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pick-up in-store Shopify store fulfilment

Top Challenges of Shopify Buy Online Pick-Up In Store: Part I

by Aditya Patel |
Top Challenges of Shopify Buy Online Pick-Up In Store: Part I

A recent study from LaserShip found that 87 percent of retailers have implemented Buy Online Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) in response to pandemic pressures over the past two years. BOPIS has become a critical strategy for brands hoping to optimize their retail locations, especially those with a large percentage of their business in the eCommerce space. It’s a natural extension for eCommerce retailers because it offers a new opportunity to reduce delivery times and let online customers access the brand experience first-hand.

Unfortunately, implementing a successful and scalable Buy Online Pick-Up In Store program takes a lot of time and resources. There are a lot of bottlenecks in the process, especially for Shopify retailers. At HotWax, we work with Shopify retailers to facilitate same-day BOPIS to provide the best return on inventory and increase conversion rates. 

In our conversations with Shopify merchants, we hear the same BOPIS challenges time and time again. In this blog, we dive into these common woes and share insights on how to overcome them.

Challenge 1: Achieving Full, Real-Time Inventory Accuracy

Gaining accurate, real-time visibility into inventory across every retail channel is the key to a successful Buy Online Pick-Up In Store strategy. Without accurate inventory data, retailers risk overpromising on inventory and leaving customers disappointed by a stockout on items they anticipated taking home – an easy way to drive customers to competitors the next time they make a purchase.

Unfortunately, unifying real-time inventory data is also one of the most challenging aspects of launching BOPIS. For businesses with several store locations and fulfillment centers, it can become quite complex very quickly. 

Inventory management is especially difficult when it comes to cases of multi-location fulfillment. One retailer we recently spoke to wanted to create “walls” around store and warehouse locations within their inventory management system as part of their multi-warehouse fulfillment strategy. They wanted to allow Buy Online Pick-Up In Store orders from their in-store inventory, but did not want their full in-store inventory to be available for eCommerce sales. This specific multi-location fulfillment scenarios are incredibly challenging to manage within Shopify currently – there’s no way for retailers to enable BOPIS without also having to allow automatic Ship From Store when products are out of stock in the warehouse. Furthermore, Shopify` merchants are unable to select which store locations online orders should be shipped from. 

Solution: We live in an age of instant gratification. That means you need an intelligent inventory management system that can adapt to meet your needs and ensure enough inventory is on hand to meet demand. Invest in an OMS that enables real-time inventory visibility across all store locations and warehouses in order to provide both store associates and online shoppers with the most up-to-date product data. 

Retailers also need an OMS that can offer local pick-up without enabling multi-location fulfillment or maintain safety stock so enough inventory is available for walk-in customers. With an OMS, Shopify retailers can choose if they want to enable BOPIS and Ship From Store or only BOPIS alone. They can also choose which store to ship online orders from, which is a capability that Shopify currently does not offer.

Challenge 2: Managing In-Store Logistics

Another common challenge we hear from retailers building their omnichannel offering has to do with their in-store retail team’s operations. From setting clear expectations to building a user-friendly standard operating procedure, there are a lot of challenges for an in-store team that may not be trained in order fulfillment and equipped with the tools they need to run BOPIS effectively.

Many brands find enterprise apps unusable and cause staff onboarding to take an eternity. Store employees quickly become frustrated with these apps, especially when paired with inadequate training, leading to inefficient BOPIS operations and poor customer experiences. 

A Shopify merchant we recently spoke to expressed how challenging in-store order fulfillment notifications are on Shopify’s native platform. Notifications for BOPIS orders were sent to their in-store POS tablet, but almost no information was included within the notification itself. Store associates were forced to go into the back-end and search for the information they needed to fulfill the order, a very time-consuming process.

Another retailer recently mentioned misaligned expectations between their eCommerce and in-store retail teams when using Shopify. The retail team expected every single feature from a traditional retail solution and had trouble adapting to Shopify’s limited functionality. There was a gap between what Shopify could provide and what was expected from the retail team.

Solution: Setting your in-store team up for success requires a user-friendly in-store tech stack that can be calibrated to meet your team’s unique needs. You need an application that can quickly and seamlessly provide the information needed to store associates for incoming Buy Online Pick-Up In Store orders, and that has the ability to send push notifications to remind associates of upcoming orders. But it doesn’t stop with the tech stack. Before rolling out a BOPIS initiative, make sure you have designated spaces in your store for BOPIS orders so as not to interfere with in-store operations, and train your associates on how to operate the tech and fulfill orders efficiently.

Challenge 3: Time-Consuming, Manual Processes Needed to Manage Large-Scale Initiatives

Shopify has serious shortcomings when it comes to managing Buy Online Pick-Up In Store initiatives across multiple stores and fulfillment locations. Its limited functionality causes retail teams to waste hours on manual processes in order to scale up their BOPIS or Ship From Store offerings.

For example, a Shopify merchant we recently spoke to had to create their own bespoke solution for inventory tracking functionality between separate locations because Shopify’s platform could not provide accurate inventory tracking across their stock in stores around the world. And many retailers we speak to waste hours manually inputting data regarding inventory transfers and returns.

Furthermore, the inability to set up geofencing in Shopify creates a broken customer experience for brands hoping to manage BOPIS across locations in different regions. For example, if a shopper is located in Texas, they are still given the option to select BOPIS at a store in New York. 

Solution: The idea of BOPIS is to maximize customer convenience across multiple channels and locations. Unfortunately, Shopify’s native offerings come up short in their ability to  handle multiple physical locations with different sets of inventory and run distinct reports. Retailers need an OMS that can eliminate these convoluted processes.

An omnichannel OMS can help merchants scale by connecting multiple Shopify POS instances and providing a global inventory view across all the store locations around the globe. This automation eliminates the manual process of updating inventory across multiple locations. Additionally, geotargeting allows customers to select their city or zip code so they can see which products have a Buy Online Pick-Up In Store option for their area from the product detail page (PDP).

Challenge 4: Finding an Intelligent Distributed Order Management System

A distributed order management system (OMS) is central to a successful omnichannel journey, including Buy Online Pick-Up In Store and ship-to-store. It connects customer-facing channels with back-end systems like WMS, ERP, POS, and CRM to deliver a single, unified view of inventory.

In addition to its use as an inventory management platform, a modern OMS serves a critical role as an order routing engine for retailers hoping to scale a BOPIS program across several stores and fulfillment locations. Even with a small number of fulfillment locations, order routing quickly becomes complex given the number of different factors that must be considered.

In a recent conversation with an omnichannel retailer, they expressed how challenging effective order management is without an intelligent, rule-based order engine to route orders to the nearest store or warehouse based on a set of criteria and preferences. These criteria should extend far beyond simple geographic data to include inventory availability, supply pipeline, customer preferences, and more to reduce fulfillment time, cut costs, and maximize customer satisfaction.

Solution: The Distributed OMS plays a critical role in the buying journey from product discovery to purchase and beyond. A rule-based application with advanced order routing capabilities is a key component of any modern omnichannel retailer’s tech stack in order to meet customers’ lightning-fast delivery expectations.

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HotWax Commerce helps omnichannel merchants offer Buy Online Pick-Up In Store to their customers with custom applications that integrate directly with Shopify. Our BOPIS application is designed to empower store associates and prioritize a seamless customer experience through real-time push notifications, BOPIS-specific dashboards, local availability on the product detail page, and much more. Request a consultation with the HotWax team of experts to see how our best-in-class BOPIS application helps Shopify merchants scale BOPIS and other omnichannel initiatives to maximize their return on inventory and increase profitability.

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Aditya PAtel

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