Buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) was an optional feature offered by retailers before the covid19 pandemic. Fast forward to 2021, BOPIS has basically become one of the most important retail services for survival.
Accenture’s latest report showed that 65 percent of retail brands currently offer curbside or BOPIS options. This accelerated adoption of BOPIS and curbside pickup is not surprising –the pandemic has forced consumers to modify their shopping habits and compelled retailers to adapt to those new demands. Unsurprisingly, the number of retailers who plan to get on board is expected to grow to 90 percent in 2021.
In the past, buyers could easily walk into any store of their choice and spend time browsing the available items. It used to be the common ritual – something people actually looked forward to doing. So many retailers didn’t focus on BOPIS or curbside pickup options.
These days, buyers want to get their items quickly and get out as fast as possible. In fact, they want to do it in a contactless manner. The goal for the average buyer is to:
Shop conveniently while ensuring as little contact with another person or surface as possible.
While this trend was jump started by COVID, its continued adopted is fueled by the convenience it created for customers. Therefore, retail brands that want to improve on their customer experience (CX), will have to cater to the following:
- Provide easy avenues to get the customers items to them very quickly – ideally within a few hours
- Improve the ease of checkout if you want customers in-store
- Improve virtual customer support
- Ensure that online and real-time data are in sync
The combination of eCommerce, online stores, and shopping apps has made this incredibly easy.
While many retailers have implemented BOPIS and curbside pickup, some of these brands struggle with a seamless order fulfillment process that makes it easy for the customer to pick up their items fairly quickly.
This is because most BOPIS and curbside strategies were rolled out rapidly instead of strategically. A 2020 Ipsos study showed that both Walmart and Sam’s Club offered the best BOPIS and curbside pickup experience.
It’s important to figure out why some retail stores like Walmart are great at BOPIS and why others are poor performers. Far too many customers have been let down by retail stores who promise a seamless pickup in-store process but do not deliver on that promise.
Unfortunately, it takes only one unsatisfied customer to tell 7 people on Nextdoor, Yelp, Google Review, or anywhere else about their bad experience and word starts spreading.
That’s bad for your business.
So, how can you create a smooth BOPIS process that’ll improve your customers’ shopping convenience and leave them satisfied after buying from you? We’ll show you proven frictionless strategies that’ll improve your order fulfillment efficiency, create an awesome shopping experience for your customers, and leave rival retail brands envious.
But first, let’s breakdown the key components of a successful BOPIS system. This is important because it will provide you with a clear idea of what your omnichannel goals should look like.
An efficient BOPIS system has three components:
- The buying process online
- How long it takes for the retailer to send notifications
- The pickup process
Looks simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet, some retail brands aren’t matching customer expectations. Here’s how you can improve your BOPIS offerings starting today.
1 | Clearly Market Your BOPIS Options
Most shoppers expect to see BOPIS on every retail store’s website or app. In fact, 50 percent of shoppers say they’ll only buy from a retailer when there’s a BOPIS option.
More interestingly, 85 percent of these shoppers are likely to pick up more items in-store while waiting to collect their orders. This provides retailers with excellent cross-selling opportunities that further drive revenue.
Therefore, if prospective buyers can’t see that you have an in-store pickup or curbside delivery option available, these buyers will likely exit your online store and go in search of another that does provide the option.
This is why you have to display your “Pickup and/or Curbside Delivery” option anywhere a potential buyer might see or look for it. This applies to your website, shopping app, as well as your physical store. When people see your brand, there should be no doubt that you offer curbside or in-store pick-up options.
Put up bold displays at every touchpoint in the customer’s journey. For your website and app, the customer should be able to spot your pickup options within 2 seconds. Target and Walmart do this very well.
Here’s a picture of Target’s home page:
And, here’s Walmart’s home page:
Their pickup and delivery options are immediately noticeable when you visit their sites. They also have these options visible on the product level. You should replicate this on your website and apps. Retail outlets that cannot offer BOPIS or curbside pickup for all items can simply apply the BOPIS or curbside pickup option to specific products.
Also, when customers come to your pickup locations, make sure that there is clear signage pointing them to where they need to go and where to park. Shoppers do not like unclear pickup instructions or waiting in line in-store. So, a smart approach would be to include the following in the post-purchase communication:
- When to pick up the order
- Where to pick up the order
- What to do when you get to the pickup location
2 | Integrate Real-Time Inventory with Online Stock Availability
While 64 percent of consumers who seek BOPIS options do so to avoid high shipping fees, many choose the option because of the fast or near-instant access to the items they’ve purchased. So when the customer cannot get their items delivered within a few hours, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Nothing disappoints a customer like seeing that a product they’ve desired for a long time is available and can be picked up in-store, only to click the order button and get the message that the product is either out of stock or can’t actually be picked up in-store.
This damages the customer experience and is likely to put them off your retail brand. This is why the product units on a retail store’s website have to match what’s available in the warehouse inventory.
With the help of a omnichannel integration platform that syncs data instantly, the front-end data will match the backend store inventory in real-time. Many retailers often have a lag issue, due to slower data reconciliation process caused by paper-based order picking and packing processes –a process that costs about $30 billion annually.
How can a retailer solve this problem? By deploying a highly efficient augmented reality (AR) based order picking and packing solution. An AR-based picking system will help communicate the data to the database, and update the information on your website instantly.
To help you understand the idea, imagine a scenario like this:
An order picker in the warehouse gets an alert to pick an item. With her AR-glasses, she instantly identifies the item’s location, goes straight to the location to pick up the item. As soon as she does, the AR notifies the inventory database that there’s one less unit, and that information is almost instantly updated on the website so the potential buyer can see how many units are available in real-time.
