Once upon a time, someone had the idea for a washing machine, and people probably thought that person was clinically insane. You mean instead of going down to the river to wash my clothes, you have a magic box that brings the river (and soap) into my home? Oh, AND there’ll be another magic box that contains warm air to dry my clothes too? Yeah OK buddy. Of course no one would question it now because the washer and dryer are ubiquitous. But that’s how it goes. A new thing sounds crazy — telephones, horseless carriages, KFC’s Double Down sandwich — until they’re everywhere.
Believe it or not, buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), also known as “click and collect,” is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to shop. Last year, more consumers bought products online and then picked them up at a local store than any year before.
If your products are sold in both ecommerce and retail stores, BOPIS is a smart practice to familiarize yourself with.
What is BOPIS, and how does it work?
The buy-online, pick-up-in-store process can take several forms, but most BOPIS experiences have a few core commonalities:
- Shoppers browse available products online, on a website or within an app
- Shoppers designate these products for pick-up
- Shoppers choose where to pick up their products and when, usually including purchases made electronically
- Shoppers conveniently pick up the goods
For many shoppers, BOPIS is the best of both worlds. Customers can enjoy the convenience of shopping online and the ease of getting products almost immediately, instead of waiting for (and paying for) shipping. In a survey of more than 2,000 US shoppers, Doddle — a pick up and return service — found that 68 percent of respondents had used BOPIS multiple times. In 2018, 47 percent of all purchases on HomeDepot.com were BOPIS or BOSS (buy online, ship to store) purchases.
BOPIS is picking up steam, and that means BOPIS-friendly sellers can sometimes gain an advantage over online-only or retail-only competitors. Adobe Analytics notes that in 2018, BOPIS increased 119 percent across all retailers and 250 percent for the biggest retailers.
For BOPIS to be an option, retailers need an online shop and at least one physical location. It’s most useful for large retailers that offer a quality online shopping experience and have numerous brick-and-mortar storefronts. Even a primarily online retailer such as Amazon, whose digital presence vastly outreaches its 600 physical stores, provides a worldwide network of secure pickup locations for packages in Amazon Hub.
So why is BOPIS so popular? How does it benefit consumers, retailers, and brands? In this article we’ll explore the major strengths of BOPIS, as well as look at what brands can do to capitalize on this growing trend.
BOPIS influences where consumers choose to buy
The convenience of getting products immediately (and avoiding shipping costs) is important enough for some consumers that it determines where they purchase products. According to a survey by Doddle, 50 percent of respondents decided where to buy online based on which retailers allowed them to pick up in store.
For some shoppers, researching products and shopping online is a far better experience than going to a store and physically searching for what you need (or waiting for help). And for some high-urgency products, even the fastest shipping isn’t fast enough.
For example, when your water heater breaks, you need a new one fast, but you also want to make sure you choose the right one. It’s not a small purchase (a water heater easily costs upwards of $400), and you could be living with your choice for more than a decade. But once you’re confident in your choice, you need it now because you want to take a hot shower tomorrow, not a week from now.
More consumers choose BOPIS during the holidays
The holiday season, especially Black Friday weekend, is notorious for bumper-to-bumper traffic, excruciatingly long lines, and limited-stock products. In their hunt for deals, some shoppers may find themselves bouncing between several local stores to find a single item.
Many consumers work around these challenges by shopping online. But without BOPIS, there’s another problem for last-minute shoppers: what if their order doesn’t arrive in time for the holidays?
One study found that during the holidays, 67 percent of respondents planned to use BOPIS to avoid lines, ensure their gift arrived on time, and guarantee they could find what they needed. Buying this way also allows them to dodge traffic by securing their purchase during deals, and picking up their order the next day.
BOPIS reduces shipping costs
Regular online shopping has a trade-off: the selection process is more convenient, but shoppers pay extra for shipping, which takes a few days. Some brands and retailers choose to eat shipping costs to make their online store more competitive. But when BOPIS is an option, it removes the wait and saves customers (and retailers) from paying to ship each purchase.
Customers don’t have to worry about stolen packages
Especially during the holidays, the news constantly circulates stories of package thieves caught on camera. Some consumers avoid shipping packages to their homes altogether because they don’t trust their neighborhoods.
For others, when an important package comes, they make a mad dash to get home to ensure it arrives safely. Knowing an expensive item is sitting exposed on your porch or precariously stuffed in your mailbox can be a source of anxiety.
You can see how this makes BOPIS attractive to some consumers: it removes the need to worry about the package in transit. Someone’s always taking care of the goods, and there’s no middleman between the seller and the buyer.
Most consumers make additional purchases in store
When you’re physically in a store, every aisle and every display is an opportunity to discover something you forgot you needed, could need soon, want to have, or should pick up for someone else. Being in the store means there’s no longer the barrier of driving to the store or hunting for what you need online and waiting for shipping. Everything is right there, within arms reach or a short walk down the aisle.
When retailers try to recreate that experience online, it can easily feel spammy and obnoxious. Imagine trying to check out online, but first having to click through ads to complete your purchase.
For retailers, BOPIS isn’t just an important way to serve customers. It’s also an opportunity to make additional sales. Doddle found that 85 percent of those who used BOPIS said they have made additional purchases when they arrive at a store to pick up an order made online.
Retailers can use BOSS to fulfill BOPIS orders
Buy online, ship to store (BOSS) is a variation of BOPIS. It’s not as ideal for consumers, but it gives retailers more flexibility, because not everything has to be in stock at every store to close the sale.
