It’s no secret the pandemic has altered both the digital and physical world of commerce. Today, retailers must build a powerful presence in the right spaces (that’s spaces, plural) to reach their customers: online storefronts/D2C, e-commerce marketplaces, social media platforms, mobile channels, and brick-and-mortar stores. Omnichannel commerce allows customers to engage with brands — and vice versa — just about everywhere, and customers should have similar shopping experiences whether they browse brands in-store, on a direct-to-consumer (D2C) site, through another channel like Amazon, or on a social media platform like Instagram.
Executed successfully, omnichannel retail provides customers with a consistent and engaging experience from product discovery to product delivery, which encourages repeat purchases and brand referrals.
Let’s take a deeper dive into one riff of an omnichannel approach: Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS).
BOPIS on the Rise
BOPIS is hardly new. Major retailers have been offering click-and-collect services for a while, and BOPIS options range from traditional customer service department pick-ups… to curbside pick-ups… or more recently to locker pick-ups.
Typically, online customers learn whether a retailer offers BOPIS at the point of checkout. If BOPIS is available, a customer can select in-store or curbside pickup at a store convenient to them and then complete their purchase. Most stores can fulfill the order in one to three hours, and if an item is not in stock at a local store, the customer can choose to have their purchase shipped to the store (although this will take longer). Regardless of whether the item is available same-day or next-day, when it’s time for pickup, the customer receives a notification and then retrieves their order at their convenience during the store’s business hours.
Increasingly popular, surveys show shoppers are more likely to purchase from a retailer with BOPIS services, and curbside pickup is rated one of the most desirable options. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, BOPIS has grown exponentially, and some experts maintain it will significantly change the face of retail, as many shoppers have grown reluctant to linger in brick-and-mortar stores. The statistics certainly seem to back these predictions: according to a survey by Qudini, 62% of consumers embrace BOPIS options as a way to reduce exposure to the coronavirus.
The Advantages of BOPIS
BOPIS services enable retailers to better compete with e-commerce retailers such as Amazon by providing them with a way to offer same-day/next-day shipping to customers without incurring prohibitive shipping costs. And as proven during the pandemic, BOPIS also yields advantages such as contactless delivery, protecting the safety of store associates and customers alike.
But looking past the pandemic, retailers can benefit from BOPIS in additional ways, including:
- Decreasing last-mile delivery costs. For any shipper, last-mile delivery costs can be substantial. Shipping an item to a distribution center costs far less than shipping an item from a distribution center to a residential address, and by eliminating the last-mile, brick-and-mortar retailers can offer fast, free shipping without compromising their profit margins.
- Increasing in-store foot traffic. There’s a reason people joke about entering big box retailers for one thing and then leaving with $100 worth of merchandise: impulse purchases! And BOPIS plays beautifully into this phenomenon by bringing the customer into the store.
BOPIS Requires Some Heavy Lifting
Despite the benefits, BOPIS isn’t necessarily a quick and easy path to increased retail sales. While it’s an impressive and desirable proposition, it requires some heavy lifting to connect online and in-store inventory and to build an agile logistics network.
First, retailers must merge their in-store and online inventory tracking systems. Historically, retailers had two different inventory systems: one for distribution centers, and one for stores. Online orders were fulfilled through distribution centers, and in-store purchases were fulfilled with on-shelf inventory. With BOPIS, these inventory silos must merge, usually in the form of enterprise supply chain technology such as IMS, OMS, and WMS applications, enabling retailers to have a complete view of their entire inventory and thus empowering them to capture the biggest share possible of online sales.
Retailers leveraging a BOPIS distribution model also require a local carrier network catering to their retail footprint and a cloud multi-carrier shipping system to rate and rate shop across this network. Furthermore, the system needs to integrate with their supply chain tech stack: IMS, WMS, OMS, and other applications. Then, when an online customer selects BOPIS at checkout, if it’s necessary to move inventory from store to store or from the distribution center to the store to complete order fulfillment, the multi-carrier shipping system automatically selects the “best cost” carrier service for each order according to parcel origin, parcel destination, carrier contracts, and business rules; and creates or acquires the tracking, labels, and documents. Ultimately, retailers can satisfy customers’ BOPIS requests and drive down the cost of shipping.
It’s important to note that inventory delegation becomes a critical component for BOPIS to enhance the flow of products; retailers must determine which products need to be on hand at all locations and which products can be on hand only at specific locations. For example, snow boots may be critical inventory for retail locations in Portland, Maine, while it’s unlikely they’re necessary in Palm Springs.
Put the Right Mix of Shipping and Omnichannel Capabilities at your Fingertips
Logistyx was named the #1 fulfillment software provider to Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 retailers for two consecutive years. As e-commerce continues to surge, Logistyx ensures top retailers and others with large fulfillment operations have the right mix of shipping and omnichannel capabilities at their fingertips, while tapping into more than 550 global carrier integrations for an optimal transportation strategy to effectively achieve omnichannel fulfillment.
To learn more about how you can leverage BOPIS as well as other distribution strategies, download our white paper: Rethinking Inventory: Matching Approaches to Business Models.