That’s the beauty of AR-based tech like Ox and why this tech will completely transform every retailer’s efficiency.
3 | Train Employees and Encourage System-Wide Adoption
Smooth-running BOPIS operations can provide that elusive omnichannel excellence that many retailers seek. A crucial part of the equation that’ll help everything work efficiently is the retail store’s staff. In fact, a survey has shown that 22.4% of retailers struggle with BOPIS because of the poor management of employees and training.
22.4% of retailers struggle with BOPIS because of the poor management of employees and training.
A retailer’s BOPIS and curbside delivery offerings will flop if their employees and staff are not adequately trained to handle the new technology. AR-based heads-up solutions can help increase employee speed and accuracy plus decrease training time significantly.
Retail brands might also want to implement reward systems or incentives that encourage faster order fulfillment and curbside delivery among store managers and employees. The incentives are particularly necessary if BOPIS orders are cannibalizing traditional store orders and eating into the store managers’ sales.
Proper incentives plus adequate training will encourage staff to work hard at fulfilling BOPIS orders quicker.
Some components of an excellent in-store employee workflow include:
- Fast order picking –this is faster with AR-based order picking tech like Ox
- Checking in customers at the store
- Fast customer identity verification
- Looking up order information
- Setting up reliable customer service dedicated to BOPIS orders
4 | Integrate Retail Order Management & Point-of-Sale Systems
A combination of these two technologies will provide a truly unique omnichannel experience for the customer. Retail order management systems provide real-time updates on orders and inventory, visibility lowers cost by improving order accuracy and ensures improved inventory oversight.
Point-of-sale (PoS) systems, on the other hand, are great for contactless payments which improve customer confidence and safety and are fast. They are more efficient than cash registers and minimizes the amount of time that customers have to spend waiting.
Customers who select the BOPIS or curbside delivery options typically don’t want to wait for a long time. In fact, estimates show that customer satisfaction drops exponentially for every hour after the customer arrives at the store. Upon the customer’s arrival, retailers like Nordstrom and Best Buy are doing a great job of getting customers their orders in 30 minutes or less.
5 | Build a Seamless Online and In-Store Experience for Buyers
Build out easy-to-use apps with in-app promotions, push notification features, and real-time buyer intent data. For example, Nordstrom’s website shows how many people are browsing and viewing the same page as an intended buyer. This helps the buyer determine if the product they want to order is a hot item.
Brands can also incorporate buyer loyalty programs to drive sales and grow revenues. Nordstrom does this well as seen in the transformation of their physical stores into curbside pickup sites, as well as optimizing these stores for in-store purchases.
Credit: COURTESY OF NORDSTROM
Nordstrom has taken the experience to another level by actually incentivizing customers to pick up their items.
CREDIT: COURTESY OF NORDSTROM
Retailers have found a balance between its buyer-centric strategies and retail stores that have been optimized for click-and-collect programs. This has led to a more efficient eCommerce-retail store operation with collection points at counters located right in front of each store and a robust in-store inventory for those who still prefer to browse physically.
In addition to using their stores as fulfillment centers, those stores are also equipped with changing rooms where buyers can test the products they ordered and decide if the items are the right fit. This has drastically lowered the rate of returns and increased conversion rates by as much as 60 percent.
Retailers who want to replicate these results can do the following:
- Set up a section for the customer to check their items while at the curbside or in-store
- Provide clear directions to the pickup location
- Use augmented reality to produce the necessary guided imagery –great for fashion and apparel retailers
- Ensure a smooth buyer identification process
- Deploy contactless payment solutions
- Train store employees to expedite curbside deliveries –prevents customers from waiting too long and getting angry
- Implement in-app purchase technology if customers are allowed to reserve items and pay in-store
6 | Provide Premium Retail Customer Experience
To provide your customers with the best customer experience, a retailer has to first define what that premium customer experience will be. For most buyers, a premium customer experience would include most or all of the following:
- The ability to shop online and pay nothing for shipping
- Access to rebates, discounts, and loyalty perks
- A 100 percent safe in-store environment
- A smooth-running and seamless click-to-collect process
- An instant or fast buyer verification process
- Less than 10-minute wait time for curbside or in-store pickup
- Fast and easy returns when necessary
One retailer providing a premium retail customer experience is Best Buy. Best Buy’s BOPIS and curbside solution is seamless, clear, and customer experience-focussed. They outline exactly what the customer can expect during their BOPIS pickup, and even allows customers to check in midroute so the associates can prepare their order before they even arrive. Best Buy also provides extended pick up hours after the physical store is closed to the public.
Of course, every retail brand will have to define what works for them. But this is essential given that every retail brand is jumping on the functional aspect of BOPIS because it’s popular. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to offer BOPIS options to customers just because everyone is doing it.
This is why some customers end up waiting in line for 30 minutes or more –something they intended to avoid by choosing BOPIS and curbside. In summary, customers want a quick in-and-out experience when they choose the BOPIS option on your website or app. They want to find the pickup site easily, avoid waiting in line, get the exact items they paid for, and find the right parking location for curbside deliveries.
Ox Can Transform Your Retail Brand’s BOPIS Experience
At the heart of every successful BOPIS strategy is a system that works. These systems are powered by high-performing augmented reality software platforms like Ox which are optimized to improve efficiency.
Ox can help retail brands implement a customized, agile BOPIS system using machine learning technology and artificial intelligence. With Ox’s augmented reality tech integrated into your retail system, picking efficiency among workers will improve, the customer will enjoy a seamless click-to-collect process, and your retail brand will experience increased sales and revenue growth.
If you want to enjoy faster order fulfillment, fewer order mistakes, increased customer satisfaction, and more revenue, you need Ox.