We all know there can be a tremendous amount of friction involved with brick and mortar. Visiting a store and being unable to find what you were looking at online is a commonplace experience. There’s also the difficulty of finding a sales associate to help you, navigating aisles that are overflowing with stock, and facing lengthy queues at the checkout.
With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that so many consumers are choosing to shop online to save themselves the hassle. But this doesn’t mean that in-store retailing is dead.
It’s had a new lease on life as growing numbers of consumers opt for BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store) to further streamline their customer journey. According to Invespcro, 67% of consumers in the US have used BOPIS in the past six months, with 90% of retailers planning on offering BOPIS as a delivery option by the end of 2021.
So why is BOPIS growing so popular, and how can retailers use it to bridge their online and offline shopping experiences?
‘Buy Online, Pick Up In-store’ (also known as click and collect) is a shopping method where consumers place an order via an ecommerce site and pick up the goods at their closest store location. It enables consumers to avoid the downsides of traditional in-store retailing – and to maximize the undeniable benefits over home delivery.
As well as giving customers greater flexibility in their choice of delivery options, the rise of BOPIS marks a clear transition in how we conceptualize retail. It’s a sign that omnichannel is becoming a mainstream approach, with brick and mortar stores functioning as extensions of a customer’s online experience rather than as a standalone (and constricted) channel.
The process for BOPIS differs between retailers, but usually resembles the following:
It’s not difficult to see why BOPIS holds so much appeal for consumers, especially as we grow accustomed to the easy navigation of online shopping. As the boundaries between physical and digital selling channels become increasingly blurred, consumers expect to find the same level of convenience and seamless interaction in an offline setting.
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the popularity of BOPIS. Many consumers now are either unable or unwilling to shop in-person, or are being far more deliberate about their in-store visits. According to Narvar’s 2020 study, 44% of consumers say they are being more careful about their purchasing decisions to avoid extra trips into stores.
This is a notable problem when ecommerce requires consumers to purchase a product without trying or testing in advance (one of the reasons for the channel’s consistently high return rates). Rather than receiving a product at home and having to initiate a return on a separate trip, BOPIS allows a customer to view the item upon pick-up and return in the same visit if needed.
It’s easy to see how BOPIS streamlines the shopping experience for consumers, but what benefits does it offer retailers?
Eliminating pain points from the online shopping experience
Ecommerce might be a byword for convenience, but that doesn’t mean that consumers don’t abandon shopping journeys – or certain brands – that don’t deliver a seamless experience.
The truth is that the associated costs of home delivery can be very off-putting to consumers due to high shipping fees or slow delivery timeframes. According to a survey by Forbes, 77% of consumers have abandoned a purchase due to a lack of ‘satisfactory’ shipping options. In short, your shipping strategy really does matter.
BOPIS avoids consumers having to pay for shipping or face a lengthy wait for their items, with orders able to be fulfilled and ready for pick-up in as little as an hour. Furthermore, if more customers are electing for in-store pick-up, this means fewer customer orders that you’re having to coordinate shipping for!
More in-store foot traffic
Declining foot traffic has been a long-running issue for brick and mortar retail, even before the onset of the pandemic, with growing numbers of consumers choosing digital channels. Fusing together the benefits of offline and online shopping into the same customer journey can give your physical store locations a serious boost.
In particular, BOPIS gives your sales associates greater opportunities for cross-selling. Because these customers have already been converted, they are far more open to product suggestions than those who are ‘just browsing’, with 49% of BOPIS shoppers making additional purchases when picking up their items in-store.
More efficient inventory management
In order for BOPIS to work effectively, retailers need to operate an integrated inventory that can facilitate stock transfers between stores and warehouses. While this can seem like a lot of work compared with keeping offline and online inventory separate, it offers you a valuable opportunity to streamline order fulfillment across your business.
For example, integrated inventory allows a brick and mortar location to fulfill online orders in the case that the fulfillment center is out of stock. It also makes it far easier for stores to top up their inventory supply and request items for their in-store customers. In sum, this makes for far more seamless inventory management – and better customer experiences.
To sum up, BOPIS acts as a critical bridge between your retail store and your ecommerce presence. With consumers increasingly pursuing the convenience of online shopping and the tactile experiences of offline retail, BOPIS is the perfect strategy for meeting consumer demand and broadening your omnichannel capabilities.
If you don’t have an integrated inventory or real-time visibility into your stock levels, now is a great time to have a chat with an experienced omnichannel fulfillment provider like PLG about how you can start offering BOPIS to your customers.