How does BOPIS work?
The BOPIS shopping experience expands your customers’ choices by giving them more flexibility in how they shop and how quickly they want to receive their items. There are three steps to BOPIS:
Customer shops online
The BOPIS process for customers works exactly like e-commerce until the final steps. The customer visits your online store or app and browses your products to purchase orders online. However, before they check out, they can select BOPIS order pickup.
If a customer chooses BOPIS fulfillment, they can select a time and location. If you have multiple retail locations, inventory updates can give your customers options to help them find the closest and most convenient physical retail store for pickup.
Your store fulfills the order
If the ordered items are in stock, a store associate can locate them and prepare them for pickup and send them a notification either via email or text to let them know exactly when their order is ready for pickup. However, if you have multiple retail locations, it may be possible that one store doesn’t have the ordered item in stock.
In this case, you’ll either need to retrieve it from the warehouse or order it from another location. You can also let your customer know that the item they want isn’t in stock at your store, but they can pick it up at another location if they need it faster.
BOPIS order pickup
Once your customer receives a notification that their BOPIS order is ready, they can visit your store to pick it up. You should have a dedicated area for online purchases that’s easy to find. Many retailers also do curbside pickup, which makes BOPIS shopping more convenient.
However, the downside of curbside pickup BOPIS is that your customers don’t enter your store, so they don’t have the opportunity to see everything else you have to offer.
Benefits of BOPIS for businesses
BOPIS is a customer experience strategy that’s designed to give your customers more flexibility and convenience than in-store or online shopping. Using buy online, pick up in-store can help you stay ahead of the competition, attract more customers, and provide them with an unparalleled experience to keep them coming back for more. Here are a few of the biggest benefits of BOPIS for online stores:
BOPIS drives more customers to physical store locations. When customers pick up their orders, they’re more inclined to browse other products, which could potentially lead to additional purchases.
Of course, if you use a curbside pickup strategy, your customers won’t have the opportunity to get out of their cars and browse the rest of your offerings.
There’s more than one type of customer, so if you plan to use a BOPIS order strategy, consider those who prefer picking up items in their cars and those who have more time on their hands to peruse the aisles.
Improved inventory management
BOPIS helps customers ensure the products they want are in stock at the most convenient location for them. Consider how people shopped a few decades ago. If their retail store of choice had a website, they might look at items online only to find out those items were out of stock once they went to look for them in the aisles.
Now, real-time inventory updates on your website tell them when and where they can pick up their orders, giving them more insight into the process. Letting customers order online and pick up in stores can help provide more demand forecasting while reducing the risk of over- or under-stocking and enables real-time tracking for businesses.
Reduced shipping costs
Most online retailers offer free shipping. However, they actually share shipping costs with their customers or increase the price of products to cover the cost of free shipping, so shipping isn’t necessarily always “free.” Shipping costs can scare customers away, forcing them to abandon their shopping carts because there aren’t enough affordable options.
However, when you use BOPIS, you can eliminate your customers’ shipping costs to give them the confidence to purchase products online.
Enhanced customer experience
Convenient, flexibility, and cost savings improve the customer experience. With BOPIS, your customers no longer have to wait for products to arrive at their doors or wait in long lines, essentially giving them the best of both worlds.
In addition, they can confirm that an item is in stock and choose a preferred store location, making the process even more convenient. When your customers order online and pick up in-store, they can reduce the friction of shopping in stores and spending time searching for items that may be out of stock.
In addition to offering flexibility and convenience, BOPIS also addresses a common concern among customers: the uncertainty of online shopping. When making online purchases, customers may not always have a clear idea of what to expect, particularly when buying from an unfamiliar retailer.
With BOPIS, customers can shop online and pick up in stores, giving them time to inspect the product before they leave the store. If the customer is unsatisfied with their order, they can begin the returns process or talk to a customer support agent immediately instead of dealing with a returns process days later.
Challenges of implementing BOPIS
BOPIS is a highly effective strategy for attracting customers and improving customer retention. However, there are several challenges small business owners may face when implementing BOPIS for the first time, such as:
Sufficient storage capacity
Sufficient storage capacity can be a real headache for BOPIS retailers. With a large number of online orders to fulfill, retailers need to allocate physical space in their stores to hold these products.
This can be a challenge during peak shopping seasons, as it requires efficient use of storage facilities without hindering in-store operations. Retailers may need to optimize their storage areas or invest in additional facilities to keep up with demand. Failure to address storage issues can lead to delayed or canceled orders, frustrated customers, and lost sales opportunities.
Integration with legacy systems
With old inventory management and point-of-sale systems, integrating BOPIS features can be complex and require significant IT expertise. Outdated systems can also lead to incorrect inventory information being displayed online, causing trouble for customers and fulfillment teams.
Most brick-and-mortar stores use inventory management systems that track warehouse inventory and store floor inventory. However, when you implement BOPIS, more customers will be using your website, so your system must integrate with your online store to ensure items are in stock and find the best pickup location for customers.
Staff training and management
When implementing a BOPIS order fulfillment strategy, you’ll need to train your staff on how to handle orders. Many companies hire a store associate to handle all BOPIS orders. When customers purchase online, that person begins the shopping process and fulfills the order for the customer.
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