourage them from using BOPIS in the future. Do you provide clear instructions for how a customer should retrieve their items, or what they should do if all curbside parking spots are occupied?
You may continually upgrade your mobile app to address customer complaints, invest in physical infrastructure for order fulfillment, or dedicate more staff to BOPIS operations. Whatever resources and measures are necessary to maintain top-notch BOPIS experiences, do it.
More than half of consumers (53 percent) anticipate using BOPIS even more in the next year, and you can take advantage by preparing your organization today.
Bobby Marhamat is the CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage provider that helps businesses turn their TVs into interactive signs that drive sales, improve the in-location experience, and reinforce brand messaging.