The Rise of BOPIS & the Impact on Retail Customer Experience
March 12, 2021
The Surge of Buy Online Pick-up In Store (BOPIS)In the past year or so, buy-online, pick-up in store has emerged as a much stronger retail strategy than previously imagined, given the immediate interest in safe, fast, and convenient shopping that arrived with the onset of COVID-19. In an instant, what was previously a nice-to-have became a mechanism for many stores’ survival.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, convenient shopping options were already on the rise. Consumer use of BOPIS had already increased more than four times since 2014, according to a global IBM Institute for Business Value survey, in association with the National Retail Federation. Other recent research from The National Retail Federation found that 83% of consumers find convenience while shopping to be more important to them than it was five years ago and 97% of respondents backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient – wow!
Convenience extends to timeliness and perceived value, too — which makes sense — and BOPIS checks both those boxes by giving shoppers immediate access items already in stock and allowing them to pick them up, avoiding shipping costs. In a recent Fisher study, 90% of online shoppers surveyed reported that high shipping costs and inconsistent delivery commitments would prevent them from completing a purchase online. Considering the delays in shipping during the early parts of the pandemic, BOPIS shined as a convenient alternative to direct ecommerce.
Unsurprisingly, BOPIS searches surged across many retail categories during the pandemic. As expected, categories that contained necessities saw the largest growth. Retailers can use this data and their experience with BOPIS to evaluate their business models and position themselves strategically for the future.
The Customer ExperienceBOPIS has the ability to provide customers an almost VIP-like experience, with dedicated parking spots, skip-the-line signage, text reminders and more. The average shopping experience in-store doesn’t typically include these advantages that are more akin to personalized shopping usually reserved for high-end stores. Consumers are likely to feel more appreciated and better served with shopping experiences like these, potentially increasing the likelihood for repeat shoppers. When done correctly, these new digital/in-person hybrid shopping experiences have the opportunity to elevate your brand experience for customers.
Future OutlookWhile no one can predict the future (especially given the craziness of 2020 and 2021!), the popularity of BOPIS is a sign that expanded shopping options have landed. While BOPIS will not be the entirety of future in-person shopping, it’s certainly a needed complement to any retail shopping experience. In addition to safety and convenience, this option in particular taps into Americans’ desire to drive to a store and do things the old-fashioned way, a pull that can be just as strong as, or even stronger than, the convenience of home delivery. It may also contribute to the retention of some jobs and help physical stores maintain relevance — both things we want to protect.
Shopping as entertainment or an experience will eventually resume and customers will again feel comfortable or desire traditional in-store shopping experiences that allow for product trial and a more social experience.
As supply chains evolve, flexibility is a major factor in determining which businesses survive and which ones crumble. Blending physical and digital experiences is critical to the long-term success of historically in-store businesses, but personalization and ultra-convenience go a long way in adding value, too. I, for one, want every retailer I shop with to offer multiple digital and in-person experiences to fit my lifestyle at any given time.
Jennifer "JJ" SchaidlerJennifer “JJ” Schaidler heads Distribution for the mobility division of Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services. She brings an extensive background in retail merchandising, sales and marketing with specialized knowledge in the consumer electronics, mobile and entertainment industries. JJ is known for being able to deconstruct and find solutions for complex business problems, create strategies to capitalize on market opportunities and drive bottom-line results.
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Jennifer "JJ" Schaidler 2021-03-12