One of the biggest reasons consumers choose to BOPIS is that they can get their order sooner. But retailers can still give consumers the other benefits of BOPIS, such as avoiding shipping costs and not worrying about unattended packages, by shipping products from one store to another.
Many retailers believe BOPIS will become the standard way to shop
BOPIS is one of the most convenient ways for people to shop. It gives consumers the best of both worlds: the convenience of shopping online and the expediency of picking up their order in-store.
Brands and retailers need to embrace that this isn’t a fad, it’s well on its way to becoming the norm. According to a survey by Zebra, 86 percent of retailers “agree click and collect (buy online/pickup in store) will become the default delivery method.” And 93 percent of respondents expected to have BOPIS options in place by 2023.
Retailers can make BOPIS completely self-service
Not all retailers are equally equipped to make BOPIS a smooth experience for customers. Sometimes buyers have to wait in the general customer service line, stuck behind people returning products or asking lengthy questions.
Some stores have signage for BOPIS customers. Others don’t, forcing people who have already paid — for the convenience of not wandering the store — to wander the store until they find an employee who can tell them where to pick up their order.
But some large retailers (like Home Depot) that receive a high volume of BOPIS orders have taken a more innovative approach: designated self-serve lockers for BOPIS orders. When someone makes a BOPIS order, an employee collects the items and puts them in a locker at the front of the store. The customer receives a code to open the locker and never has to wait in line to pick up what they’ve already paid for.
As buying options like BOPIS become standard, brands and retailers can take steps to make the process smoother and more convenient. Those that do are much more likely to get repeat BOPIS customers.
What BOPIS means for brands
Many brands have a far bigger online presence than physical presence. It’s much easier to scale sales online and sell products through online retailers than it is to open brick-and-mortar stores all across the United States. And unless you have multiple stores in every state you sell your products, offering a BOPIS option yourself is only going to appeal to a small percentage of your customers.
But brands can’t ignore the appeal of BOPIS, either. If you want to remain competitive in a world where BOPIS is quickly becoming the standard way to shop, then you need to give your customers a clear way to take advantage of it even if it’s not through you.
Here’s what you can do.
Highlight online and local retail partners
Many brands use where to buy technology of some kind to highlight major retailers that sell their products. This gives their customers the flexibility to buy their product while still taking advantage of the perks and incentives they love — such as Amazon Prime, membership programs, coupons, or special credit cards — and prevents them from having to go through account creation (so they can complete a purchase even if they don’t have their credit card on hand).
But for customers that prefer to shop via BOPIS, you can’t just highlight online retailers. You need to show your customers local retailers, too, because that’s where they ultimately want to go. You wouldn’t want a BOPIS customer to get all the way to checkout at Walmart.com before discovering the nearest Walmart is an hour away, when they could have used BOPIS to get the same product at the Walgreens on the corner.
By showing your customers local retail partners, you’re saving them from potentially frustrating situations and making it easier for them to get what they want (your product) in the way they want (BOPIS).
For this to be possible, your where to buy tool must allow website visitors to search for stores using their zip code and/or city. Ideally, it should also display local retailers on a map and use their location information to automatically find nearby stores, without requiring them to lift a finger.
Show if your product is in stock
As a customer, it’s incredibly frustrating to receive inaccurate information. And as a brand that wants to build trust and loyalty, you don’t want to tell your customers they can buy your product from a local store if they don’t have it in stock. That’s why it’s important not to just display stores that sell your products, but to include current stock information as well.
Some where to buy tools pull this information on specific days of the week, but that only increases the likelihood that you’ll create frustrating experiences by giving your customers outdated information. Just because your product was in stock yesterday doesn’t mean it’s in stock today, especially if there’s a sale. You need a where to buy tool that pulls that information daily, and ideally, multiple times a day.
Say you’re advertising a product on Google or Facebook, and someone clicks through to your product page. They do some research and decide they’re interested in your product, but you don’t show stock information. Naturally, they follow the link to Home Depot, but big orange is out of stock. They check Lowes: out of stock too. Walmart, Target, Fred Meyer — same story. If you’d chosen to include stock information, you could’ve showed them from the beginning that their local hardware store had your product in stock, but instead you made them hunt. And every time a store doesn’t have your product in stock, it’s another opportunity to lose the sale.
The last thing you want to do is send a customer to a website where they can’t buy your product the way they want. They may go back to your website or jump to another local retailer that provides a BOPIS option. Or, they might just take the more convenient route: find a comparable product from another brand on the same website. When that happens, you’re driving sales straight from your website to your competitors.
Streamline the path to purchase
Ultimately, brands and retailers are opening the door to BOPIS because consumers have made it clear they want that option. They’re not caving to a fad, they’re making the shopping experience more convenient and becoming more competitive.
If you sell products online and want to compete in a world where BOPIS is the ideal way to buy, you need tools that let your website visitors see where it’s an option.
At PriceSpider, our Where to Buy solution helps you empower your customers to buy your products where they want, how they want, with information they can trust by pulling the data they need multiple times every day. In addition to helping people find your brand’s products, if you add the shoppable function to your where to buy, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities, enabling you to make all of your touchpoints like ads, organic social posts, and content “shoppable” while delivering you data on the customer journey so you can optimize it.
Contact us today to schedule a demo, and see what our Where to Buy technology can do for you.