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What Is BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and 5 Steps to Use It for Your Ecommerce Store

In the rapidly evolving world of ecommerce, businesses are continuously exploring innovative strategies to keep pace with changing consumer behaviors and preferences. One such strategy that has garnered significant attention is BOPIS—Buy Online, Pick Up in Store.

BOPIS is a retail strategy where customers purchase products online and then pick them up in a physical store (or parcel locker if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location).

This approach cleverly bridges the gap between online convenience and the immediacy of physical retail, offering a unique blend of flexibility and instant gratification that modern consumers crave.

As customer expectations evolve, understanding and effectively implementing BOPIS can prove instrumental in maintaining your competitive edge in the bustling ecommerce landscape.

Understanding BOPIS

The rise of BOPIS did not occur overnight—it’s the result of a gradual evolution driven by rapid technological advancements and changing consumer behaviors.

The beginnings trace back to the early days of ecommerce when retailers began to realize the potential of integrating online and in-store shopping experiences. The surge of smartphones and increased internet accessibility further fueled its growth.

BOPIS is no longer a novelty but a standard practice for many businesses, with an increasing number of customers adopting this method due to its blend of online convenience and in-store immediacy. A variation of this practice—BOPAC (Buy Online, Pick-up At Curb)—offers the same convenience without requiring customers to step into the store.

A successful implementation strategy consists of three key components:

  1. A platform that facilitates easy online browsing and purchasing.
  2. An effective inventory management system that ensures product availability at the chosen pickup location.
  3. A seamless and quick in-store pickup process and a hassle-free customer experience.

Understanding customer preferences and behavior is integral to shaping a successful BOPIS strategy. By analyzing purchasing patterns, you can optimize your BOPIS service to better align with customer needs, offering a more personalized and satisfactory shopping experience.

For example, you can encourage impulse behavior by strategically placing items at the pick-up area. Or, you may take a “Reserve Online, Pick Up In Store” (ROPIS) approach where customers opt to reserve items instead of buying straight away. While an outright purchase is ideal, this strategy is perfect for pricier luxury items or bulky items that customers want to check out in person before buying.

Benefits and Challenges of BOPIS

Like any strategic approach in the business world, BOPIS comes with a set of benefits and challenges.

Benefits of BOPIS for Ecommerce Businesses

  • Increased customer convenience and satisfaction: BOPIS offers the best of both worlds—online browsing and in-store pickup—providing customers with a convenient and flexible shopping experience.
  • Security against package theft: As BOPIS allows customers to retrieve their purchases directly from the store, it eliminates the risk of parcels being left unattended and susceptible to theft, a growing concern among online shoppers. This offers an added layer of assurance when purchasing your products.
  • Reduced shipping costs, delivery times, and cart abandonment: With BOPIS, you save on shipping costs, and customers can receive their purchases faster. It also decreases cart abandonment as customers can bypass delivery fees—a common cause of abandonment.
  • Opportunities for upselling and cross-selling: When customers visit the store for pickup, there’s a chance for additional in-store purchases, presenting businesses with valuable upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Challenges and Considerations of Implementing BOPIS

  • Inventory management and synchronization: Improving inventory management to keep online and in-store inventory synchronized is a complex task that requires a robust system and careful management.
  • Staff training and resource allocation: Implementing BOPIS successfully demands well-trained staff and the correct allocation of resources to handle online orders and in-store pickups efficiently.
  • Ensuring a seamless customer experience: From the ease of online ordering to the speed and convenience of in-store pickup, every step of the BOPIS process must be seamless to ensure customer satisfaction.
Person picking up package in store

Image source: Freepik

How to Implement BOPIS Into Your Ecommerce Store

Having delved into the benefits and challenges of BOPIS, let’s explore the steps you can take to implement this strategy effectively.

Step 1: Analyzing Customer Behavior

The foundation of a successful BOPIS strategy is understanding your customer’s preferences and expectations. Know what motivates your customers to choose BOPIS over other shopping methods and identify their pain points.

