Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Buy Online, Return in Store (BORIS) - Store merchandise

Why you should be paying attention to buy online return in store (BORIS)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard the term “omnichannel” before. It’s a way to expand your business, letting customers shop your inventory online or in-store. Giving consumers this opportunity to shop how they want can increase sales, creating a crossover between online and in-store shopping. 

Omnichannel offerings can also solve customer pain points. One of the biggest pain points for customers is returns. The return process is overwhelming—from returning online orders to navigating a retailer's return policy, customers don't want to deal with this hassle. So in this article, we’ll take a look at an omnichannel solution—Buy Online, Return in Store, commonly known as BORIS. To start, let’s take a look at what BORIS is and how it can help your business.

What is BORIS and what are the benefits?

BORIS stands for Buy Online, Return in Store. It’s a strategy that allows customers to buy a product online at your ecommerce site and then return or exchange the product at a dropoff point or brick and mortar store. This helps streamline the customer’s return process. An easy return process creates repeat customers. In fact, one of the biggest customer objections to repeat purchases is a business’s return process and 92% of consumers said that they’d make a repeat purchase from a business if their return process was easy to navigate. 

That’s a huge opportunity for small businesses like yours to garner repeat customers. On the flip side, a difficult return process is sure to drive customers away from your business because they won’t want to deal with the hassle of a return.

To illustrate this process, let’s take a look at an example. Let’s assume your business is Joe’s Sporting Goods. In addition to an ecommerce store, you have a few brick and mortar stores. A customer of yours, Frank, makes an online purchase from your ecommerce site. When his baseball glove comes in, it’s the wrong color. Normally, it would frustrate Frank to go through an online return process. But, luckily, Frank knows that Joe's Sporting Goods offers BORIS.

So instead of shipping it back to you and having to wait five or more business days for Joe's to process a return, Frank brings the glove to your physical store. Because the original tags are still on the product and he has the packing slip and original receipt, you’re able to refund the original purchase method or give him an exchange for the color he originally wanted. Instead of losing his business because of the hassle of returning his online order, your business still retains Frank as a customer. Frank leaves your store happy that he could  exchange the glove for a different color and didn’t have to pay shipping fees to return it to you.

Now that you know the basics of BORIS, let’s list out the benefits for your business: 

Higher levels of customer satisfaction

As we’ve talked about, one of the most significant friction points for customers is the return payment process. By offering BORIS as an option for customers, your business can increase customer satisfaction. Not only will customers feel like they can order online with less hassle down the road, but they’ll also shop with confidence, knowing that they’ll be able to get their money back when they use BORIS. 

Without BORIS, customers would have to wait until after they ship the item back to the business and then wait for the business to process the return. This process could take a few days to a few weeks. However, returning items in-store lets customers start the return process right away, getting a full refund on their credit card or a gift card for the purchase price.

Repeat business

Another benefit is repeat business. A seamless return experience invites customers to give your business another chance. Your business will also benefit from BORIS, as your business will be able to retain some of the revenue from customers who simply want to return their goods for a different color or size. A difficult return process can cause your business to miss out on that revenue. But making it simple for customers to return items can help you retain possible lost revenue.

Save on shipping

In today’s ecommerce environment, many customers expect businesses to offer free shipping,  even free return shipping. On one hand, it’s a tough ask to make customers pay for return shipping after disliking their order. However, paying for shipping both ways can eat into your business’s bottom line. Luckily, BORIS can reduce these costs by offering customers a free way to return items. It’s a win-win: you keep your customers happy while also saving money on shipping costs. Customers don't have to worry about printing off return shipping labels and you both don't have to worry about who pays for the return label.

Higher in-store sales

Another benefit of offering BORIS to customers is the possibility of increasing your in-store sales. When customers return their goods in-store, it’s an opportunity for your business to help them find the right product. Training your employees to turn a return into an opportunity is key— listening to customers and helping them to find a replacement or other complimentary item. A great in-store experience can also build strong customer relationships. The more time a customer spends in your store, the more likely they’ll purchase goods from your business.

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the benefits of BORIS for your business, we’ll discuss the two different types of BORIS.

Traditional BORIS vs. Omnichannel BORIS

When it comes to BORIS, there are two different types— traditional BORIS vs omnichannel BORIS. Let’s compare these two to help you decide what’s right for your business.

Traditional Buy Online, Return in Store

With this type of BORIS, a customer returns the item in its original packaging for a full refund or exchange. However, a retailer can’t  look deeper to find out more about this customer. This is because they’re using a legacy point of sale (POS) system that lacks the capability to show insights about the customer, such as their purchasing history, browsing history, current wishlists, etc.

Omnichannel Buy Online, Return in Store

This type of BORIS connects the customer’s online experience to their in-store experience. Using mobile clienteling tools, sales associates can get a snapshot view of customers, empowering them to make personalized recommendations and cross-sell to the customer making the return. This technology makes it easy to see the customer’s browsing and purchase history, so associates can make better recommendations to customers, increasing your business’s bottom line and building customer loyalty in the process.

As you can see, the omnichannel BORIS strategy is a more effective and personalized option for customers and your business. It connects the customer to your business while providing your business with the best picture of your customer. We’ve talked about the best BORIS strategy for your business. Now, let’s talk about how to implement BORIS.

Setting up a BORIS strategy at your business

You’ve decided  to implement BORIS in your business. That’s a great decision, as your business will reap the benefits of this omnichannel strategy. But now you’re wondering what steps your business needs to take for a successful implementation. Here are a few ways you can implement a successful BORIS strategy at your business.

Set up a dedicated area for in-store returns

One of the best strategies for BORIS is to maintain a separate area specifically for returns. Depending on your business, it may be a good idea to hold a separate POS system to only process returns. This can streamline the process for customers and staff. You’ll also want to ensure  that your in-store signage helps direct customers to this area.

Behind the scenes, you’ll want to prep other areas for a possible increase in in-store returns. This might mean you need to allocate more storage space for returns and revisit your processes to ensure that any merchandise you accept as a return can circulate back into your inventory.

Ensure real-time inventory visibility

Another important key to success in implementing a BORIS strategy is to be sure you have a view of your inventory in real time to make strategic decisions about where the returned inventory needs to go.. If you have multiple stores, the real-time inventory will give you insight into whether a returned item needs to be restocked on the shelf at the current location or if it needs to be transferred to another store location or shipped back to a warehouse.

Buy Online, Return in Store is a great way for your business to start expanding your omnichannel presence. It’s a win-win for your business and your customers. For your business, it can help you cut costs while retaining customers. And for your customers, it can remove the headache of shipping returns and build loyalty with your brand. When it comes to attracting and retaining customers, their experience is paramount. Providing a customer-first, customized experience can help your small business stand out from the big box retailers. One good interaction with a brand can make a customer a customer for life. 

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