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Everything You Need to Know About “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store

June 16, 2022
Hybrid in-store/online businesses—from big box stores to local mom-and-pop shops—have begun increasingly offering customers the opportunity to “buy online, pickup in-store” (BOPIS). Retailers can leverage this unique fulfillment strategy to increase profits, boost customer satisfaction, and get a leg up on their competition—but how does BOPIS eCommerce work? The following guide describes BOPIS, customer motivations to use the method, benefits for retailers, concerns for BOPIS newcomers, and competition tips for online-only businesses. BOPIS continues to evolve, impacting eCommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses alike—and understanding it is the first step to integrating it into your business model.

What is BOPIS?

BOPIS stands for “buy online, pickup in-store.” Curbside pickup or “click and collect” (a phrase more commonly used in its infancy) are synonymous, but the former describes a specific BOPIS strategy.

For a customer, a BOPIS purchase typically proceeds as follows:

  1. The customer purchases an item on a company’s website as usual—but instead of having the product shipped to their home, they choose BOPIS. Some retailers offer customers the option to pay online or pay when they pick up the item.
  2. The store alerts the customer when their order is ready for pickup—depending on the store’s inventory, the item could be ready in just a few hours.
  3. The customer travels to the store, picks up the item, and proceeds to the next stop they have planned.

Types of BOPIS Pickups

While it can take a variety of forms, retailers typically employ one of two BOPIS methods when a customer arrives to pick up their item:

  • Contactless or low-contact delivery (curbside pickup) via numbered parking spaces, combination lockers, or another method
  • Face-to-face pickup inside the store at a specific location (like a dedicated counter or register)

BOPIS innovations continue, giving retailers and customers increased opportunities to customize their sales and shopping experiences.

The BOPIS Backstory

BOPIS isn’t quite a new development—as early as 2018, 86% of retailers agreed that BOPIS would soon become a default delivery method, beating out both in-store and traditional online shopping. However, the recent pandemic saw adoption surge, and it’s expected to remain a top customer preference.

BOPIS has roots in holiday shopping convenience, and between November 1st and December 6th, 2018, curbside pickup skyrocketed in use—46% more than in the previous month. Why?

  • BOPIS fulfillment helped customers bypass the typical holiday season shipping delays
  • Customers shopped without battling holiday crowds, going right to pickup counters
  • Shoppers picked up their orders at their convenience anytime after they were ready

Even if customers didn’t make a BOPIS purchase, they used related technologies (particularly inventory information) to fine-tune their shopping list based on which products were available in-store. BOPIS capabilities and ERP integrations with your Adobe Commerce / Magento site let customers find out which brick-and-mortar location they should go to based on current inventory.

Last-Mile Fulfillment: A Critical Puzzle Piece for Online Retailers

BOPIS orders disrupt a significant element of online-only commerce—last-mile fulfillment. Last-mile fulfillment describes the last leg of a product’s journey before reaching the customer’s doorstep.

For traditional online orders, fulfillment can require two or more phases:

  • Item transport from a distribution center to a third-party logistics provider
  • The logistics provider’s journey from the drop point to the customer’s home

This second phase is last-mile fulfillment, and while it may seem like only a small part of the shipping process, it accounts for approximately 53% of companies’ total shipping costs.

BOPIS provides retailers with an alternative to these high costs by putting the power of last-mile fulfillment in the customer’s hands—the client pays for their own transport to the store and spends their own time picking up the item.

Why Do Customers Choose BOPIS?

When they choose BOPIS at checkout, customers assume last-mile fulfillment duties—even though this requires more work on their part than standard delivery, why do they still choose the method?

COVID-19 safety – When COVID-19 initially spread around the globe, many customers transitioned from in-store shopping to BOPIS for routine purchases—like buying groceries and pharmacy items—to prevent face-to-face contact and reduce their infection risk.

Reduced shipping cost – Many online retailers charge shipping (barring subscription-style retailers like Amazon and Walmart), and customers who consider shipping costs an unnecessary expense can—at least in theory—save money by picking up their order themselves.

Same-day pickup – Buy online, pickup in-store same-day provides the instant gratification customers love. Instead of waiting a few business days for doorstep delivery, they can opt for BOPIS and receive their order (in many cases) within a few hours.

Convenience – While it might sound counterintuitive, many customers find BOPIS more convenient. They can save time by skipping in-store browsing and reviewing product availability from the comfort of home.

Customers don’t always use BOPIS but often find it a desirable fulfillment option in the right circumstances.

Benefits of BOPIS for Retailers

While BOPIS offers benefits to customers, how does it impact retailers? Aside from providing improved choices and order flexibility as a competitive advantage, let’s explore BOPIS’s potential to improve retailers’ profits, efficiency, and more.

Increase Profits

Order fulfillment costs money—both transport from a distribution center and last-mile fulfillment with a third-party shipper are costly for retailers.

So, when customers bypass shipping, opting to pick up an item in-stock nearby, they eliminate a company’s shipping costs, increasing their margin-per-order.

In addition, companies can use the increased brand exposure—the time customers spend picking up an order in-store—to upsell additional products. Customers who choose BOPIS over conventional shipping are subject to more brand exposure—perhaps not more than in-store shoppers, but certainly more than online-only options.

Customers could add a product to their order because:

  • They forgot to include something in their pickup order
  • They saw an appealing display
  • Their shopping companions are drawn to items visible from the pickup area

BOPIS saves companies money and increases the likelihood of additional sales.

Reduced Shipping Complications and Reliance

Online retailers rely heavily upon third-party shipping companies—like the USPS, UPS, and FedEx—to complete last-mile fulfillment.

