December 7, 2021

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The Ultimate Guide to BOPIS for Retail Store Owners

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Retailers around the world are adopting the BOPIS model to meet customer expectations. We’re not referring to the spicy Filipino appetizer, we’re talking about buy online, pick up in-store.

BOPIS is the perfect way for you to drive in-store foot traffic and bridge the gap between the traditional brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences. 

Revenue from BOPIS sales was already up an average of 35% during the 2019 holiday season—and the pandemic has accelerated its growth. 

As you add BOPIS to your omnichannel retail strategy it’s important to understand what BOPIS is, how it works, and the benefits for you and your customers.

In this article, we’ll take a look at all of this, plus a few examples of retailers who are excelling at buy online, pick up in-store. 

Table of Contents

What is BOPIS in retail?

BOPIS is an acronym for buy online, pick up in-store. It’s also referred to as click and collect, curbside pickup, and ROPIS (reserve online, pick up in-store). 

This popular retail strategy gives customers the best of both worlds by integrating online shopping and in-person pickup. With BOPIS, shoppers don’t have to deal with shipping costs, long delivery timelines, and shipping back items that don’t fit or meet their expectations.

Customers can shop from the comfort of their home and go to the store or pickup location once the order is ready. 

This strategy is great for retailers who have both a brick-and-mortar store and an ecommerce website. It lets you optimize the omnichannel retail experience and merge online shopping and physical store experiences. BOPIS makes the buying process more convenient for retailers and customers. 

How does BOPIS work?

The BOPIS shopping experience provides your customers with the flexibility to choose how they want to fulfill their order. Convenience is key to improving the customer experience and BOPIS lets shoppers make a purchase and pick it up immediately if they want to. 

This is how the BOPIS shopping and order fulfillment process works: 

1. Customers buy online, through your website or mobile app

With BOPIS, it’s crucial to create a convenient experience by letting customers complete their purchase online. During the checkout process, the shopper needs to be able to select the time and pickup location for the products in their cart. Real-time local inventory updates let the customer know when and where the products will be available for pickup. 

2. The retailer fulfills the online order 

There are two order fulfillment scenarios with BOPIS in retail. 

  1. The item is in stock at the customer’s local store. When the order is available at your retail store, you can locate it, pick and pack, and set it aside for the customer to pick up. You can then send a notification via email or text, letting the shopper know their order is ready for pickup.
  2. The item is not in stock at the customer’s local store. If the order is not in stock at your retail store, you can order it from another store location or your warehouse. Once it arrives at your customer’s preferred pick-up location, you can send them a notification to tell them it’s available. 

3. The customer picks up the order 

Depending on your BOPIS strategy, you may do pickups in-store or at a designated pickup location. Some retailers are making BOPIS even more convenient by offering curbside pickup. The customer can drive up to your storefront and be handed their order while they stay in their car.

Regardless of the pickup strategy you choose, shoppers should never feel confused when they opt for BOPIS purchases. It’s important that the process is clear from start to finish. This includes order confirmation and concise instructions about where and how to pick up products.

BOPIS is growing, we have statistics to prove it

BOPIS is popular and has demonstrated success among consumers. Take a look at these numbers that prove how shoppers are flocking to the BOPIS shopping experience. 

  1. According to our data, 59% of consumers are interested in BOPIS-type shopping options.
  2. Among BOPIS shoppers, 30% chose this order fulfillment option for the first time since the pandemic was declared.
  3. Among BOPIS shoppers, 64% say they are opting for in-store pickup more often than before the pandemic was declared.

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Also, according to Statista, 83% of respondents bought items online and picked them up at the counter in 2019. 63% of respondents said they wanted to try the buy online, pick up in-store service option of a curbside pickup.

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Want more data?

Check out our Future of Retail in 2021 report, a compilation of stats we generated by poring over data from more than one million merchants on Shopify and collecting survey insights from consumers all over the world

Get the report

The benefits of BOPIS (for you and your customers)

Consumers are looking for a shopping experience that’s convenient and also saves them time and money. Retailers are noticing the benefits of BOPIS and adopting this shopping experience to stay competitive.

In fact, research from The National Retail Federation states that 83% of consumers find shopping convenience more important than it was five years ago. In the same study, 70% of respondents said BOPIS improved their shopping experience. 

Brick-and-mortar retailers can use BOPIS to compete with Amazon and other ecommerce-only companies that don’t have a storefront. It’s a great way to strengthen your omnichannel selling strategy and customer experience. 

Let’s look at the benefits BOPIS offers retail store owners:

1. Increased store traffic and sales 

When customers stop by your store to pick up their order, they might look around and browse for more products. They could also remember something they wanted to buy and spend more money in-store. 

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, over 50% of adult shoppers use BOPIS. And 67% of those people add additional items to their carts when they know they can pick them up immediately.

💡 PRO TIP: Create a designated BOPIS counter in your store and strategically place impulse or add-on items nearby. This is the perfect opportunity to upsell. 

2. Reduced shipping costs 

Shipping orders from your distribution center to your customers’ doors can add up. BOPIS lets you send bulk shipments to your retail store or pickup point. When shoppers pick up orders from your store, you save on last-mile shipping costs. 

3. Improved inventory management

With BOPIS, it’s important to streamline your inventory management and get real-time stock updates. Merging online and in-store inventory tracking lets you fulfill orders from your store or distribution center—whatever the faster option is. This gives you more access and control over a larger assortment of inventory. It also gives you better insights into what products are available in real time. 

