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pick-up in-store

5 Ways Retailers can Optimize BOPIS to Fasten Delivery & Pick-Up Experience

by Divesh Dutta |

The retail industry continues to evolve with the times, and the growing popularity of the buy-online-pick-up in store (BOPIS) sales model is contributing to the market’s rapid growth. BOPIS blends the best of physical retail with the online experience, which allows both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce sales to thrive. Still not convinced how BOPIS has ushered in a new era of the retail industry?

In the fourth quarter of 2019, total retail sales approached nearly $1.4 trillion, with e-commerce sales reaching $187.3 billion. For 2019 overall, e-commerce sales reached $601.7 billion. It's no surprise, then, that retailers are excited by omnichannel strategies that allow them to capitalize on the rise in ecommerce sales while leveraging in-store inventories and personnel.

But achieving a successful BOPIS model is easier said than done. All the efforts of your BOPIS initiative might fail or do more harm than good if it’s not done right. In this blog, we will discuss all the points that are important for the successful execution of your BOPIS strategy.

1. Customer Experience

There's no point in offering a buy-online-pick-up in store model if your customers don't know about it, right? The first step in a successful BOPIS strategy is to educate your customers about this retail concept. On your homepage, use banners so shoppers know this is an option. In your physical stores, display signs to ensure consumers realize they can shop from their homes and pick up items in-store. Finally, offer a frequently asked questions section on your site to make them feel comfortable about this retail process and teach them how they can take advantage of this retail model. 

If you’re unsure that your current BOPIS strategy isn’t meeting customer expectations,  ask yourself the following questions to ensure your BOPIS experience is top-notch:

  • Buying: Can users filter results to view BOPIS-only items? Can they easily find nearby stores with available inventory? Is there a clear button on the product detail page that allows customers to find the nearest store? Are shoppers able to save their default stores to reduce the steps needed for future BOPIS orders. By offering these features, you can improve conversion rates.

  • Notifications: Do customers receive updates on what information (ID/order number) they’ll need to pick up their items? Do they receive notifications when their orders are ready for pick-up?

  • Pickup: Do your stores have clear signage that guides shoppers where to go for their pick-up? What about exchanging items? Can they try their products before leaving the store? 

2. Store Operations and Layout

The next part of a successful BOPIS strategy involves your employees, who must buy into the concept to ensure it’s carried out effectively online and in-store. To prepare associates for this next retail phase, educate them how to help customers find and pick up their items in-store, train them on how to upsell customers when they pick up their orders, and ensure associates understand BOPIS orders aren’t just counted as online sales. This last point is essential because you don’t want associates losing their motivation to make a sale and help customers. 

Other considerations of an effective BOPIS model include:

  • Space layout: How much real estate do you have in-store to devote to a BOPIS order pickup desk? Where should it be located?

  • Staffing: Do you need additional store associates to accommodate BOPIS orders? What type of volume of BOPIS orders do you expect to generate?

  • Order preparation: Can your staff members easily prepare BOPIS orders? Customers don’t want to wait days to pick up their orders; you should be able to fulfill orders with hours. Otherwise, their next BOPIS order might just be from your direct competitors. 

3. Store Crediting and Commission 

Employees are driven by their sales efforts and compensation for those efforts. With a BOPIS strategy, associates may become disinterested in prioritizing BOPIS orders if they aren’t counted toward their store’s sales targets. You must balance the needs of your customers with the people operating your stores. Consider offering a commission to associates who fulfill BOPIS orders to ensure the shopper experience is never degraded. The last thing you want is an employee not giving a customer the time of day because they’re not incentivized to complete BOPIS orders. 

The offline and online retail channels can no longer be managed as separate entities in terms of profits and loss statements. The previous playbook of assigning revenue from a specific channel is old news, and retailers should change with the times, given that today’s customers are channel-agnostic. Consider:

  • Giving full credit for online orders to store personnel, regardless of where orders were fulfilled.

  • Crediting stores for all sales that occur within a certain radius of that location (ZIP code). This strategy enables retailers to attribute online sales revenue to the appropriate store. 

4. Technology 

Mobile devices have transformed how customers research products and make purchases. Soon, mobile devices will account for more than half of all retail ecommerce sales. If your website isn’t designed with mobile devices in mind and loads within seconds, you’re not keeping up with best e-commerce practices and can’t support a successful BOPIS strategy, given that most shoppers use their smartphones and tablets to purchase items. 

In addition to establishing a BOPIS foundation that supports mobile commerce, consider incorporating other technology throughout your retail operations:

  • A Distributed Order Management system (DOM) can provide real-time in-store inventory to your website. A DOM will ensure your stores can identify any bottlenecks with your order fulfillment and ensure items are replenished to avoid missing out on sales opportunities. 

  • Associates with access to in-store apps can view which BOPIS orders need to be prepared for pick-up. Employees should also have access to product recommendations they can suggest to customers to increase average order values. 

5. Inventory & Assessment Planning 

You don’t have to rush to implement a BOPIS retail model if you currently lack such a strategy. Remember, you don’t need to offer BOPIS options for every product or product category. Test this model out on a few stores or a few cities to ensure you can meet the fulfillment needs of both online and in-store shoppers before expanding to other locations. Start with items you anticipate will sell more through a BOPIS model and, over time, analyze which products are most popular to plan future inventory accordingly. 

BOPIS orders might consume all of your in-store inventory and your walk-in customers’ experience may degrade. An endless aisle approach is ideal for ensuring a smooth shopping experience and avoiding this degradation, as associates can take a customer’s order instantly—even for items you don’t have in stock so you don’t lose out on this sale. 

Another important aspect of your analysis should focus on key performance indicators (KPIs). By measuring average store footfall, order value, and online conversion rates, you will have a full understanding of which locations are benefiting most from the BOPIS model. This data will ensure your company generates the most lucrative return on investment for any future expansion. 

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Numerous factors go into an effective BOPIS strategy. If you want to get your BOPIS retail model right the first time, or you want help optimizing your current process, contact our omnichannel experts to set your business up for success.

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