The Evolution of Grocery Retail: Introduction to BOPIS, Curbside, & Delivery

While the competition between retail brands has always been fierce, the global pandemic has upped the ante. The stakes are higher than ever and retailers must learn to adapt or face bankruptcy as many have already done.

Online grocery shopping has become a key part of many of our daily lives due to COVID19. While this is good news for retailers, it comes with its unique challenges – faster shipping being the most prominent. It has become imperative for retailers to get customers their items very quickly.

Even before the pandemic hit, consumers were already getting impatient with any shipping times that exceeded two days. In fact, as much as 90 percent of online buyers tend to abandon their carts if it takes more than 48 hours to ship their items. However, most were still willing to “tough it out” because they weren’t primarily confined to their homes. It turns out, when you’re out and about, you might not remember that you even ordered that new pair of shoes.

Now that the lockdown is in full effect, people are spending more time indoors and customers are demanding shorter wait times between clicking the buy button and picking up or receiving their items.

Thankfully, a new model called BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) has made it easier for some retail brands to keep up with consumers’ ever-increasing demands. Retail brands like Amazon’s Whole Foods are using this fulfillment model to gain a competitive edge over other retail brands, and make their already fast shipping policy, even faster.  

What is BOPIS, Curbside/Outside Yard Pickup, & Trunk/In-car Delivery?

BOPIS is short for Buy Online, Pickup In-Store. Once a consumer makes their purchase online, they can go pick up their order in a designated store or pick-up point nearest them.

When they get to the store, they can either request that their items be brought outside on the curb or dropped off at a designated “outgoing/pickup” area at the pickup point, or have the items placed in their trunk. The former is known as curbside/outside yard pickup and the latter, trunk or in-car delivery. 

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BOPIS has become a must-have strategy for most forward-thinking retailers. The emergence of the technology has further widened the gap between retailers who were already struggling and those who have fully integrated this technology into their supply chain. With BOPIS technology being integrated into everything from inventory management to order fulfillment, shoppers are enjoying a more seamless shopping experience.

BOPIS Improves Customer Loyalty

While not a COVID19 invention, BOPIS is a big reason many people started shopping online to begin with.

They can simply peruse the offerings provided by the retailer online, place their orders, wait to be notified that their order is ready for pickup, and then go get their order from the pickup location. It’s that simple - and fast.   

Over 70% of buyers have purchased from a retailer simply because they had the BOPIS option.

This increased buyer frequency and order volume has increased the bottom lines of many retail brands. Some are seeing revenue go through the roof because of BOPIS as more buyers choose their stores over other retail brands where BOPIS was not an option. In fact, it is estimated that over 70% of buyers have purchased items from a retailer simply because they had the BOPIS option.

Forward-thinking retail brands like Target are taking advantage of this and adding more products to their BOPIS offerings.

BOPIS Minimizes Shopper Exposure to Covid19

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline has shown that being within 6-feet COVD19 carrier for 15 minutes, increases your risk of infection, even if you’re wearing a proper mask.

A new study shows that if one infected person is unmasked in an enclosed space like a store, the odds of getting infected goes way up, even if others are wearing a mask. As we’ve seen in many retail stores, some people just don’t wear a mask properly – if at all.

BOPIS drastically lowers the risk of infection as buyers do not have to be in an enclosed space that they don’t control for longer than 10 minutes. In fact, with in-car/trunk delivery options, there’s little or no risk of infection.

This adds to a buyer’s trust and loyalty to the retail brand and translates into repeat shopping experiences.

BOPIS Offers Convenience as Pickups aren’t Limited to Storefronts

Some retailers have created designated pickup points in certain areas or locations to get closer to the consumers. This completely eliminates the need to drive long distances or fight traffic to pick up purchased items.

BOPIS and BORIS (buy online, return in store) are even making returns easier. In the past, return requests took anywhere from one week to months. But now, customers have more options than returning to the store or mailing their items back in.

