In a day and age when customers expect fast and free shipping, an omni channel fulfillment strategy is essential.
Instead of leveraging a single fulfillment channel like a centralized warehouse, an omnichannel method utilizes multiple channels, including warehouses, distribution centers, drop shipping, and the physical store.
That last channel—the physical store—has become an increasingly essential part of connecting shoppers offline and online experiences. By offering a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) option, retailers can enable customers to get their items faster while also driving in-store foot traffic.
But what is BOPIS exactly?
This guide will explain how it works and discuss its potential benefits for retailers and customers.
What Is Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store?
At a fundamental level, the BOPIS option is a fairly straightforward concept. The customer purchases an item online and then goes to the store to pick it up, rather than waiting for it to ship to them. Typically, the item is made available for pickup at one of several locations, including:
- Customer service counter
- BOPIS pickup area
- Curbside pickup
- Retail lockers
This may seem like an obvious retail feature, but the BOPIS option was not common in the pre-COVID days. According to a Digital Commerce eCommerce Fulfillment report, prior to 2019, just 6.9% of the Top 500 retailers offered in-store and curbside pickup. Today, that number sits at 43.7% and is still rising.
How Does the BOPIS Process Work?
BOPIS typically follows a three-step process:
- Customer orders online – A customer uses the retailer’s online store or mobile app to shop and place an online order. The online portal then provides an option for customers to have their item shipped or to pick it up themselves. If they choose the BOPIS option, they then select the store and pick-up time.
- Store fulfills the order – What happens next depends on whether the store currently has the item in stock. If the item is in the store, a retail associate will pick and pack the order, then notify the customer that it’s being held for pickup. If the store doesn’t have the item in stock, an associate needs to order it from a nearby local store or warehouse. After it arrives, the customer will be notified that the item is ready for pickup.
- The customer picks up the order – The customer either goes inside the store or waits at the curb for the BOPIS order to be brought out to them by an associate.
Benefits of BOPIS for Customers and Retailers
The BOPIS trend is a mutually-beneficial policy for both consumers and businesses, which is why, even in a post-pandemic world, nearly 6 in 10 customers report that they intend to keep using this model. These benefits include:
Advantages for Retailers
- Drives in-store traffic – With a BOPIS offering, you incentivize customers to physically enter the premises, which is a significant concern for brick-and-mortar stores. This allows you to create a unique in-store brand experience and upselling opportunities by incentivizing customers to browse the store inventory and make additional purchases.
- Demonstrates you value customer safety – Especially during COVID, safe delivery enabled retailers to ensure that customers could receive the goods they required without potentially exposing themselves to unwanted physical interactions. Even now, immunocompromised customers value the ability to pick up their goods at the curb rather than going into the physical store.
- Contributes to a personalized shopping experience – Retailers can leverage customer data and shopping behavior to create a personalized experience that caters to each customer’s needs and preferences.
- Optimized inventory management – A BOPIS model fundamentally shifts how retailers think about and utilize their inventory. It merges what used to be two siloed fulfillment inventory systems—one for stores and one for delivery— into one centralized system.
- Faster order fulfillment – If an item is in-store, customers can quickly get their items rather than wait for home delivery. This is especially convenient for household items they need now, not tomorrow.
- Personalized shopping experience – BOPIS grants customers greater flexibility and control over their shopping experience. They’re empowered to decide when, where, and how they’ll receive their items.
- A safe shopping experience – As mentioned, one of the initial drivers behind BOPIS adoption was to protect customers during COVID. This option ensures that they dictate the level of exposure they’re comfortable with.
- Secure order pickup – The convenience of BOPIS is that customers can be confident that their online order is in-stock and available when they go to the store. They don’t need to worry about the item being sold out or a package being stolen from their door.
Optimizing Your Omnichannel BOPIS Experience with Shipware
Today, BOPIS is no longer a nice-to-have feature. It’s becoming a must-have option for retailers. But if brands seek to offer this omnichannel service, they’ll likely need to partner with a 3PL operations provider to ensure on-site inventory remains filled.
That’s where Shipware can assist. We can help you negotiate your 3PL contracts to get the best terms possible. Our team of expert 3PL consultants can leverage your shipping data to optimize your activities and reduce your parcel and LTL shipping costs.
If you want to see how Shipware has helped hundreds of businesses to reduce shipping costs and spend efficiently, book your demo today.
- Retail Dive. Survey: 62% Of Shoppers Expect Their Free Shipping Orders To Arrive In 3 Business Days. https://www.retaildive.com/press-release/20220725-survey-62-of-shoppers-expect-their-free-shipping-orders-to-arrive-in-3-bu/
- Digital Commerce 360. Nearly 44% Of Top 500 Retailers With Stores Now Offer Curbside Pickup. https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/09/30/nearly-44-of-top-500-retailers-with-stores-now-offer-curbside-pickup/
- McKinsey. Perspectives On Retail and Consumer Goods. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Retail/Our%20Insights/Perspectives%20on%20retail%20and%20consumer%20goods%20Number%208/Perspectives-on-Retail-and-Consumer-Goods_Issue-8.pdf