Three BOPUS initiatives and the challenges that come with them.
In our last two pieces on the customer experience, we described how consumers want the ease of shopping online, the ability to track orders and the use of sustainable packaging. But they also prefer to see and try their purchases in person. In fact, two-thirds of consumers who purchase online use the store before or after the transaction. Hence comes the convenience of BOPUS.
What is BOPUS?
BOPUS is a buy online, pickup in store omnichannel delivery method offering customers the ability to purchase online and pick up their order at a local brick-and-mortar store. By giving customers the best of both worlds when it comes to shopping, BOPUS enables retailers to leverage the store as a distribution center where orders can be fulfilled by store retail staff, and eliminates shipping time and costs.
Three BOPUS Initiatives
1. Buy Online, Pickup in Store
Buy online, pickup in store is the traditional BOPUS option. Customers order online and go to the store for pick up. Orders must be in stock at the specified store so retail staff can collect the items for pick up at the service counter.
Advantages: Saves customers' time, eliminates shipping material costs, eliminates shipping carrier costs, encourages additional purchases and expands the customer base.
2. Buy Online, Ship to Store
A second BOPUS option is to buy online and ship to store, appealing to customers who are able to wait a few days to receive their item yet wish to take advantage of free shipping. In fact, 88% of shoppers who use this service do so to avoid shipping costs.
Advantages: Multiple items may be shipped to the store in consolidated shipments using the retailers' own transportation.
3. Buy Online, Return to Store
Return to store is also a BOPUS option because retailers can easily utilize existing return systems to simplify the process.
Advantages: Eliminates extra steps for customers, reduces cost of return via shipping carrier and expedites the customer refund.
More and More Customers are Using BOPUS
BOPUS is not a hidden secret among retailers, and more and more customers are becoming accustomed to the convenience of the popular omnichannel service.
BOPUS and the 2015 Holiday Season
BOPUS can be especially beneficial during the peak holiday season. With BOPUS, customers get the fast, free shipping they desire and retailers benefit from increased foot traffic.
While BOPUS benefits retailers, it also presents challenges. Fortunately, there are solutions to help retailers create a positive BOPUS experience.
Typical In-Store Systems
Many retailers choose to have BOPUS customers pick up or return their items in store at the service counter. To handle this increase in order pickup, retailers need to:
- Fully staff the service counter, especially during peak periods to best protect the overall customer experience.
- Expand the service counter, providing more space and better organization.
- Extend pickup and drop-off times beyond regular store hours.
Implementing these changes for order pickup can be expensive and labor-intensive. From receiving BOPUS orders via the company truck, fulfilling the order in store and delivering customer orders to the service desk, BOPUS adds more responsibilities to retail personnel. BOPUS can also make it more difficult to maintain proper in-store stock numbers. To keep BOPUS costs down, many retailers are implementing parcel lockers.
More than half of shoppers want alternate delivery locations with extended hours and lower fees – 35% prefer parcel lockers
Some retailers place their parcel lockers adjacent to a brick-and-mortar store, giving customers 24/7 access. Others place parcel lockers inside the store to increase in-store foot traffic, reduce lines at the service counter, and promote other items and in-store specials. It’s important to note that certain lockers can also handle returns and the reverse logistics process.
Parcel Lockers enable retailers to compete with large, big-box stores. Amazon has already mastered the personalized and convenient parcel lockers delivery experience by placing them at locations with extended hours or with 24/7 access. [Read What Amazon’s Lockers Lack]
Retailers of all sizes can provide this customer convenience, with a location and timing that works for them to reduce freight costs since carriers no longer need to complete the final mile delivery.