You can achieve this through data analysis and customer surveys, offering valuable insights into shopping habits and preferences. Identifying the specific customer segments most likely to benefit from BOPIS is also beneficial.

With this understanding, you can tailor your BOPIS service to meet these customers’ specific needs, leading to higher adoption and satisfaction rates.

Step 2: Optimizing Inventory Management

Effective inventory management is a crucial component of a successful BOPIS strategy. It starts with integrating your online and in-store inventory systems to maintain real-time tracking and synchronization.

This integration helps prevent discrepancies between online information and physical stock levels, avoiding customer disappointment and potential loss of sales. Forecasting demand and managing stock levels effectively can ensure that popular items are always available for BOPIS customers.

Advanced data analysis and predictive tools can help in accurate forecasting and efficient stock management.

Step 3: Leveraging Technology for Seamless Operations

The use of technology can greatly streamline BOPIS operations. This involves choosing the right ecommerce platform that supports BOPIS capabilities and allows easy integration with your inventory and fulfillment systems.

An efficient order management system is also essential to handle BOPIS orders effectively, from the moment an order is placed online to when it’s picked up in-store. Consider utilizing mobile apps and notifications to keep customers informed about their order status and pickup details.

Step 4: Streamlining the In-Store Pickup Process

The in-store pickup process is the final and only physical touchpoint in the BOPIS purchasing journey, so it needs to be smooth and efficient.

Design a dedicated BOPIS pickup area in your store that is easily identifiable and accessible to customers. Train your staff to handle BOPIS orders efficiently, ensuring they understand the process and are equipped to provide excellent customer service.

Clear communication is also crucial—provide your customers with detailed instructions about the pickup process, including where to go, what to bring, and whom to contact if they have any issues.

Step 5: Enhancing the Customer Experience

The final step is to, as always, continuously enhance the customer experience.

Offering incentives and promotions can encourage more customers to try and fall in love with your BOPIS service.

Personalized recommendations and offers based on the customer’s online browsing or purchasing history can drive additional in-store purchases during pickup.

Most importantly, gather customer feedback regularly and use it to refine and improve your BOPIS process. Continuous improvement will help you keep up with evolving customer expectations and ensure your BOPIS strategy remains a competitive advantage.

Examples of Successful BOPIS Implementation

#1: Movado Group Inc.

Movado Group Inc. is a renowned watchmaker known for its quality and design. The company operates an online platform and a network of stores, serving a range of customers interested in luxury watches.

Movado wanted to allow customers to order products online and pick them up at their preferred store. The company collaborated with Innovadel Technologies to integrate a BOPIS system into its online platform.

This implementation has proven beneficial, allowing Movado to increase sales through a system that has a collective inventory and enables customers to pick up orders at their preferred locations​​.

#2: Boscov’s

Boscov’s is the oldest family-owned department store in the U.S. The company runs 47 stores in the Mid-Atlantic region and caters to a broad customer base, with a focus on fostering customer loyalty and thoughtful, prudent growth strategies.

In response to customer demand for greater flexibility, Boscov’s rolled out a BOPIS program in 2016. They partnered with Kibo to create a scalable BOPIS platform, integrating Kibo’s Order Management System with their in-house ecommerce solution.

As a result of this implementation, Boscov’s has seen significant success, with every $100 of BOPIS spend resulting in an additional $40 of in-store spend.

Boscov’s undertook an extensive investigation of other retailers’ BOPIS programs, which included a secret shopper project to evaluate their competition’s consumer experiences. This focus on understanding the market before implementation was instrumental in their success.

Merge the Physical and Digital Realms With BOPIS

The Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) model offers a strategic advantage in the evolving ecommerce landscape by bridging the digital and physical aspects of retail. Through its implementation, businesses can meet the growing demand for convenience and flexibility while optimizing operations and enhancing overall customer experience.

BOPIS has been around for a while and is far from a trend. It’s a strategic move that can propel your business in a competitive ecommerce world.