Now, you can simply request to return the product and have it replaced, exchanged, or request a refund. Some retailers have even been experimenting with letting you keep the item for free - rather than dealing with return shipping and processing. 

Should Retail Stores Integrate BOPIS, Curbside Pick Up, and In-Trunk Delivery Into Their Business?

Short answer: Yes, if they want to remain competitive.

Because of the pandemic, fewer people are participating in in-store/in-person shopping. And the experts say that once this habit has been ingrained in the average shopper, buying online and picking up in-store will become the new normal.

Smart grocery retail brands would benefit from adopting this new tech as a survival strategy and work on streamlining the process such that it becomes even easier for buyers to purchase from them over competitors.

Need help with your BOPIS strategy? We can help you increase efficiency, reduce  mistakes, and create return customers. Book a demo today.

BOPIS ChecklistOf course,

this is no easy feat as introducing new technology to an existing framework system can be disruptive. Before implementing such a strategy, many retail brands must first consider potential software integrations, hardware and software expenses, hiring needs, and many other logistical kinks.

However, these challenges are nothing compared to the prospect of filing for bankruptcy and closing hundreds of outlets like we’ve seen in the last few months. Retailers need to start thinking of BOPIS as a long-term strategy for staying in business and keeping the doors open.

Is BOPIS, Curbside Pickups, and Delivery the New Normal for Shoppers?

Covid19 is probably going to change our buying habits for the foreseeable future. Why? Because new models like BOPIS have made online grocery shopping very convenient.

If the rapidly mutating nature of the SARS Cov-2 virus and our global lack of preparedness has proven one thing, it’s that there will always be the threat of future pandemics. In fact, there’s the looming threat of “superbugs” that can’t be cured by even the strongest antibiotics in existence.

People might just decide that the risk and stress of shopping in-store isn’t worth it. This could shape shopping behavior in the future. In fact, as we speak, new shopping habits are being formed, causing behavioral changes in shoppers.

That, plus the convenience and speed of buying and receiving their items means that shoppers may be less open to “going back to the dark ages” when they had to walk 10 minutes from the back of a 45,000 square foot store to the middle/front section.

BOPIS eliminates all these problems. This is why all forward-thinking grocery retail brands have to adopt this model. The long term upsides far outweigh the short-term challenges.

Final Thoughts

In the past, retailers could afford to pick and choose their marketing and operational channels, but not anymore. Grocery retail brands that want to weather this storm and emerge stronger will have to adopt an agile omnichannel operational strategy that includes BOPIS. In fact, we dare say that BOPIS will be integral to their survival. So, building their framework around this new technology is not only smart - it’s critical.

How you choose to integrate the tech is left to you. But AI-powered machine learning technologies like Ox can make the process incredibly easy. With our hands-free Augmented Reality (AR) technology, Ox makes it easy for grocery retail brands to manage inventory, locate groceries, and fulfill orders faster, all while saving costs.

Retailers save over 40% in their operating costs from just integrating Ox with their BOPIS system. And because it’s an AR, hands-free tool, sales associates can onboard faster while minimizing exposure to contaminated surfaces.

Online grocery sales are expected to be at almost $60 billion by 2023.

Online grocery shopping is at an all-time high – 22 percent of consumers currently buy their groceries online every week, and the numbers are projected to go even higher. Up to 31 million US adult residents are expected to use grocery shopping apps by 2024. Reports show that online grocery sales are expected to be at almost $60 billion by 2023.

Amazon and Walmart have the largest online grocery retail market share. Currently, grocery shopping satisfaction is at a whopping 77 percent on Walmart –that’s the highest satisfaction rating. And part of that satisfaction comes from Walmart’s integration of BOPIS systems – there are 3,450 pickup locations for online orders and 2,730 stores offering same-day delivery.

Grocery retailers looking to get their slice of this market and interested in replicating similar results should get in touch with us at Ox. If you’re interested in making your retail operations faster, cost-efficient, and super-seamless using AI-powered machine learning technology, click here to request a demo today.

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