BOPIS Retail: Why Top Brands Are Offering Buy Online Pick Up In Store
January 26, 2023
Choice and convenience are two standout benefits that draw shoppers to ecommerce. These elements apply to more than product offerings, however—online stores leverage both in their fulfillment as well to deliver a stellar customer experience and leave a lasting impression.
One technique that can impress buyers is the Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) retail option.
BOPIS is a convenient fulfillment method where consumers make online purchases and pick them up at brick-and-mortar locations instead of having them delivered.
It may sound like a major undertaking for your business, but this article will prove it’s a worthwhile investment to increase your sales.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about BOPIS, including:
- What BOPIS is
- Alternatives to Buy Online, Pick Up In Store
- BOPIS benefits and challenges
- How to implement BOPIS
- BOPIS best practices
We’ll also share some recommended tools to incorporate this fulfillment option smoothly into your process, as well as examples of it in action.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to harness BOPIS for your business—and will be eager to do so.
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What is BOPIS?
As defined above, BOPIS involves customers placing ecommerce orders and selecting in-store pickup as their method of delivery.
Retailers then notify them when packages are ready to be collected at their preferred location.
It’s a flexible fulfillment option that 67% of U.S. shoppers used in the first half of 2022. What’s more, 38% of retailers have said it’s key to driving traffic to their stores.
Not to be mistaken with BOPIS, there are other alternative fulfillment options that are similar yet distinctly different. We’ve broken them down below.
With Reserve Online, Pick Up In-Store, a customer visits your website, places what they want on reserve, then completes their payment at your brick-and-mortar store.
This option gives them confidence that the item(s) they want is in stock. However, they still need to talk to a sales rep or have staff guide them to finish the purchase process.
Buy Online, Pick Up At Curbside is the most similar to BOPIS.
When shoppers are notified that their orders are ready, rather than going into the store to pick them up, their packages are brought outside to their car for curbside pickup.
It’s even more convenient because it eliminates the need to enter your store or leave their vehicle. BOPAC also lets customers avoid crowds or queues.
Initially started in response to the distancing requirements of the recent pandemic, BOPAC has remained a staple thanks to its convenience and popularity.
Like BOPAC, Buy Online, Pick Up In Locker allows customers to bypass crowded stores and long lines.
Instead, buyers collect their online orders from a smart locker at a physical location.
It’s a more involved process, with customers receiving an automated notification containing a barcode. They then scan it at the designated smart locker to claim their item, resulting in a frictionless experience.
If you’ve ever seen someone grab a parcel from an Amazon locker pick-up station in your favorite Whole Foods, you’ve witnessed an iconic example of BOPIL.
Retailers may also choose to provide lockers in some of their locations to serve shoppers who want to pick up their items outside of store hours.
Lastly, with Buy Online, Return In-Store, customers go through a typical ecommerce purchase and have it delivered to their home.
But, if they’re dissatisfied with it, they can return it to a physical store.
One downside to this option, however, is that the return may have to be at a location they’ve never been to.
The benefits of BOPIS
Now let’s return to BOPIS and explain the benefits of offering it in your retail store.
First, we’ll cover the advantages for consumers. In addition to convenience and more choice, shoppers have the chance to see and hold their purchases before bringing them home.
Convenience and speed
People are accustomed to instant gratification, meaning speed is essential in ecommerce.
Thanks to BOPIS, online shoppers no longer have to wait a day or more for delivery. If they need an item immediately, they can pick it up in-store within an hour after their purchase.
It’s flexible as well since customers can visit a storefront and receive their order at a time that’s convenient for them.
They can pick it up on their way home, during work breaks, or whenever they’re free.
Returns and exchanges are also easier with BOPIS. People who have issues with their items can simply visit a local store and have them processed straightaway.
Shipping cost savings
Since customers physically pick up their packages instead of having them delivered, they don’t have to pay extra for shipping.
They save on delivery costs and still experience the convenience of online shopping.
Sometimes, ecommerce orders are canceled due to a lack of stock, whether by warehouse miscounts or other oversights.
