How retailers can leverage the 'Buy Online, Pickup In-Store' revolution

With closures at Sears, Abercrombie & Fitch and Sam’s Club, not to mention Toys“R”Us, the retail landscape is rapidly evolving along with consumer shopping behaviors. A bright spot in the brick and mortar retail landscape is Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) — which is gaining momentum and is now expected by consumers as a part of their experience. In fact, research shows BOPIS accounts for up to 30 percent of online revenue—and that’s not likely to change any time soon. In fact it’s likely to increase.

According to the recently released Pitney Bowes Shipping Index Report for 2017, package volume in the U.S. increased 8 percent vs. the previous year. What does that look like? A total of 11.9 billion packages were sent in 2017—or an average of 37 packages per person!

Retailers who want to make the most of this new shopping experience need to understand the best practices of BOPIS, particularly for those in the consumer electronics space, where the fight to keep tech-savvy customers is more competitive than ever before.

See also: How Not To Become The Next Toys‘R’Us

Our experience with our Package Concierge locker systems has resulted in a set of recommended best practices for successful execution. Here are the top five ways today’s retailers can ensure they are on the right track to effectively leverage BOPIS:

1. Make it easy: Retailers who want to offer a truly integrated experience across channels need to incorporate BOPIS to provide an easy way for consumers to get what they want, when they want it. Shoppers are demanding more fulfillment options, so make it easy for them to shop in the way they want. Plus, a study by BizRate Insights has shown that up to 79 percent of consumers are making additional in-store purchases when retrieving their BOPIS order, which can significantly increase revenue.

2. Make it affordable: Research indicates that over 55 percent of consumers are selecting BOPIS as their preferred shopping method simply to save on pricey shipping fees, so consider offering sales incentives to excite shoppers to try out your BOPIS offering and save money in a new way.

3. Make it seamless: The most critical part of BOPIS is ensuring you and your customers have near real-time visibility into inventory, so you’re not offering products that are out of stock or no longer available. Inventory accuracy ensures a seamless experience from start to finish.

4. Make it centrally located: Maximize your BOPIS investment — make sure your customers can easily find where to pick up their order and give them plenty of information to do so. Over-communicate during every step of the order fulfillment process and provide plenty of signage within the store, too. Plus, let customers know upfront on your website that BOPIS is an option; otherwise they may abandon their cart and look elsewhere.

5. Make it organized: The last mile for BOPIS is fulfillment, so that means selecting a strong locker management solution partner that automates the process, while ensuring goods are organized and easy to retrieve. If retailers don’t leverage some sort of locker system, they risk adding clutter and confusion to the fulfillment and a burden on their in-store staff, which can result in long lines, unhappy customers and overextended employees.

BOPIS is not a trend — it’s a fulfillment revolution offering advantages for both the retailer and customer. From our internal customer satisfaction surveys, 94 percent stated that BOPIS locker retrieval was faster than customer service counter retrieval; this is important because convenience is king for the consumer. BOPIS leverages the biggest asset for brick-and-mortar — the physical location.

Retailers who offer BOPIS and integrate best practices into their process will not just survive, but thrive in today’s dynamic retail environment.

Penny Lasater is head of Package Concierge Retail, a provider of automated locker systems

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