3 Tips For Including BOPIS Into Your Omnichannel Strategy
By Mary Clare Riordan, Marketing Manager
Omnichannel retail is by no means a new term or idea, but retailers must always be approaching it in new ways to best service their customers. Consumers have many choices of where to shop, and they won’t necessarily separate their experiences from one retailer to the next. Instead, most shoppers will judge all shopping experiences on an equal playing field. For instance, if a shopper can buy and receive an item from Amazon in a couple days (or not even), then they may be disappointed to see they won’t receive an item from your online store until a week after purchase. It just takes one retailer to master an innovative approach that will ultimately set customer expectations for other retailers.
Recently, I was shopping on a certain website, and upon seeing that the shipping costs were much higher than I expected, I automatically looked for the “pick up in store” option. I had shopped on plenty of other sites that offered this option, many in the same industry as this store, and I was a bit shocked to see this store did not offer buy online, pickup in store—often referred to as BOPIS.
I ended up abandoning my online order, but hey, maybe if I get around to it, I’ll stop by the store some other time to see if they have what I’m looking for. But probably not. Instead, that store lost out on a sale because I was able to find what I needed somewhere else in a way that was more convenient (and less expensive) for me.
In an age where customers are demanding more and more, and retailers are expected to meet expectations or lose out, buy online, pickup in store is a service that should not be overlooked. In fact, according to Forrester, in January 2016, 35% of US adults who had shopped online in the prior three months bought something online and picked it up in store in those same three months. Today’s savvy and busy shoppers want to save two things: time and money. BOPIS as part of a bigger omnichannel strategy can deliver on both.
However, while BOPIS is an effective way to create and keep customers, successfully executing this system can often cause significant challenges for retailers. You have to take into consideration the various facets of your omnichannel business including eCommerce technologies and business operations. In order to deliver a seamless BOPIS solution that not only pleases your customers, but also incorporates your business needs, you should keep the following tips in mind when implementing the service.
Keep Accurate Track of Inventory Online and Instore. What happens when an online shopper sees a product listed as available at their nearest store, but at the same time, a person in the actual store has that same item in their cart, but hasn’t checked out yet? Although the item is still technically available to be purchased by either customer, you’re going to end up with at least one of them empty handed and unhappy. It is imperative that you integrate your inventory tracking across all channels and keep inventory as up to date as possible.
Effectively Communicate Details. From start to finish, you must be clear about your BOPIS service offering. Typically, not everything you sell will be available for pick up in store, such as customized or big, cumbersome items. Indicate directly on category pages and product description pages if a product is available for pickup. You should even consider implementing a landing page specifically for BOPIS items on which customers can browse for items that they know for certain are available at their nearest store. Call out your BOPIS offering on banners and directly on pages and enable customers to set their location both directly on your homepage and on product pages so that they immediately know what items are available near them as soon as they start browsing.
Pay Attention to your Pickup Process. According to the same Forrester report cited above, 46% of customers are influenced to spend more in addition to their BOPIS purchase when they are given special deals or discounts in store, while 30% are influenced when something interests them at checkout. Consider offering product recommendations on BOPIS receipts or single day discount codes or coupons that expire the same day that the BOPIS item is collected. Design the in store pickup area to incorporate popular items customers can pick up and purchase easily and train your employees to cross-sell and up-sell products or services. Also make it as easy as possible for your customers to receive their products by offering designated parking spots, clear signage, and convenient checkout locations that will encourage customers to keep using your service. All these tactics will please the customer and drive added sales.
Adopting BOPIS as part of your omnichannel strategy requires retailers to overcome some challenges in logistics and processes, but by answering the needs of your busy and cost-conscious customers, you’ll not only increase sales, but also set the bar high for your competitors to meet.
Mary Clare Riordan is a Marketing Manager at LYONSCG and a proud graduate of Marquette Universit