UPS and FedEx routinely increase their prices (a 5.9% increase in 2022), and it’s not uncommon for digital storefronts to take a loss on shipping, making third-party logistics progressively more expensive over time. Aside from the cost, these providers also increase the potential for complications in two ways:

  1. Third-party shippers—especially during the holidays—often encounter delays, which can impact customer satisfaction and, in some cases, companies’ bottom line.
  2. Logistics companies often set volume limits for large retailers, which can slow down their fulfillment timelines.

The longer the fulfillment chain, the greater the potential for weak links—for every airplane, semi-truck, or delivery van you add to the equation, the more opportunities for complications arise.

Leveraged Store Inventory

Brick-and-mortar store inventories are a critical piece of the BOPIS puzzle—BOPIS fulfillment is most effective when the item the customer ordered is in stock at their chosen pickup store.

Retailers can leverage their store inventory to:

  • Speed up the fulfillment process
  • Decrease fulfillment costs
  • Optimize their existing facility space

By supplying a company’s online retail arm with products stored at brick-and-mortar stores, companies can decrease their need for facility space—particularly distribution centers—and use their existing real estate for multiple purposes.

Wallington Plumbing & Supply—BOPIS Shopping Implemented by DotcomWeavers

For a parts retailer operating multiple store locations like Wallington Plumbing & Heating Supply, the BOPIS options and ERP integrations DoctomWeavers implemented were a major driver of their 500% surge in revenue.

It’s a win-win for stores and customers alike.

Wallington Plumbing doesn’t have to place as high of a priority on ensuring minimum inventory at each location—reducing available financial and spatial resources—and customers know precisely what is in stock and at which locations. The Adobe Commerce / Magento BOPIS capability DotcomWeavers implemented and configured has been a significant advantage for them.

Walmart Marketplace Integration with Adobe Commerce / Magento

In the summer of 2021, Adobe and Walmart announced a new partnership that provided Commerce / Magento sites with access to the mega-chain’s fulfillment technologies, including BOPIS capabilities for physical stores and syndicated listing on Walmart Marketplace.

Now available for integration, the omnichannel technologies behind Walmart pickup orders and Marketplace enable other eCommerce retailers to:

  • Display current in-store pickup availability and estimated fulfillment times
  • Support both curbside and in-store pickup
  • Equip employees with the ability to optimize BOPIS through:
  • Pick path
  • Multi-order pickups
  • Order and item validation or substitutions
  • Provide value-add communication for customers, such as:
  • Order updates
  • Check-in and detection to announce their arrival
  • List their products on Walmart Marketplace, expanding omnichannel functionality:
  • Additional visibility and conversion opportunities
  • Walmart Fulfillment's two-day shipping

You can now leverage the technology behind Walmart pickup orders for yourself. Expanding into these two avenues—Walmart in-store pickup and their Marketplace—will help you boost visibility and conversions.

Reach out to us to begin integrating these Walmart BOPIS and Marketplace capabilities with your eCommerce site.

Concerns for Brands New to BOPIS Fulfillment

If your brand hasn’t integrated BOPIS yet, you’ll need to incorporate each of the following considerations into your plan:

In-store employee training – As you increase your brick-and-mortar stores’ task load, you’ll have to train in-store employees to complete BOPIS-related tasks. Create new procedures, back-end integrations, and organizational hierarchies to accommodate in-store operations.

eCommerce platform adjustments – Is your eCommerce platform equipped to process BOPIS orders, interact with your inventory software, and facilitate order status alerts?  Retailers will need to support additional functionalities when they incorporate in-store pickup for online orders.

Brand facetime optimization – To optimize customers’ time spent picking up their items, carefully plan your brand exposure in BOPIS buyers’ high-traffic areas. Plan your signage, display placement and contents, traffic flow, and employee interfacing points.

Most importantly, put yourself in your customers’ shoes—envision their shopping and pickup experience, and create customized solutions tailored to their satisfaction.

What Can Online-Only Retailers Do to Compete with BOPIS eCommerce?

Reading about hybrid companies’ BOPIS advantages might sound intimidating if you’re an online-only retailer. To maintain your competitive advantage, consider the following tactics for online-only retail in the BOPIS age:

Create BOPIS-like infrastructure – Even if you don’t currently (or plan to) have brick-and-mortar stores, consider creating remote pickup points for BOPIS customers. Large retailers might consider combination locker banks, while small retailers could achieve this by partnering with local brick-and-mortar brands.

Explore new third-party shipment options – As shipping prices continue rising, investigate your logistics options to secure better prices and decrease shipment timelines. Consider drawing inspiration from quick-commerce companies like Instacart.

Optimize your eCommerce infrastructure – BOPIS companies are leveraging decreased costs and increased customer convenience—how are you leveraging your greatest tool (your eCommerce platform) to stay competitive? Increase your online store’s functionality, accessibility, and performance to become (or remain) your customers’ online retailer of choice.

DotcomWeavers: Simplify, Enhance, and Grow Your Online Retail

The benefits of BOPIS impact both customers and retailers—the potentials for decreased shipping costs and increased convenience are hard to beat. So, hybrid stores operating physical locations and eCommerce sites should absolutely jump on the BOPIS bandwagon.

But online-only retailers can still leverage their platform to remain a major player in eCommerce.

For fully customized, expertly built eCommerce sites, look no further than DotcomWeavers. We utilize Adobe Commerce / Magneto to craft highly functional platforms for online retailers who are constantly looking over the horizon—innovation, customization, and expertise drive our entire mission.

Your business is ready to grow, and a stunning eCommerce platform is your ticket to the top.

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