E-commerce sales have continued to drive retail revenue in 2018, and with Deloitte forecasting $1.1 trillion in retail holiday sales driven primarily by growth in online sales, there's no sign of this trend letting up any time soon. So how can brick-and-mortar stores secure a piece of this pie? Research by Signifyd earlier in the year showed that buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) was already responsible for nearly 30 percent of online retail revenue, making it the clear path forward for retailers.
The rapidly shifting generational landscape can also affect this path as today’s consumers are more educated and more connected than ever before. Moreover, with the continued emergence of new technologies, like artificial intelligence, consumers can purchase products in new ways. The retailers that adapt to accommodate will end up on top.
Enter BOPIS. A recent report from Kibo revealed that 78 percent of shoppers already use BOPIS, and nearly half are willing to remain loyal to brands offering the service. The popularity of BOPIS is the perfect way for retailers to marry online and in-store experiences to engage with today’s savvy consumers. And the right BOPIS fulfillment system can make the difference between success and setback.
As a result, I've identified the top three ways retailers can gain the competitive edge with an effective BOPIS strategy:
- Create an experience. A recent study shows two-thirds of shoppers say multiple fulfillment options influence their willingness to complete a purchase. Retailers must deliver the total package when it comes to the customer experience, which means merging digital and physical shopping. BOPIS is the No. 1 way to do that. By providing a seamless, consistent experience across all possible channels, retailers offer consumers the convenience of purchasing when and where they like. Customer satisfaction killer No. 1: Confusion over the BOPIS process will often result in shoppers abandoning ship.
- Gain insight into inventory. Retailers need to ensure customers can see store-level inventory when making an online item selection for store pickup. Because shoppers want their merchandise ASAP, and they’ll likely only consider items that are in-stock and ready for pickup, a retailer’s transparency into inventory is paramount. BOPIS won't work if retailers don’t have a clearly stated fulfillment promise that they can consistently deliver upon. Customer satisfaction killer No. 2: a shopper ordering an item, only to find it isn’t available once they check out.
- Deploy a DIY pickup solution. Automated lockers, particularly those that integrate next-generation technologies, will streamline the self-serve component of BOPIS fulfillment, which in turn frees up employees to serve customers in other capacities. This is especially important during the busy holiday season when shoppers are in a rush and in need of instant delivery gratification. Customer satisfaction killer No. 3: shoppers having to stand in a long line and wait for an employee to retrieve their order.
We're at the tipping point of the BOPIS revolution. Amazon.com has a reported 2,000-plus automated lockers, and it's estimated that by the end of this year 40 percent of the U.S. population will have access to a Walmart pickup locker. By focusing on a wholly integrated shopping journey that includes a cohesive customer experience, appropriate inventory visibility and self-serve fulfillment, retailers can successfully implement a BOPIS solution that helps bridge the gap between online and in-person shopping, and thus will continue to thrive in today’s dynamic retail environment.
Donna Logback is a marketing and communications manager for Package Concierge, the innovator of the automated locker system
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