3 Essential Insights for an Outstanding BOPIS Strategy

by Chris Arey • , ,

No omnichannel retail strategy is complete without a buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) program. BOPIS, sometimes called BOPUS or BOPUIS, allows consumers to purchase a product online and collect their item(s) at a brick-and-mortar store. This method allows the customer to avoid the shipping costs and delivery wait times associated with online shopping.

According to an analysis from Kibo Commerce, BOPIS fulfillment methods experienced over 500% growth at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Bizrate Insights predicts continued BOPIS growth this year, and knowing how consumers feel about the BOPIS experience is necessary for brands to optimize their omnichannel program. To learn more about what shoppers are looking for, we surveyed consumers across the Bizrate Insights network on their BOPIS preferences in January 2020 and again one year later. Read on to learn three key insights and how retailers can use them to optimize their BOPIS strategy.

1. Customers Choose BOPIS Fulfillment for Convenience

BOPIS is cost-effective and allows for a safe shopping experience, but according to survey respondents, the most critical factor is that it’s convenient. BOPIS provides your customers with a hybrid shopping experience by combining the ease of online browsing and the immediate validation associated with retrieving a product in-person.

We asked over 1,000 online shoppers to identify their top reason for choosing BOPIS. Over 50% of respondents chose “convenience.” Another 21% said “health and safety,” and 13% said it was because of “cost.”

The remaining 16% of customers selected “other” as their reason for choosing BOPIS and a common write-in answer was that shoppers want to see the products they’re buying. For example, if you’re buying a candle, you want to make sure you like the smell before you get home. Rather than waiting a week for it to be delivered and driving to the store if you don’t like it, you can use BOPIS to pick up your item, decide whether you want to keep it and if not, immediately return it since you’re already there.

Key Takeaway: Your BOPIS program needs to be accommodating to customers’ unique schedules and needs. Consider offering multiple pickup methods, such as curbside, a retail locker (BOPIL), and in-store, whether at a register or a designated section.

Since customers also choose BOPIS to assess their purchases sooner, your organization should have a fast and efficient handoff process. For example, if your business offers a curbside option, provide clear instructions in the purchase confirmation email so that customers know what to expect before arriving at your store.

Below are three steps you can take to facilitate an efficient curbside fulfillment:

  1. Send pickup instructions to customers through email or text message. Your instructions should include where to park, what steps to take once they arrive, and any receipt code they may need to provide on arrival.
  2. Provide clear signage onsite. The signs around your brick-and-mortar location should direct customers where to park, how to contact the store, and remind them of the instructions you provided via email or text.
  3. Have a dedicated BOPIS team ready to fulfill purchases. Your business should have staff prepared to expedite the handoff process so there isn’t any confusion on who should deliver customer’ products. Designate employees to watch for notifications and calls from customers who arrive at the store for pickup.

To find out if your BOPIS fulfillment options meet shoppers’ expectations, consider implementing a VoC solution to collect real-time feedback.

2. Shoppers Expect Their Items To Be Ready Same Day

Unlike mail delivery, where there is a range for when a product can arrive, customers that opt for BOPIS expect their items to be ready as soon as possible.

We asked shoppers when they expect their items to be ready after choosing BOPIS fulfillment and 85% of respondents say they expect their product to be available the same day of purchase. When broken down, 5% of respondents say immediately, 18% say within one hour, 37% say within a few hours, and 26% say within 24 hours.

Interestingly, we asked the same question in a January 2020 survey, pre-COVID-19, and the results were almost identical. See below for a graphical representation comparing shoppers’ responses for 2021 and 2020.

2020 vs 2021 BOP

Key Takeaway: Customers’ expectations on how quickly their purchase should be ready for pickup haven’t changed because of COVID-19. Optimizing your BOPIS strategy now will pay off years down the road because pandemic aside, most shoppers using BOPIS expect their items to be ready the same day they buy.

Since over 25% of respondents said they were displeased or had a neutral opinion on their most recent BOPIS encounter, retailers have room to improve.

To optimize your BOPIS strategy, focus on inventory management, streamlining the pickup experience, promoting your pickup options, and making the fulfillment option easily accessible.

Retailers should also note that a successful BOPIS program has significant economic benefits for your company. BOPIS is an incredibly powerful tool that can help you drive foot traffic and increase upsell opportunities at your brick-and-mortar locations. In our January 2020 survey, 61% of shoppers told us that they made an additional, unplanned purchase when they arrived at the store to pick up their order.

This insight makes often-overlooked elements like the BOPIS pickup location incredibly important. If it’s too close to the store entrance, retailers miss the opportunity to upsell. Too far, and they risk causing frustration for customers, who typically want the pickup to take as little time as possible.

Related Case Study: How Boscov’s BOPIS evolved their BOPIS strategy using VoC feedback.

3. BOPIS Is Not Going Away

Our BOPIS Fulfillment Preferences survey asked respondents if they planned on discontinuing buy online, pickup in-store shopping options post-COVID-19. Here’s how they responded:

  1. Yes, I am only doing it now because of COVID-19 (11%)
  2. No, I will continue to use BOPIS options post-COVID-19 (57%)
  3. I’m not sure (32%)

The survey also asked how often consumers opted for a buy online, pickup in-store option over the last few months. Less than a quarter of respondents never opted for BOPIS, and 76% had varying degrees of usage.

They responded:

  1. Never (24%)
  2. Sometimes (40%)
  3. At least once a week (10%)
  4. Whenever possible (26%)

Key Takeaway: BOPIS fulfillment increased in popularity because of COVID-19, but our survey data demonstrates customers will continue to use the program after the pandemic ends.

You should assess your current buy online, pickup in-store strategy to see where you can improve the program to give customers a more personalized experience. Our guide, Data-Driven Tips to Create a Winning BOPIS Program, can help your business identify the features and events that impact the BOPIS experience, the type of purchase most likely to result in a pickup experience, and customer preferences about curbside and in-store pickup.

A successful BOPIS program can also help your business reduce shipping costs and establish in-person connections with your consumers. A report by the Harvard Business Review says fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average.

Optimize Your BOPIS Strategy

BOPIS fulfillment methods are an essential component of an effective omnichannel strategy. Whether it be because it’s convenient, fast, or allows for an in-person element to online shopping, customers are going to continue to opt for BOPIS for years to come. We recommend focusing on your BOPIS strategy this year to ensure your fulfillment options meet customers’ expectations. Remember to offer multiple pickup methods, prepare to provide purchases to customers the same day they buy, and provide clear instructions on how customers should go about getting their items.

A successful BOPIS strategy provides a stellar customer experience and has economic benefits for your business. By optimizing your BOPIS strategy now, you’re investing for the future. Start focusing on your BOPIS strategy today.

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