With BOPIS, before notifying a customer that their order is ready for pickup, merchants must ensure it’s been properly picked and packed and is ready in the store.
BOPIS helps eliminate the uncertainty of whether an item will be there or not by assuring the shopper their item has been set aside in the store.
Statistics show at least 30% of ecommerce orders are returned, while the rate for brick-and-mortar store purchases is only 8.89%.
When asked their reasons for this, 22% of consumers said they return items because what they received looked different or didn’t match the online description.
This is a common issue with online shopping.
BOPIS lets consumers inspect their orders in person, which reduces the number of dissatisfied purchases (and returns).
An April 2022 survey by Sensormatic Solutions, a retail inventory technology company, found that 70% of consumers “would change their shopping habits if they discovered that a store or brand wasn’t operating sustainably.”
A June 2022 survey from PwC found that environmental, social, and governance concerns influence half of all consumers.
Across the board, shoppers are actively looking for more sustainable options and choosing brands that make them feel good about their purchase.
How does BOPIS come into play?
Although it may seem contradictory, visiting physical stores is more eco-friendly than having online purchases delivered. That’s because those who shop at brick-and-mortar locations are able to make single bulk purchases in one trip.
Meanwhile, online buyers may make frequent, smaller ones, resulting in more packaging waste and greenhouse emissions.
Even if you purchase multiple items online in one order, they may be fulfilled from different warehouses, which still results in multiple packages and trips.
BOPIS helps reduce your company’s carbon footprint by eliminating (for certain purchases) the use of packaging and shipping.
Tip: Encourage your shoppers to bring their own reusable shopping bags to reduce packaging waste even further. This doubles as a merchant benefit, as it brings your dunnage expenses down.
BOPIS benefits more than shoppers alone. Merchants are able to use it to provide a better customer experience, save on shipping, and boost sales.
Improved customer experience
A surveyed 50% of consumers prefer BOPIS because of the convenience it offers. Other key reasons are:
- The opportunity to see the product in person (77%)
- Avoiding shipping costs (65%)
- Easy returns (23%)
These advantages show BOPIS enhances multiple aspects of the customer experience, but if that’s not enough, 70% of shoppers specifically said it improves theirs.
While this seems like a benefit to the customer—and it is—an improved customer experience translates to an improved conversion rate for your store.
More store traffic
Because of its physical component, BOPIS drives customers (literally) to your brick-and-mortar store.
With more people coming by, your chances of retail upsells increases.
Not only that, shoppers may bring their friends and family with them to pick up their items—helping to introduce a new potential customer.
And, thanks to social proof, seeing that your retail store is busy could even bring in more foot traffic.
Store visits expand opportunities to make sales and close conversions: 75% of customers who used BOPIS asserted the chances of them making additional purchases thanks to it were higher.
Even more amazing is that 49% of them did so while picking up their orders.
Think of it as convincing your consumers to peruse your catalog a second time—the first was when they made their purchase online, and the second is when they can browse your retail store in person while picking up their order.
Better cost control
Did you know last-mile delivery accounts for over 53% of your total shipping costs? This can add up as you fulfill more orders.
BOPIS significantly reduces that expense, with items either being available in-store or shipped to your brick-and-mortar location instead of the customer.
Easier fulfillment management
A reduced need for transport between your distribution center, store, and customers means fewer logistics to oversee and manage.
You can also consolidate your in-store and online inventory management systems into one to streamline your operations.
This lets you fulfill online orders based on which location will yield a faster delivery, either from your store’s shelves or your distribution center.
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Challenges of BOPIS
As with all things in life, BOPIS comes with cons along with its pros. Let’s talk about some of the more common challenges that prevent merchants from offering BOPIS.
It requires physical stores
Having brick-and-mortar locations is a prerequisite for offering BOPIS as a fulfillment option.
As such, not everyone can provide it, like merchants who do business online only, or those for whom launching a physical storefront would be impractical.
Increased need for manpower
Depending on your business’s size, you may need more staff to execute BOPIS.
