The BOPUS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store) has been attracting hype for both retailers and customers, and this trend is expected to stay.
BOPUS lets retailers leverage omnichannel experiences to boost online and in-store profits when done well. However, it requires synergy between online commerce channels and physical retail to succeed.
What are the advantages of the buy online, pick up in-store strategy, and how can retailers deliver? Here are some tips to consider.
What Is Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPUS)?
BOPUS stands for Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store. It is sometimes also shortened to BOPIS.
True to its name, it gives shoppers the option to order items online and pick them up in-store.
Here’s how the process works:
- Customers place the order: Shoppers purchase goods online through the retailer’s mobile app or website. On the checkout landing page, customers can choose the date, time, and pickup location.
- Retailer prepares order for pickup: Retail staff find the items ordered and pack them. Once packages are ready for pickup, shoppers can receive a notification through SMS or email.
- Customer picks up the package: Customers can get their packages in-store or at a dedicated pickup location. Some retailers may offer curbside pickup options where consumers can drive to the storefront and get their orders while remaining inside their vehicles.
This style of shopping is gaining popularity because consumers prefer the speed and convenience of online shopping.
Here are some statistics that prove this model is becoming increasingly popular:
- 68 percent of U.S. consumers have leveraged BOPUS to make purchases.
- 50 percent of consumers have chosen retailers based on whether they offer the option to pick up orders in-store.
- 48 percent of consumers have used BOPUS because it offers free shipping, followed by speed (39 percent) and convenience (28 percent).
How Can BOPUS Benefit Your Brand?
As you can imagine, the buy online, pick up in-store strategy can bring a lot of potential benefits to your business. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the popular advantages it offers.
1. BOPUS Increases Traffic
Once customers arrive in your store to pick up their goods, they’ll likely be tempted to visit in-store. They may want to inspect a product they’re interested in prior to purchasing it or browse for other items in your store.
Top reasons why consumers prefer BOPUS include seeing a product before taking it home (77 percent), avoid shipping fees (65 percent), convenience (29 percent), and the ability to return the product instantly (23 percent).
BOPUS can also boost traffic to your online website or increase the number of downloads for your mobile app. When consumers subscribe to your online channels, you have more opportunities to send promotional content or advertise deals through the mobile app.
If customers have an account on your website, you can get information about their browsing habits or purchase history, then use it to create personalized promos.
2. BOPUS Increases Sales
It can also boost sales by encouraging more people to buy in-store when they pick up their items.
Invesp reports 75 percent of shoppers who have previously used BOPUS are likely to make an additional purchase. On top of this, 67 percent of BOPUS users purchase additional items in-store when picking up their orders.
This means retailers get another opportunity to upsell products and increase impulse purchases. More importantly, the convenience means more customers will flock to retailers who offer it as an option.
3. BOPUS Provides a Better Customer Experience
BOPUS enables consumers to buy online, which means a more convenient shopping experience.
Rather than wait for the delivery in a week, they can pick up the items on the same day.
When they arrive in-store to collect their original orders, they can also inspect products that interest them or get inquiries answered by staff.
Retailers who can provide a streamlined shopping experience can also inform customers whether a particular product is in stock prior to visiting the store.
4. BOPUS Offers Free Shipping
With BOPUS, shoppers can enjoy free shipping. They can save up on a few bucks and simultaneously enjoy the convenience of online shopping.
Customers also have the option to choose the date and time of pickup. They can control when they can drop by the store or opt for same-day delivery if they urgently need an item.
5. BOPUS Enables Quick Returns
Sometimes customers may wish to quickly return a product because it did not meet their expectations.
With BOPUS, consumers can process exchanges and returns upon arriving in the store. This is a lot better than shipping the orders back and waiting for the return to be processed.
6. Improve Inventory Management System
Buy online, pick up in-store encourages retailers to align their online and in-store inventory management system.
An order can also be fulfilled at the distribution center, enabling a faster shipping and fulfillment process. When done right, it can even allow customers to confirm whether an item is in stock before arriving in the store to check out products.
Customers are notified when an item is ready for pickup. This means they’re 100 percent guaranteed to receive their complete order when they arrive at the store unless stated otherwise.
How to Have a Successful Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store Business Model
What do retailers need to make BOPUS a reality in their business? Here are the tips and tricks which you need to know.
1. Online Site or App for Placing Orders
Of course, retailers must have an online website or mobile app where customers can order products. Ideally, it should accurately tell which items are in stock for the shoppers’ convenience.
Since plenty of customers buy through their mobile devices, they may prefer retailers who let them purchase via a mobile app. With this channel, retailers can also send push notifications to let them know the order has been processed or is ready for pickup.
2. Physical Store or Pickup Location
BOPUS requires a physical store or pickup location where customers pick up their items.
Ideally, the area should be easily accessible, and it should accommodate higher foot traffic.
