In theory, it sounds simple. Your customers place an order online, but prefer to pick it up in a local store rather than wait and pay for delivery. The reality, though, is that the execution of buy online/pickup in store (BOPIS) is often fraught with challenges.

However challenging it might be, retailers must get BOPIS right during the holiday season. Why? It’s a key element (but by far not the only one) for delivering the unified online-to-offline commerce experience consumers demand. For starters, it provides retailers, particularly those with a large store network, with a key advantage over pure online players. Additionally, consumers demand choices and flexibility at all stages of the buying process, especially for fulfillment.

Retailers need to be very clear in all aspects of communication related to BOPIS. And it needs to start even before the order is placed.

Before the order 

Your shoppers should know as early as possible that picking up in store is an option. Your site must include the following:

  • An FAQ on how BOPIS works (preferably integrated into Product Detail Pages in a pop-up/modal window).
  • What online products are available to pick up in store; this should be stated on the Product Detail Page.
  • An option to choose which store to pick up merchandise.
  • An option to change from traditional shipping to BOPIS in the checkout funnel.
  • An option to choose a notification method (text message, email) to alert the buyer when the merchandise is ready for pick up.
  • An incentive for picking up in store such as a small discount, a free gift, or 10% off the next order.

After the order 

It’s incumbent upon you to set the initial expectation that an order will not be ready for pickup in store the moment the shopper hits the buy button. To ensure a smooth experience for your shoppers:

  • Give them an update with the status of their order and provide an ETA on when it will be available for pickup.
  • Make sure the customer receives an alert when the order is ready.
  • Make sure the customer knows exactly how and where to collect the order, including what identification they need to pick it up.
  • Provide the address and directions to the store, including links to maps, phone numbers, and store hours.

In the store 

Part of the reason that BOPIS has fallen short is that stores are not set up to service online shoppers. When an online order comes in, who is responsible for fetching it from inventory? Do those associates abandon in-store shoppers to fill online orders? Where do online shoppers pick up their order? Should they expect to wait in line with in-store shoppers? Here’s what we suggest, and what we know works. Stores:

  • Need to have trained and available staff ready to process online orders.
  • Should have a dedicated area for online pickup, with clear signage near the store entrance.
  • Should not make online shoppers join a catch-all customer service line.
  • Should consider curbside pickup, or short-term dedicated parking spaces, for online shoppers.

For Pier 1 Imports, BOPIS provides an important link between the store and ecommerce. In fact, about 25% of ecommerce sales are from a device within a store, and another 25% of online sales are BOPIS.

Technical considerations 

  • Ensure that Safety Stock values are added to each item inventory by store to ensure that BOPIS orders are fulfilled and not canceled.
  • Turn off BOPIS during high traffic days such as Black Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays to avoid inventory discrepancies between offline and online.
  • If possible, set up order thresholds to manage order volume being sent to each store.

This and much more is covered in our 2017 Guide to Holiday Readiness. Download it today!