They’ll need to learn new processes and might struggle to divide their attention between fulfilling both online and in-store orders.
If that happens, your efficiency and customer experience will take a hit.
You’ll have to select and train employees who’ll devote themselves to fulfilling BOPIS orders, and that will require a hefty investment.
Customer wait times
Typically, BOPIS purchases are picked up at customer service desks, where returns are also processed. Those who man these stations will have to multitask, and this can slow down order fulfillment.
As a workaround solution, you could offer an alternative alongside BOPIS.
For example, BOPAC doesn’t require customers to enter your store or leave their vehicles. However, any extra fulfillment options will also necessitate additional help.
We mentioned how inventory management becomes easier with BOPIS.
However, combining both your online and in-store systems is no simple task, and it brings a related challenge with it—synchronization.
You want to avoid situations where your online store’s inventory doesn’t align with that of your brick-and-mortar location, as this leads to incorrect customer orders.
To merge your systems properly, you’ll need robust tools.
How brands can integrate BOPIS into their customer flows
Thankfully, you can take certain steps to prepare for and prevent the challenges we discussed.
Streamline your website or app
One significant factor you’ll need to consider is your ecommerce experience.
Online orders are placed using desktop and mobile devices, so creating a seamless experience for both is imperative.
For instance, make sure your website loads quickly and takes visitors through a simple, intuitive purchase process. Incorporate the BOPIS option during checkout as well.
Relatedly, your site should be mobile-friendly. If you can afford an app or operate on other ones, ensure they’re optimized.
Hire and train sufficient manpower
As previously discussed, offering BOPIS fulfillment entails new processes and extra work for your staff.
To circumvent this issue, make sure you have enough people who are well-trained in handling in-store orders.
This way, you can designate some employees to focus on the newly added workflows and tasks.
Optimize your omnichannel experience
Ensure a truly omnichannel buying experience that includes offline channels as well.
BOPIS is the perfect bridge between your online and offline channels, allowing shoppers to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Test your buyer journeys across your DTC website, social media stores, and other platforms. Make sure BOPIS is visible and easy to select as a delivery method, your orders route to the correct inventory hubs, and each retail location is trained in preparing and handling BOPIS orders.
Track all elements
When fulfilling in-store and online purchases in one location, aligning inventory levels for both channels can be difficult.
To ensure smooth sailing, organize and track everything. This both maintains a seamless customer experience and helps your employees.
Invest in technology and tools
To integrate BOPIS and monitor each element in your fulfillment process, specialized tools are essential. Find systems that can:
- Simplify order management
- Sync your inventory for offline and online orders in real-time
- Consolidate your sales data
- Automate some of your workflows (if possible)
Here are some recommended BOPIS software that provide the above capabilities.
Kibo has two solutions that enable both BOPIS and ROPIS:
- Order Management: This provides global inventory visibility across your offline and online channels and workflow automation. For your customers, it offers a wide selection of fulfillment options.
- Point of Sale (POS): This solution lets your sales associates pick, scan, and prepare orders. It has an intuitive UI that’s compatible across devices, as well as a product recommendations feature.
Pricing: Not provided; you have to get in touch for a demo and quote
Shopify’s POS solution includes a feature called Local pickup Pro. This lets you manage and fulfill BOPIS orders directly from Shopify POS and also has functionalities such as:
- Smart inventory management, which provides automations and a detailed look at your stock across channels
- Product, staff, and customer management capabilities
- Seamless checkout
- In-depth reporting for sales, product, and inventory insights
- Lite: Included with all Shopify Plans
- Pro: Additional $89 per location for all Shopify Plans; included with Plus
FenixCommerce offers a Software as a Service (SaaS) operations system specifically designed for BOPIS.
It supports major ecommerce platforms and allows businesses to configure local pickup locations, providing customers with convenient options. Other features include:
- Automated order pickup notifications
- Online-offline integration where stores are notified about order details
- Customization options
- Free Subscription Program: For clients on Shopify
- Sliding Scale Pricing: Tailored based on the needs and order volume of non-Shopify clients
enVista’s Unified Commerce Platform includes an order management system (OMS) that boasts three features essential to BOPIS:
- Customer experience management and rapid checkout thanks to the platform’s POS
- Inventory visibility across your stores, distribution centers, and more
- Order confirmations, alerts, and updates
It also has the ability to accommodate alternatives like BOPAC and its intuitive user interface (UI).
