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BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup in Store): Revolutionizing Retail

Discover why buy online, pick up in‑store (BOPIS) is rapidly becoming the future of retail with our comprehensive guide for business owners.

Your customers are shopping online, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to leave their homes and visit your retail establishment. Instead, they might choose to shop online and pick up in-store to save time on both their shopping trip and eliminate the delivery process, allowing them to get the items they need or want faster than e-commerce shipping will allow.

BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), also known as click and collect or ROPIS (reserve online, pick up in store), helps online shoppers avoid delays and fees while giving them the opportunity to confirm their orders and check for item availability. Essentially, it combines online and physical stores to give customers more options and flexibility.

For businesses, BOPIS can enhance the customer experience, improve inventory management, and help bring more foot traffic into stores. When someone buys online and picks it up in-store, they’ll see all the products you sell, piquing their interest and enticing them to browse your selection.

So what is BOPIS for retail stores, and how can you start using it to increase sales while enhancing the customer experience? Keep reading to learn more about BOPIS shopping and its benefits, challenges, and best practices.

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What is BOPIS?

BOPIS shopping is when a customer buys online and picks it up in-store. They can purchase items from your store on your website, then confirm their pickup time and visit your store once they receive a notification that it’s ready.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of BOPIS in retail stores because it enabled customers to keep shopping while social distancing. Now, many major retailers, including your favorites like Target, Sephora, Walmart, Nordstrom, and even restaurants, use a BOPIS strategy with in-person pickup, with global BOPIS retail sales expected to reach more than $700 billion by 2027.

The numbers on BOPIS don’t lie; online shoppers want to buy online and pick up orders in a designated area to avoid long checkout lines and chaotic shopping aisles.

You can even implement curbside pickup to make the shopping experience even more convenient for your customers.

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:

Increased foot traffic

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.

Inventory synchronization

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.

Advertisement to create customer awareness

Your customers won’t use BOPIS shopping if they don’t know about it. Once you’ve implemented BOPIS, you should create marketing campaigns to spread awareness about your new checkout and pickup option.

Your advertising strategy should focus on customers within your geographic area. If you invest in digital advertising, you can use geotargeting to attract customers most likely to visit your store based on where they live, work, or play.

You can also use product retargeting to bring customers back to your website after they’ve viewed a product but didn’t complete checkout.

BOPIS best practices

Implementing BOPIS for retail stores is a large investment, but it’s well worth it to help you attract and retain customers by offering them convenience and flexibility. Use these BOPIS best practices to create a better customer experience:

Streamlined order fulfillment process

The whole point of BOPIS is to make shopping more convenient for your customers. Having a streamlined order fulfillment process ensures customers can pick up their orders at a time that’s most convenient for them.

During the checkout process, you can let your customers choose the day and time for pickup. However, since picking and packing the order can take some time, especially if there are multiple BOPIS orders, it’s always best to leave a store associate with a buffer, giving them a minimum amount of time to get everything prepared for the customer.

Clear communication with customers

You should have clear communication with customers about how the process works. You can include information on your checkout page to set their expectations. In addition, you should send them notifications about their order to help them determine if the order was received and when and where they can pick it up.

Robust inventory management system

You must have a robust inventory management system when using BOPIS because it’ll enable you to track inventory across multiple channels. Your inventory management system must be able to track in-store and online purchases and update your website to ensure customers aren’t placing orders for out-of-stock items.

Additionally, your inventory management system should alert you when an item needs to be reordered from another store or shipped from the warehouse.

User-friendly website and mobile app

BOPIS combines e-commerce with a traditional retail experience, so you’ll need a user-friendly website and mobile app to ensure your customers can find the items they’re looking for and checkout easily.

Many of your customers will be shopping online using their smartphones, so your website should have fast load speeds and a good overall user experience.

Revolutionize your retail strategy with BOPIS

BOPIS combines the best of online shopping and brick-and-mortar retail. Offering a BOPIS shopping experience gives customers convenience and flexibility while bringing foot traffic into your store.

There are two essential components of any BOPIS strategy: your retail location and an online store; both must offer unparalleled customer experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

Are you ready to begin using BOPIS? Use our suite of tools to help build your website and grow your audience. Mailchimp makes it easy to create good online shopping experiences and integrate your website with your inventory management system to track online and offline sales, improving the customer experience and helping you sell more. Try Mailchimp today.

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