Omnichannel retailers, take note: BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) is growing more popular with shoppers, and that trend is expected to continue. BOPIS presents an opportunity to build customer loyalty and generate more online and in-store revenue when retailers do it well. The flip side, of course, is that a BOPIS experience that’s fragmented or impersonal risks driving customers away—especially if nearby competitors offer a better experience.
Here’s what’s happening with BOPIS now, what customers expect and how to deliver it.
More shoppers use BOPIS
Nearly 70% of US shoppers have used BOPIS more than once, according to Business Insider Intelligence. Half say they’ve made purchases online based on whether BOPIS was available. Adobe’s December 2019 Holiday Shopping Trends report found that 37% more BOPIS orders were placed in 2019 than the year before. And more than 80% of customers who use BOPIS shop for other things while they’re in-store to pick up their orders, which introduces them to cross-selling opportunities, and leads to more revenue.
Shipping cost savings is one of the main reasons consumers give for choosing BOPIS over home delivery, but speed and convenience matter, too. In particular, speed and convenience may be what drive the sharp spike in BOPIS orders placed during the holiday shopping season. Adobe found that in the week before Christmas, BOPIS revenue doubles, relative to the rest of the holiday shopping season.
Because BOPIS is popular with customers, especially during the peak retail season, and can generate additional in-store revenue, 90% of brick-and-mortar retailers will offer BOPIS by 2021. Three-quarters of those retailers plan to provide customized in-store experiences. As retailers implement these plans, customer expectations for BOPIS experiences will rise.
Data drives great BOPIS experiences
To meet rising customer expectations, BOPIS must deliver several things, all supported by customer, inventory and payment data.
A Bell & Howell BOPIS study conducted with secret shoppers found that retailers have finally stepped up their game on mobile CX. Now, more shoppers are satisfied with mobile than with desktop BOPIS shopping experiences, which means any retailer who wants to win at BOPIS needs to provide a robust mobile experience as well as a good desktop experience.
What makes an excellent mobile experience for BOPIS shoppers? Ease of finding items in the online store is vital. The Bell & Howell study found that the mobile version of a store is often easier for shoppers to navigate than the desktop version because the smaller screen size forces a less-cluttered, better-organized store layout.
A low-friction checkout process is another essential part of the BOPIS experience, especially on mobile devices. The fewer steps customers must take to pay for their purchases, the more likely they are to complete their orders.
When items are marked online as available for pickup, Bell & Howell found, customers are more likely to use the store’s BOPIS service again. Showing available items in real-time requires inventory visibility, good communication among stores and regional distribution centers and AI to help predict, plan and manage inventory availability. Gartner includes these capabilities in its 2020 suggested goals for retail CIOs.
How a clear and fast pickup process happens
A satisfying pickup process starts before the customer arrives, a time when the retailer can send reminders about where the pickup counter is and any special parking information for BOPIS shoppers. This is one area where even the retailers with the highest BOPIS customer ratings fell short in Bell & Howell’s study, creating some confusion for shoppers when they arrived at the store.
Shoppers expect not to have to wait in line and to have their orders to be ready fast—ideally within an hour, but at least within two. When BOPIS orders in the Bell & Howell study were ready in two hours or less, shoppers were more likely to use the service again. Stores must be able to screen and verify orders quickly to deliver on pickup time expectations. Store staff must be able to find ordered items fast, bring them to the pickup counter and let customers know their order is ready.
Another element of a good in-store pickup is identifying customers correctly without making them go through multiple steps to prove their identity. The quality of the experience at the counter will depend on accurate data to verify customer identity.
BOPIS-related personalization can start before the customer arrives at the store, with push notifications, texts, or emails about related products the customer might want to buy in-store. Maps and search tools can guide shoppers to the exact aisle and shelf for any extra items they want to buy while they’re picking up.
Of course, sales associates should be able to address these customers by name and apply loyalty points or rewards to their purchases. For these features, stores need to correlate marketing data with order and stock data, and they need to recognize customers on arrival.
Visible data is the foundation for each element in the BOPIS process, and retailers that want to earn and keep BOPIS customers need a single source of truth for customer and product data. Retailers who shift from patchwork legacy systems to unified data will also be in a better position to innovate on BOPIS as customer expectations for speed, convenience and personalization continue to rise.
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