Best practices for running a BOPIS program
Ready to start offering BOPIS? Follow a few best practices to deliver a top-tier customer experience.
Dedicate sufficient space
BOPIS fulfillment will require you to commit in-store space.
For instance, high demand can generate excessive foot traffic, which hinders the in-store experience.
That can impede your overall store operations, so if you can, create a counter specifically for BOPIS orders. This separates it from queues for in-store shoppers and reduces long lines and bottlenecked transactions.
Offer an alternative
When BOPIS orders pile up and generate too much traffic, the in-store experience suffers (customer wait times lengthen, human error increases, etc).
To keep things moving, offer alternatives alongside BOPIS.
You could supplement it with BOPAC, so people don’t need to enter your store. BOPIL is also an option, which Amazon leverages through their Hub Lockers.
Explain to customers how BOPIS works before they commit to a purchase.
Teach them how to select that option at checkout and outline the in-store pickup process. This makes their experience frictionless and avoids hassles on your end due to miscommunication.
Communicate through preferred shopping channels
According to Insider Intelligence, in 2022, 83.3% of adults in the U.S. were estimated to browse products on their mobile devices, while 65.2% were predicted to make a purchase using them.
Align with this behavior by providing updates regarding their BOPIS order via mobile messaging apps or SMS to create a more seamless experience for shoppers.
BOPIS examples from real brands
Finally, here are some brands that have implemented BOPIS with great success.
The menswear brand Harry Rosen offers BOPIS as soon as a shopper selects an item, showing its in-store pickup availability.
Then, before checkout, buyers can choose how they’d like to receive their purchase.
Once someone clicks the in-store pickup method, they can select the most convenient store location and continue to complete the checkout process.
Afterward, customers are notified via email about their order and have to book a pickup appointment.
Then, they simply go to their chosen store’s service desk and show their email confirmation (printed or digital) and government-issued ID to collect their purchase.
You can view Harry Rosen’s complete BOPIS instructions here. This FAQ page contains more details on the process as well.
The retail giant Walmart also offers a BOPIS shipping option, conveniently showing the closest location and best pickup time on the product page.
Customers are shown the option for in-store pickup in the top right of their cart.
After clicking “Pickup instead,” an adjustable time slot appears, with Walmart stating how long they’ll hold the order.
Once a purchase is complete, the customer is notified via email when it’s ready.
They can then check in through Walmart’s app to tell employees they’re on the way. If they don’t have the app, buyers can also call the store.
You can view the company’s complete instructions here.
The apparel brand Hallenstein Brothers calls the BOPIS option Click&Collect and presents it clearly on the product page, much like the previous examples.
Before consumers can complete checkout, they need to choose Click & Collect it, which region they’re in, and their closest store.
Afterward, shoppers receive an email when their order’s ready. Upon arriving at the store, they approach a staff member and present their order number or the email and a valid ID.
You can see the Hallenstein Brothers BOPIS FAQ here.
Overcome the challenges of BOPIS to reap its rewards
Customers want choice when they shop, and the options you provide (or fail to) have the power to make or break a sale.
BOPIS can be a strong component of your ecommerce offering, especially with its ability to drive foot traffic and sales.
To introduce it into your business efficiently, streamline your online and offline shopping experience and apply tools to monitor and manage every logistical element.
Make sure you have capable and sufficient staffing to handle the process as well.
Keep the advice we’ve covered in mind, and your BOPIS program will launch as a stellar fulfillment option and bring in more sales.
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Rachel is a remote marketing manager with a background in building scalable content engines. She creates content that wins customers for B2B eCommerce companies like MyFBAPrep, Shogun, and more. In the past, she has scaled organic acquisition efforts for companies like Deliverr and Skubana.