If you’re looking for new ways to introduce convenience and ease to the customer experience, BOPIS could be a great solution. Short for “buy online, pick up in store,” this is an increasingly popular service for retailers to offer customers as it offers the best of online shopping and in-person retail experience.
BOPIS offers a ton of benefits for customers and retailers alike. Below, we’ll look at exactly what BOPIS is and break down the benefits and drawbacks. Armed with this knowledge, you can decide if BOPIS is right for your business.
What Is BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up in Store) in Retail?
BOPIS allows customers to order products online and pick them up at a physical storefront. It is sometimes referred to as “click and collect” and also includes the popular sub-service of curbside pickup. This sort of service has risen in popularity in recent years, especially due to the pandemic.
BOPIS is only suitable for companies that have an online store and at least one physical location.
How Does BOPIS Work?
BOPIS allows customers to fulfill their online orders in a flexible and convenient way. First, they can use your website or mobile app to find the product(s) they want to buy. If the products are in stock at their local store, they can choose BOPIS, instead of shipping, at checkout.
For BOPIS, customers will pay online when they order the product. This differs from ROPIS (reserve online, pick up in store), where the customer doesn’t pay until they come to collect the products. Both offer the same convenience for customers, but BOPIS helps guarantee the customer will actually collect their purchase.
When you get a notification that an order has come through, you or your staff set aside the product(s) and send the customer a notification (usually via SMS or email) that their order is ready. If for some reason the product(s) are not in stock, you can order them from your distributor and communicate the delay with the customer.
After the order is ready and the customer has been notified, they can come collect it either in store, in the designated lockers, or through curbside delivery. For curbside or locker delivery, you’ll need to set a specific time, but if the pickup happens in-store, the customer will just need to stop by during opening hours.
How Does BOPIS Benefit Customers?
BOPIS benefits customers in a few key ways:
- Convenient – BOPIS is often more convenient than shopping in-store, especially if the customer knows exactly what they want.
- Quick – For local customers, BOPIS is often faster than shipping, especially during busy periods or times with a lot of delays. BOPIS can usually be fulfilled within 24 hours, if not sooner.
- Cheap – BOPIS generally doesn’t have any associated fees, whereas shipping can increase the overall cost of the order for the customer.
- Safer – For customers that are away from home during the day, leaving shipped packages at their doors can result in damage or even theft. BOPIS prevents this by ensuring the product goes directly to the customer.
- Real-time availability – BOPIS lets customers understand what products are in their local stores to be available for immediate purchase.
How Does BOPIS Benefit Retailers?
BOPIS has a lot of benefits for you as a retailer as well. Here are some of the ways it can help:
1. Boost Sales
Unlike shipping, BOPIS requires customers to physically come to pick up their purchases. When customers come in to pick up items, they might be tempted to browse around, which can lead to additional sales. It’s a great chance to upsell in a natural way.
Additionally, BOPIS is convenient for many customers. They see it as a positive brand experience, which can keep them coming back to your business.
2. Streamline Inventory Management
With BOPIS, you gain the advantage of being able to combine your online and in-store inventory management. This gives you a clearer overall picture of the products that are selling quickly, need reordering, or might be struggling. Fulfillment orders can come from the store itself or the distribution center, whichever is faster and has the stock on hand.
This can help with business-wide inventory, as an integrated system makes it easier to move merchandise around, accept online returns in-store, and more accurately accommodate specific product needs at different locations.
3. Reduced Shipping Expenses
Even if you push shipping costs onto the customer, there are still additional costs for the proper shipping materials, as well as ensuring correct processing and pickup details are followed. Additionally, shipping can often go wrong – packages get lost, stolen, or damaged – and you might be on the line for those costs.
Embracing BOPIS means processing and shipping costs are reduced for many purchases. This is especially true for local deliveries, which are often just as costly as long-distance shipping, which can be frustrating for retailers and customers alike.
4. Easier Returns
With shipping, customers aren’t able to properly look at products before they get sent. This can lead to more returns, often at your expense, depending on your specific return policy. BOPIS reduces the hassle and cost of these returns, because customers can examine or try on their new purchase before leaving the store.
If they’re unhappy, an exchange or return can be made on the spot. While you’ll still have to process the refund, you won’t have to deal with waiting for merchandise to return in the mail.
What Are the Downsides of BOPIS?
While BOPIS overall can be a very positive initiative for business owners, there are some downsides.
1. Speed of Service
Customers often use BOPIS because of time constraints. This can result in unrealistic customer expectations and a backlog of orders that need to be filled quickly. When customers don’t get their orders as fast as expected, this can negatively impact customer perception.
2. Real-Time inventory
While inventory integration can be a benefit of introducing a BOPIS system into your store, it can also be one of the hardest parts to adjust. If you’ve only used separate ecommerce and in-store inventory management, combining them might mean moving to an entirely new system.
