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Is buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) the future of retail?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What BOPIS is and how it is changing retail permanently for customers and retailers

As ease, accessibility, and convenience soar in value for the customer experience with retailers, companies have had to consider alternative ways to meet customer expectations while maintaining high order fulfillment levels. The Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS) option attracts online shoppers to a pickup location within physical stores, bringing business inside the store while still offering easy checkout options for customers.

The growth of BOPIS has been astounding as curbside pickup, online pickup, and online shopping have offered a new retail strategy for companies during the pandemic. By the end of 2021, it is estimated that 90% of retailers were offering the BOPIS model as a delivery option for their customer base. Based on respondents' high satisfaction with order pickups and an increased retail experience, it seems that BOPIS was optimized through the pandemic and is here to stay within the retail industry.

What is BOPIS?

BOPIS is a feature that retailers can offer customers to utilize when shopping online. The method involves a customer placing an online order through an ecommerce platform and selecting the closest retail store to pick up their order from. Instead of battling crowds or concerns with the pandemic within a storefront location, customers can choose the products they would like from an online store, comfortably knowing they can pick them up in minutes at an easily accessible location nearby.

From the retail perspective, retailers are learning how to transform the expectations and functions with brick and mortar stores. Instead of being the primary location of business, BOPIS promotes an omnichannel approach where customers can purchase goods the way that works best for them. For the business owner, BOPIS promotes flexibility for the customer while still maintaining foot traffic at the retailer's location.

With more options for purchasing goods, customers have more autonomy in the retail experience.

How does BOPIS work?

  1. Customers buy online, whether using a website, online store, or mobile app. With a strong online presence, retailers can promote BOPIS on the heading or main part of their website. This way, customers can see this delivery option even before checking out or choosing the items they would like to purchase. As customers shop online, they will be able to quickly see what products are available with store inventory and the expected time needed to complete the order. Once an order is paid, the selected retail location will receive a notification containing pertinent order information.
  2. The store fulfills the online order. Once order data is processed, store associates can compile and prepare the order for pick up. Once the order is ready, the customer will be notified that the order is available for pick up, specifically from the identified store pickup location at that retail site. Some companies have customers pick up their goods from the customer service desk or have a desk specific to BOPIS orders. At other retailers, lockers have been designed for customers to access their goods through the use of a customer-specific code.
  3. The customer picks up the order. One of the primary benefits of BOPIS is the ease that customers can retrieve their goods while still engaging with the mortar location of the retailer. Using POS technology, store associates can quickly match the products with the customer picking up the order, perhaps through an order number or QR code. Perhaps as they walk into the storefront, they realize they need an additional item that they can purchase on-site. Customers can then move along with their day, confident that BOPIS offers a streamlined option for purchasing goods and necessities.

Basic necessities needed to offer BOPIS

As a retailer offering BOPIS within their customer experience, it is necessary that you have the basic components to deliver this model to their customer base effectively.

The most important needs for BOPIS to operate effectively are:

  1. A website or mobile app for ordering. Whether an app or via a website, ecommerce platforms provide an easy way for customers to complete their shopping needs. The most important element for BOPIS to work well for your customers and your operational workflows is an identified process for ordering products. The website or mobile app should promote the BOPIS option towards customers, offering certain discounts or incentives for utilizing the service. Moreover, the online storefront should provide a visually appealing and ease of seeing what products are available and what retail locations are options for pick up. The BOPIS option is straightforward.
  2. At least in brick-and-mortar locations. Your website or mobile app will need to offer at least one retail location where customers can finish the cycle of BOPIS by picking up their orders. Ideally, retailers are able to provide multiple location options so that customers can select the location that is most convenient to them.
  3. Real-time inventory capabilities. As customers explore your online storefront and submit orders, the back-end of your website or mobile app technology will need to incorporate inventory management in real-time. Whether using a virtual terminal or POS, many systems offer inventory capabilities. Using a live inventory system will support the benefits of BOPIS so that customers know what they can purchase and what inventory is available to them. From the retailer’s perspective, inventory management helps your company track ongoing product orders and trends so that your business can meet customer demand.

Why BOPIS matters for retailers and customers alike

  • It's here to stay. BOPIS options at retailers have supported the maintenance of existing customers at businesses while also attracting new customers that would have considered a different retail option if not for the convenience of buying online and picking up in store. According to recent trends and statistics, 56% of shoppers plan to continue to use BOPIS -- even after the pandemic ends.
  • No shipping fees to ensure customer purchases and completion of transactions. Online shopping isn't new, but the advent of BOPIS has helped customers who may leave unpurchased items in their online shopping carts. Transactions are more likely to convert when shipping fees are no longer a problem; 65% of surveyed shoppers used BOPIS to avoid or circumvent shipping fees altogether. Retailers can worry less about shipping costs from distribution centers when they are buying products in bulk to be serviced out of a local retail location.
  • In-stock insurance. Companies can provide a 100% guarantee the item that they have selected is available in-store. If it isn't, customers can have access to refunds and substitutions for when a product is not available. This helps maintain a commitment to the BOPIS model and encourages store associates, managers, and business leaders to provide the highest level of customer service even when much of the customer interactions occur remotely.
  • Quicker service. BOPIS offers a way for customers to get the products they want without the hassle of searching in aisles on-site. BOPIS customers know what they want: speed and accuracy. Moreover, as BOPIS customers adapt and enjoy the benefits of the service model, they will be more likely to return, ensuring customer loyalty for the retailer.
  • Extra purchases from customers. Once in-store, foot traffic enables new opportunities for the retailer to market to the customer while they pick up their items. As such, orders may be picked up along with new purchases made while visiting the storefront.
  • Better inventory management. When customers can purchase online, retailers can track trends and better predict analytics on what products are most desirable to customers in a given area. As such, business leaders and managers can ensure more regular inventory management, regular orders, and increased customer satisfaction when they can buy what they would like in real-time.

Are you ready to consider the BOPIS model for your business? Are you ready to fuse customer expectations with business optimization?

Heartland is ready to help. Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at