Retailers offering curbside pickup may need to reserve parking space for curbside customers. They may also need to have clear signage so they know exactly where to pick up their items.
3. Real-time Inventory Capabilities
It can be frustrating when customers visit in-store or pick up their orders only to realize one of the items is out of stock. Hence, retailers must have real-time inventory capabilities so customers can easily determine whether an item is in stock through the mobile app or website.
A robust retailer fulfillment system should also take into account order statuses and workflows.
If your business has multiple locations, opt for a system with multi-location inventory management capabilities. This way, customers can determine item visibility and choose the most convenient location to shop for their desired products.
4. Train Staff
Whether customers order online or in-store, the staff must be trained on best practices for quality customer service.
Think about the problems that may occur when customers pick up their items and train staff to respond accordingly,
If customers receive damaged goods, then they should offer assistance for product returns. Likewise, customers with product inquiries for in-store items should be able to talk to staff that can help them make informed decisions.
Support agents for the online channels should also be trained to ensure a consistent and seamless buying experience.
Since you often need to improve customer experience, retrain staff every six to 12 months.
5. Investment on Staff to Manage BOPUS
The buy online, pick up in–store model requires initial investment to hire dedicated staff.
Their role encompasses the ability to identify online orders, pick them up in-store, and pack them in a neat package. You may also need employees in charge of double-checking and fulfilling orders.
6. Market Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store
Investing on BOPUS won’t be worth it if customers don’t even know it exists.
As a result, invest in marketing campaigns and promotional materials to boost customer awareness. Place signages in your retail outlets with instructions on how customers can use this option. Consider creating social media posts and emails to announce the launch of BOPUS.
7. Leverage Augmented Reality Apps
Retailers who want to ensure a smoother online shopping experience can leverage augmented reality apps. This will enable shoppers to test or view products before they make a purchase.
Take, for instance, the IKEA Place app, which lets customers preview how their furniture looks in their home prior to making a purchase. With your smartphone, you can immediately see whether the sofas, cabinets, or armchairs you plan to buy will match your room’s aesthetic.
Not only can this decrease returns, but customers can get a realistic expectation of the items they’ll be purchasing from the store.
8. Boost Personalization
Shops that want to offer more personalization can also opt for Customize Online, Pick Up In-Store (COPUS).
The business model is very similar to the buy online, pick up in-store model, but the difference is customers can customize the items ordered online.
Yankee Candle gives consumers the opportunity to pick a fragrance, include a photo, and a personalized message for $5. This makes their products ideal for gift-giving.
Not all retailers are fit to offer personalized products and that’s completely OK.
Thanks to the latest advanced technologies, you can leverage customer data platforms to get real-time profiles of shoppers. A profile may include their wish lists, purchase history, birthdays, or product recommendations.
With this information, staff and marketing teams can offer personalized recommendations and guide customers throughout their buying journey.
BOPUS Brand Examples
Which brands or small businesses are succeeding with this business model? Here are some examples which could inspire your own.
TC Running is a brand that offers running shoes and sportswear. It has expanded its online store to enable customers to get orders shipped or opt for curbside pickup. As a result, the brand’s sales skyrocketed by at least 110 percent every month since its launch.
Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery
Located in Detroit, Ackroyd’s is a popular bakery offering savory pies, tea cakes, puddings, and meats. In 2020, the business closed its retail stores in favor of curbside pickup orders and nationwide shipping. According to their website, the shift to e-commerce and the buy online, pick up in-store model has given them the ability to expand their national reach and improve their production and inventory.
Fashion brand DressUp utilized BOPUS by turning their retail shops into pickup locations.
Through the website, shoppers can choose their preferred pickup location. Software will then check whether the items are in stock before the customer can purchase them on the checkout page.
In the Shipping section, customers who opt for BOPUS get the retail store Google Map location, contact details, and operating hours. The clear set of instructions enable customers to pick up their orders without a hassle.
Precycle is a package-free store offering organic produce and sustainable food.
For contactless delivery, they transitioned to a curbside pickup option. According to their FAQ page, customers can place orders online and their stock availability is updated daily. Upon making the purchase, they receive pickup instructions and click a link to view specific directions.
The buy online, pick up in-store business model enables e-commerce businesses and retailers to offer a seamless online shopping experience.
At the same time, customers may be encouraged to drop by the physical store to make additional purchases or check out products of interest.
Other notable perks of buy online, pick up in-store strategy include the option to save up on shipping. In addition, shoppers can conveniently pick up their order on the same day or at their preferred time or date.
Though BOPUS can bring many benefits to your online shopping experience, you also need appropriate resources to launch it successfully. You’ll need a physical pickup location, an online shopping experience, and a real-time inventory management system.
While it may take time to get your logistics together, the benefits you reap will be worth it in the end.
How will you utilize BOPUS for your digital brand?