You need a system that can not only manage both channels seamlessly, but update in real time so if a BOPIS comes through you can quickly set aside the required products before someone else buys them.
3. Upfront Costs
Getting a successful BOPIS system up and running does take considerable forethought and investments. As mentioned above, you might need a new inventory system to seamlessly integrate your online and in-store stock levels. You might also need to invest in a customer communications platform to alert customers of their order status.
Finally, fulfilling in-store orders can often take employees away from their day-to-day work. To ensure a smooth process, you might need to bring in more staff to deal specifically with BOPIS orders. These are all added expenses you’ll need to take into account.
BOPIS Best Practices
To ensure your BOPIS service runs smoothly, there are several best practices that should be followed.
Have a Clear System in Place
While having a streamlined inventory management system on the backend is important, it’s also important to have a clear system for managing orders within the store, once they have been fulfilled.
Orders should be neatly labeled and sorted to minimize wait time for customers. Additionally, you should also double-check that a customer is getting the right order by checking the name on their ID with the package ID, especially if orders are wrapped up during fulfillment. This keeps mixes up to a minimum and ensures a smooth customer experience.
Promote Your BOPIS System
A BOPIS system isn’t very effective if your customers aren’t aware of it as an option. This is especially true if you’re an established business that is introducing the feature for the first time. To make it worth the effort, ensure your loyal customers, and new customers, know that it is a new, convenient option for them.
Post about it on socials, blast it out in a marketing email, and put up signs in your store so it’s clearly communicated to everyone. The upfront investment costs will pay off if customers actually use the service.
Make Instructions Clear
For customers that want to use BOPIS, it’s crucial that your instructions are clear and concise. If you don’t communicate with customers accurately, they may show up before the order has been fulfilled or show up at the wrong location, creating issues both for them and for your staff.
Make sure you communicate once the order has been placed, along with when the order has been fulfilled, reminding them of protocols. SMS messages are great for real-time communications, but you can also use email and push notifications if your business has a dedicated app.
Train Your Staff
Getting a well-oiled BOPIS system in place may take some time. One way to ensure a smooth transition into this new system is to correctly train up your staff so they fully understand the ins and outs.
Depending on the size of your store(s), it may even be worth having a dedicated BOPIS staff member to fulfill orders and manage the communications with customers. While all the staff should be familiar with the system, assigning one person on shift to do it helps make things run smoother and prevent orders falling through the cracks.
Examples of Companies That Offer BOPIS
More and more companies around the world are offering BOPIS as an alternative to both shipping and shopping in-store. This trend has increased dramatically due to the pandemic, but has stuck around due to both convenience for customers and retailers.
Walmart offers BOPIS on thousands of items across its store with in-store and curbside pick up. While you can use BOPIS for almost any product available at Walmart, it has become especially popular for grocery shopping. For curbside pickup, you select a specific time slot during checkout and a store associate will bring your products right to your car.
Apple offers free shipping for all products, but it can take up to 7 days for standard shipping. Customers that are eager to get products sooner can pick them up from their local Apple store by choosing the location online to ensure the store has the product available. Apple claims that most products are ready for pickup within an hour.
Sephora offers BOPIS for all beauty and makeup products at participating locations. Customers can choose “pick up” during their online checkout and then get notified when their order is ready. Sephora even encourages customers to shop while they wait for their order, which, as mentioned above, can increase sales.
Lululemon has had great success with their BOPIS model. Customers can choose from any of their stores across the States (other countries may vary in their click and collect options) and pick it up almost immediately.
What Is the Best Way to Accept Payments in Your Online Store?
Whether you want to use a BOPIS system for your online store or not, you need a simple and straightforward way to accept payments. Pay.com is a full payment service provider that makes it easy for customers to pay directly through your website with an integrated, customized checkout page.
With Pay.com, you can accept many different payment methods, including debit cards, credit cards, ACH, and digital wallets. The service is backed by the highest level of PCI DSS compliance (level 1) and is supported by 3D Secure 2.0 to prevent fraudulent transactions.
After customers make purchases, their transactions will show up in your Pay Dashboard, where you can track and monitor all transactions and respond to any issues that emerge.
It’s easy to get set up with Pay.com and you can start accepting payments on your site in no time at all. Click here to create your account now!
The Bottom Line: Is BOPIS Right for Your Business?
If your small business is looking for a way to enhance customer experience and add convenience, BOPIS could be a great option. While it does require a good deal of preparation and ongoing management, BOPIS can benefit you and your customers.
BOPIS helps save on shipping costs, avoid delays, ensure product availability, and streamline the process from start to finish. As long as you ensure you have a clear system to track and manage BOPIS orders, send and receive customer communications, and have staff trained accurately, it can be a great addition to your business.
For BOPIS and any other type of online checkout, there is no better solution than Pay.com. With the ability to integrate a custom, branded checkout page directly into your ecommerce store, Pay.com provides a secure way to accept many different payment methods including credit cards and Google Pay.