Best of Both Worlds: Buy Online, Pick-up In Store

Amidst the pandemic, retailers around the world are opting for a buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) strategy to provide a more convenient and near contactless shopping experience to the customers. In fact, the value of U.S. BOPIS purchases made during the pandemic increased by 63 percent in 2020, according to Statista

Adding BOPIS to your omnichannel retail strategy can help you attract more customers and maximize your profits. Before you offer this flexible option to your customers, though, it’s important to understand what BOPIS is, how it works, and which solutions you can use to add BOPIS to your online store.

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What is BOPIS?

Buy online, pick-up in store—also known as click-and-collect—is an omnichannel retail sales strategy that allows customers to make a purchase online and then pick up their order from the physical store. It’s particularly convenient for shoppers who are too busy to browse a physical retail store. 

Some retailers designate a pickup location or service area for customers’ BOPIS orders, such as a special counter or parking space. This helps avoid confusion and ensures customers who are ready to pick up their orders get quick service. 

Other variants of BOPIS include curbside pickup, reserve online pick-up in store (ROPIS), and buy online return in store (BORIS).

How does BOPIS work?

With the right software solutions in place, the BOPIS process is relatively straightforward.

1. Optimize your online store for in-store pick-up

First, you need an online store with an e-commerce platform that supports BOPIS, as well as a physical retail location that can support pick-up orders. You may need to switch e-commerce platforms to gain this functionality or create a designated area in your brick-and-mortar space to separate these orders from the rest of your inventory.

Once you have these measures in place, add “curbside pick-up” or “pick-up in store” as an additional delivery method, and give customers the option to select the day, time, and pickup location of their choice while checking out.

2. Fulfill the order

If the items are in stock, your store staff will receive the order and prepare the items for pickup. If the required items are not in stock, you may need to have the items shipped from a warehouse or another store location. This can cause unexpected delays, so an integrated inventory management system is important to align customer expectations around product availability and pickup timelines.

Related: What Hybrid Retailers Need to Know About SKUs

3. Notify the customer when their order is ready

Your customer will receive an alert via email, SMS, or both that their order is ready to be picked up. This can be automated using email marketing software, so you don’t have to worry about sending manual emails to every customer who places a BOPIS order. In the content of the message, it’s best to include clear instructions about where the customer should go to receive their order once they arrive at your store.

4. Update your order management system

Once the customer has picked up their order, your e-commerce platform’s order management system should allow you to mark the order as completed. This action can automatically generate a confirmation email to the customer so they have a record that the order has been picked up.

It’s worthwhile to set a time limit on orders that are pending pick-up. If you’ve sent multiple reminders and the customer hasn’t picked up their order after several days or weeks have passed, you can refund the order and re-stock the products so other customers can purchase those items and move the inventory off your shelves. However, it’s important to make this policy clear to your customers during checkout to avoid any miscommunication.

Also read: Supply Chain Strategies for Profitability

What are the benefits of BOPIS for customers and retailers?

BOPIS helps retailers increase sales and offer more convenience to customers with the following benefits: 

Reduced shipping costs

With BOPIS, shoppers can save money and time by conveniently picking up their orders at their convenience without paying for shipping charges. 

Also, you as a retailer can save big on last-mile shipping costs. Last-mile shipping refers to the final step of the supply chain journey when a parcel is moved from the distribution center to the door of the customer. 

Between carrier fees and shipping materials, the cost of moving products from warehouse to distribution centers and then to residential addresses can add up quickly. With BOPIS, these costs could be significantly reduced as customers pick up their orders from the store themselves.

Quicker service

Customers seek convenience and speed while shopping online or visiting a store physically. In many cases, BOPIS enables same-day order fulfillment when a shopper needs an item urgently. 

Instead of waiting for days to receive their parcel, customers can place their order online and then pick it up from the store in a few hours. However, this may put an unmanageable expectation on you and your in-store staff, so be careful not to over-promise on pick-up timelines.

Increased store traffic & extra sales

Another key advantage of BOPIS for brick-and-mortar retailers is that more people visit the physical store to pick up their orders which increases the foot traffic. While getting their parcel, customers may also browse through other items displayed in the store and make additional purchases.

Better security and safety

One of the challenges that both retailers and customers face is the risk of package theft. With BOPIS, customers get peace of mind knowing that their item is secure and they can pick it up from the store at their convenience.

Additionally, in-store pick-up avoids any potential damage that may occur during shipment. For particularly fragile or expensive items, it may be a good idea to offer those items for in-store pick-up only.

Easier returns & exchanges

Online shopping doesn’t give the satisfaction of checking the product before purchase. With BOPIS, customers can order an item online and then go to the store to determine whether it meets their expectations or not. If they aren’t satisfied with their purchase, they can easily return or exchange the product immediately rather than shipping it back to the warehouse. 

In many cases, this also eliminates most of the challenges associated with reverse logistics since the items were already shelved. 

Related: How SMBs Can Navigate Post-Holiday Returns

What are some challenges of BOPIS?

Though BOPIS offers many benefits, this model also has its own set of challenges.

Increased staffing requirements

Adding more work to existing in-store employees’ plates may lead to burnout, low morale, and worsened customer experience. Asking existing staff to take on BOPIS order fulfillment may not be a sustainable solution. Instead, you may need to hire additional staff who can fulfill customers’ BOPIS orders and keep your in-store operations running smoothly.

Lack of customer awareness & demand

Some customers may not understand how BOPIS works, and most will be unaware that you’ve started offering this option. Consider investing in marketing campaigns via social media, email, and in-store signage to create customer awareness. 

Which e-commerce platforms offer BOPIS?

Whether you currently have a brick-and-mortar store, an online store, or both, BOPIS functionality allows you to bridge the gap between the two. In many cases, this allows you to gain an advantage over your competitors.

Some e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Square, and WooCommerce support in-store pickup natively, whereas others may offer integrations with third-party logistics plugins. If this kind of flexibility is important to your business, make sure your current or future e-commerce platform provides this capability.

Read next: Best E-Commerce Platforms For Small Business

Maheen Kanwal
Maheen Kanwal
Maheen Kanwal is a contributor at TechnologyAdvice. She's passionate about writing well-researched content about technology and business. As a freelancer, she has written hundreds of engaging articles and blogs over the years in various niches such as technology, business, HR, education, career, and other general stuff.

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