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Image source: Offers.com

So, how do your customers benefit?

1. No shipping costs

Unless you offer free shipping for online orders, it can be much more expensive for shoppers to have products shipped to them. Conversely, with BOPIS, consumers can save money and time by picking up their purchase in-store or at a pickup point. They can save the $5 they might have spent on shipping, but can still take advantage of ordering online. 

2. Speedy service

For shoppers who need an item urgently, it’s faster to buy it online and pick it up an hour later versus waiting one to three days for delivery. People want instant gratification, and BOPIS is a way to offer it.

3. Guarantee that the item is in stock 

With BOPIS, you pick and pack the customer’s order before you send them a notification that it’s ready for pickup. This makes it 100% guaranteed that when the shopper arrives, the product will be available. 

4. Quick returns and exchanges

If the product doesn’t fit—or doesn’t meet a customer’s expectations—returns or exchanges are processed immediately rather than having to ship the order back. 

BOPIS examples: 4 retailers excelling at in-store pickup

Want to see the BOPIS model in action? Here are some examples of retailers excelling at in-store pickup. 

Lululemon 

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Lululemon offers fast and easy curbside pickup for its customers. First you select your preferred store location, then you can choose to pick up your order. Lululemon’s simple BOPIS landing page makes it easy for shoppers to understand the buy online, pick up in-store process. 

Curbside pickup has also helped Lululemon sell more in-store. The brand reported 20% of shoppers who chose to pick up their orders in-store made an additional purchase when they came to get their products. 

Outdoor Voices

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Outdoor Voices’ BOPIS options are also a good example of how you can test buy online, pick up in-store. When a customer shops online, there’s a note in the order summary letting them know that if shop pickup is available, it will display at checkout.

The brand is using technology to expand its omnichannel selling strategy, including more same-day delivery and buy online, pick up in-store options.

The goal is to make sure the buying journey is seamless, quick, and friction-free.

TC Running

Throughout the pandemic, Shopify merchant TC Running expanded its online store so customers can order products online for shipping or curbside pickup. The brand’s online sales have grown 110% every month since its website launch in March 2020. 

GAP

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GAP is offering two new ways to shop: 

  1. Buy online, pick up curbside
  2. Buy online, pick up in-store 

We like how the GAP’s BOPS landing page provides step-by-step details about how it works, plus an FAQ section at the bottom. The process is clear for shoppers—and the “We think you’ll like these” section at the bottom of the page is a great way to encourage people to buy more. 

4 BOPIS challenges and best practices you can use to overcome them

BOPIS is a great omnichannel retail strategy that can result in increased sales and happier customers. But it still has its challenges. It’s important to make sure the BOPIS model doesn’t create a mind-boggling or disappointing customer experience. 

This research from NAPCO confirms that the biggest challenges originate from the retail store itself.

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Image source: NAPCO 

Here, we’ll look at a few of these challenges in more detail and how you can overcome them: 

1. Fulfillment speed and in-store space 

Many of your customers may suddenly take advantage of your new BOPIS model. It’s not a bad problem to have, but orders pile up and you could run out of space in-store if numerous shoppers pick up at the same time. 

Consider assigning BOPIS orders to specific employees and create a designated area in your store where people can line up to collect their purchase.

2. Inventory synchronization

If your inventory isn’t synced properly with your online store and your brick-and-mortar shop, the BOPIS model could be a nightmare. You want to avoid having to call or send emails telling BOPIS customers that the item they just ordered is out of stock. 

Not only can it take your time away from helping in-store shoppers, it’s also not a great experience for your customers.

3. Investment to set up and manage BOPIS

For the BOPIS model to be successful, someone needs to be available to pick and pack the buy online, pick up in-store orders. Depending on the size of your business, you may want to hire additional staff who focus on reviewing and fulfilling BOPIS orders.

Of course, this requires a financial investment, but it’s worth it. If your regular staff is constantly tasked with fulfilling online orders for pickup, it can hurt your in-store customer experience. 

4. Lack of customer awareness for BOPIS 

Spending money on a new sales strategy won’t yield a positive return on investment (ROI) if shoppers don’t know about it.

Boost customer awareness by creating a BOPIS campaign and sharing it across your marketing channels, including email and social media. You can also put up signage in your retail store so customers know they can pick up online orders in the future. 

Moving forward with BOPIS (3 requirements to get started)

Are you a brick-and-mortar retailer with an ecommerce store but not offering BOPIS yet? It’s time to get started! 

Embracing this omnichannel retail strategy gives your customers a more convenient shopping experience and a proven track record of increasing sales. 

Getting started isn’t complicated. Make sure you have the following three requirements set up to provide an outstanding BOPIS experience: 

  1. A website or mobile app for online ordering (you can start a free 14-day trial of Shopify to build your website today) that can easily sync with your in-store point of sale system (using Shopify for your ecommerce and in-store selling makes this seamless)
  2. Real-time inventory capabilities so stock is synchronized across all locations
  3. At least one brick-and-mortar location  

Shoppers frequently look for convenience, which makes it key to test and implement new customer experiences like buy online, pick up in-store. It lets you compete with the Amazons of the world by using your physical retail store as a fulfillment hub. 

With BOPIS, you can put products in the hands of your customers at a faster rate.

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