Why BOPIS And How eCommerce Competes

By:
Rakuten Super Logistics
Oct 24, 2019

Just when it seemed eCommerce had addressed every aspect of the customer delivery experience, a new shopping trend is emerging. eCommerce customers can receive same-day shipping and low shipping costs, but for some, there was still something missing. BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store) is gaining traction as over 30% of online sales are now picked up in-store. What is driving consumers to forego the ease of front-door delivery to pick up the products themselves?

The "click and collect" method may offer consumers an extra sense of control. Features like no shipping costs and availability within the hour bolster the growing trend. BOPIS offers brick-and-mortar stores a way to compete with eCommerce sites and reduces their shipping costs. BOPIS sales increased by 47% last holiday season, signaling that the trend may stick around. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the BOPIS method, and how eCommerce retailers can compete.

PROS of BOPIS

1. NO SHIPPING FEES

Customers already compare prices when purchasing products, and often compare shipping fees as well. Amazon began offering same-day delivery and very inexpensive or free shipping, forcing others to follow suit. But not every eCommerce business can afford to offer what the largest ones can provide. BOPIS gets the products in the hands of the customer with no shipping fees at all. Brick-and-mortar stores also benefit from this method in that it's cheaper for them to have everything delivered to their store.  

HOW ECOMMERCE RETAILERS COMPETE:

Promote frequent sales, and offer free and affordable shipping when possible. Offering shipping cost reductions for larger purchases is a great way to increase your sales and incentivize customers to buy from you.

2. IMMEDIATE AVAILABILITY

Sometimes consumers need something immediately, and BOPIS offers that option. Whether it's a last-minute birthday gift or a medical need, some purchases can't wait until tomorrow. BOPIS means not only same-day availability, but often availability within the hour. Customers frequently abandon their online carts due to slow shipping times and go pick up the items themselves.

HOW ECOMMERCE RETAILERS COMPETE:

Same-day delivery is a great way to compete, assuming your business can offer it. Also, research which products customers are willing to wait for and promote those through your marketing. Some purchases require a mulling over, so offer those products at competitive prices. Consider stocking hard-to-find products that aren't available to pickup in store. While customers might prefer certain products immediately, if it's not available to buy in store, you'll be the resource they turn to.

3. TANGIBLE EXPERIENCE

While customers could previously check store inventory online, it wasn't always accurate. Sometimes another shopper has moved the product to the wrong aisle, or purchased the product right before the buyer arrives. BOPIS provides the shopper with tangible results- meaning the item is procured and waiting for them before they arrive. They can also hold it in their hands, and look at it in person to decide if it's what they wanted. If not, they can quickly make a return, without having to deal with return shipping.

HOW ECOMMERCE RETAILERS COMPETE:

Thorough communication is the key here- send an email when the item is purchased, the payment is processed, and the shipment has left the warehouse. Let shoppers know when the product will arrive and use reputable shipping companies who will follow through. Offer clear and easy methods for return, such as return shipping labels in the package. If customers know they can easily make a return, they'll be more inclined to buy from you. Offering expedited shipping or free returns will also generate customer trust and loyalty.

CONS:

1. ONLY BENEFITS BIG BOX STORES

The BOPIS model only works if the brick-and-mortar store is within 15 miles of a broad base of consumers. While some buyers are willing to make the drive, they still need it to be convenient. Smaller stores that are further away lose the BOPIS appeal. Only stores of this magnitude receive enough shipments to facilitate same-day availability. Smaller businesses may only stock one of each item, and can't guarantee inventory.

HOW ECOMMERCE COMPETES:

eCommerce sites run the gamut from 1 to 1 million products. Many sites offer products that aren't available in big box stores. Promote those harder to find items, and offer them with quick delivery. Specialty products and luxury items often can't be found in big box stores.

2. MORE TIME CONSUMING

Not only do consumers have to get in their cars, make the drive, and fight possible traffic, they also have to stand in line once they get there. While the item may be available quickly, the process of obtaining it often is not. Waiting a bit longer for an item to arrive is often more palatable than the in-store shopping experience, especially during the holidays.

HOW ECOMMERCE COMPETES:

eCommerce takes all the hassle away from the product delivery process. At the touch of a button, a product can arrive at your home with no time or effort involved. Furthermore, the ability to track your purchase and seek assistance or provide feedback assures a smooth transaction. Consumers are constantly on the go and ecommerce gives them a rest.

3. REDUCES PRIVACY AND COMFORT

Some products are best tested in the comfort of your home. Whether it's a new swimsuit, a sports bra, a medication, or self-help guide, all consumers make personal purchases. Picking them up in-store removes that barrier of privacy between the buyer and the seller. Buyers want to know that they can buy certain items without judgment or visibility in a crowded store.

HOW ECOMMERCE COMPETES:

Direct to consumer delivery is ideal for more personal items. Buyers like to try on clothing and test out products in the comfort of their home. Checking an outfit from all angles in the mirror or reading the warnings of a medication are personal moments, and eCommerce affords buyers that. Keep stock of inventory that buyers prefer delivered to their home to keep up with the BOPIS trend.  

CONCLUSION

BOPIS is a growing trend, but it is specific to certain sectors. While buyers like to avoid shipping fees and have instant access, it doesn't work across all retail markets. Many customers still prefer to avoid the hassle of in-store pickup, even if it costs a small fee. Big box stores stand to gain the most from BOPIS transactions, while many smaller stores can't offer that option. eCommerce sellers can compete with the trend by offering discounted shipping, simple returns and products not available or desirable as a BOPIS option.