‘BOPIS’, the lat­est sur­vival tool for Brick-and-Mor­tar Stores

The most prom­i­nent re­tail trend in the past few years is the rise of omni-chan­nel shop­ping, where con­sumers no longer dis­tin­guish be­tween buy­ing in a store and buy­ing on­line. While brick-and-mor­tar stores con­tinue to be threat­ened by on­line shop­ping, even

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The most prom­i­nent re­tail trend in the past few years is the rise of omni-chan­nel shop­ping, where con­sumers no longer dis­tin­guish be­tween buy­ing in a store and buy­ing on­line.

By in­te­grat­ing on­line and phys­i­cal shop­ping stores, for whom many re­tail an­a­lysts had pre­dicted doom with the ad­vent of dig­i­tal con­ve­nience, this has emerged as an as­set rather than a li­a­bil­ity. The new re­tail ‘mantra’ has not only im­pacted the phys­i­cal stores, but also posed a chal­lenge for com­pa­nies that sell en­tirely on­line, com­pelling them to shift strat­egy, in re­sponse to con­sumer de­sire for more flex­i­ble shop­ping op­tions. The phe­nom­e­non, pi­o­neered by Wal­mart and Best Buy about seven years ago, is now be­ing adopted across the in­dus­try. “It’s huge,” says Lee Peter­son, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent with re­tail con­sul­tant WD Part­ners Inc, adding, “It’s a big part of e-com­merce for re­tail­ers going for­ward, and a great way to com­pete with the on­line in­va­sion…”

Many of these changes will af­fect the way re­tail­ers man­age their sup­ply chains. Brands that un­der­stand both the power of dig­i­tal and hu­man psy­chol­ogy will be the win­ners, as they see dig­i­tal as a means, not an end. These smart re­tail­ers/brands are adopt­ing their busi­ness mod­els and in­te­grat­ing them­selves deeply into the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, so they are there wher­ever you need them, whether it is ly­ing in bed or walk­ing down the street – that is what many an­a­lysts are call­ing ‘The Blur’. In, The Blur, the di­chotomy of on­line and off­line no longer ex­ists, be­cause the phys­i­cal world is aug­mented and en­hanced by dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties. In-store pickup is help­ful to brickand-mor­tar re­tail­ers in a num­ber of ways. In a re­cent study by JDA (JDA Soft­ware is the lead­ing sup­ply chain provider pow­er­ing to­day’s dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion), hav­ing cus­tomers pickup their on­line or­ders them­selves also solves the pesky and ex­pen­sive chal­lenge of last-mile de­liv­ery. The find­ings of the sur­vey are very in­ter­est­ing; of the re­spon­dents that use buy-on­line-pickup-in-store ser­vices, 40% ‘some­times’ made ad­di­tional pur­chases in-store. In fact, re­turns are also driv­ing traf­fic. Some 44% (over 10% more than last year) are mak­ing re­turns from on­line or­ders in store, with more than 30% do­ing so to avoid the has­sle of re­turn de­liv­er­ies, and 17% say­ing they thought they’d re­ceive their re­fund or ex­change more quickly.

“Our 2017 Con­sumer Sur­vey high­lights the chang­ing role of re­tail stores,” Jim Pre­witt, Vice Pres­i­dent of re­tail in­dus­try strat­egy at JDA, said in a state­ment. “While there has been spec­u­la­tion of a ‘re­tail apoc­a­lypse’, that doesn’t seem to hold true for con­sumers. No longer the only chan­nel for shop­ping,

brick-and-mor­tar stores are still a key cor­ner­stone for a quick and easy shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence and the fa­cil­i­ta­tor for pop­u­lar ful­fil­ment op­tions, like BOPIS and buy-on­line-re­turn-in-store (BORIS).”

How­ever, the po­ten­tial risk of going wrong is also high. About half of cus­tomers that chose a BOPIS op­tion ex­pe­ri­ence prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent For­tune re­port. Such an ex­pe­ri­ence can be de­cep­tively pos­i­tive to a busi­ness, as sales fig­ures may in­crease be­cause prod­ucts have al­ready been pur­chased. But while the sales num­bers might look good, a bad ex­pe­ri­ence could hurt re­peat busi­ness and gen­er­ally lower sat­is­fac­tion. Re­tail­ers, who of­fer BOPIS, must track the en­tire cus­tomer jour­ney to iden­tify po­ten­tial is­sues and prob­lems.

Snags in BOPIS ser­vices are as­so­ci­ated with mis­man­aged staffing, JDA found. Nearly a quar­ter (23%) said store staff took a long time or were un­able to find the shop­per’s or­der, and 16% said there were no ded­i­cated staff for BOPIS pur­chases, a sit­u­a­tion largely un­changed from last year, JDA said. Tar­get and Wal­mart are among re­tail­ers ded­i­cat­ing staff and ar­eas for in-store pickup. JDA also found 80% of cus­tomers sur­veyed want in­cen­tives to make that pickup trip, which in­tro­duces other com­pli­ca­tions. Many re­tail­ers (in­clud­ing Wal­mart, which in April be­gan of­fer­ing a “Pickup Dis­count” on about 10,000 items), are of­fer­ing or test­ing sim­i­lar en­cour­age­ments.

Moody’s In­vestors Ser­vice also be­lieves in the po­ten­tial of en­cour­ag­ing shop­pers to pickup from the stores. Moody’s lead re­tail an­a­lyst Char­lie O’Shea praised Wal­mart’s BOPIS-re­lated dis­count, say­ing that it’s “an­other ex­am­ple of a re­tailer lev­er­ag­ing its phys­i­cal stores to pro­vide con­sumers with more op­tions to re­ceive on­line or­ders quickly.” There may be many prob­lems in ac­tual im­ple­men­ta­tion, but BOPIS is here to stay and ev­ery­one in the sup­ply chain needs to pre­pare for the model with bet­ter tech­nol­ogy and more re­spon­sive ser­vice.

An ad­ver­tise­ment by Pure Denim an­nounc­ing the in-store pickup fa­cil­ity

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