BOPIS, Local Delivery Keys to Retail Survival
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has threatened or closed many “nonessential” businesses, the question for brick-and-mortar retailers is simple: “How do I keep my store operating?” Simply offering programs such as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) or local delivery options can keep the doors open and the business alive.
BOPIS and home delivery are booming as consumers around the world adjust their shopping habits during the health and economic crisis. For shoppers, the programs shorten the time spent in stores and malls and reduce the chance of catching and spreading the virus.
Retail Dive reported March 17 that Instacart (218%), Walmart Grocery (160%) and Shipt (124%) saw average daily download increases over compared to the previous month. Target also saw a 98% increase over February totals.
When businesses can hook shoppers looking to avoid brick-and-mortar crowds with products offered on their websites and land them – coax them to buy and pick up their purchases – it keeps a business running and can lead to additional sales. Think about it. How often do shoppers visit a store to pick up one or two items and wind up filling a shopping bag or cart? A recent My Total Retail survey shows that 68% of shoppers have made multiple BOPIS, also known as click-and-collect, purchases. The survey also shows that 85% of those shoppers made additional purchases when picking up their orders.
Those shoppers have used a related program, BORIS (buy online, return in-store) extensively, too. Kohl’s has taken advantage of that strategy. The company, struggling like most of the industry a few years ago, decided to make its department stores Amazon return centers. The move boosted foot traffic by nearly 24% in the first three weeks.
The move toward using BOPIS was already trending before the COVID-19 virus began sweeping the globe and changing shopping patterns. Year-over-year growth of BOPIS was up 28% in February and 18% in January, according to Adobe Analytics.
Using Tech to BOPIS
In order to implement BOPIS, retailers need a comprehensive and cohesive sales process which today is called “omnichannel.” That buzzword describes a store’s online and in-store sales efforts being intimately linked and functioning in tandem. And to use another popular phrase, that trend is “trending” in the retail industry. The My Total Retail survey shows that 61% of retailers say BOPIS and omnichannel plans and investments are at the top of their list.
A study by Periscope Data, a San Francisco-based data mining company, found that 78% of U.S. retailers don’t have a unified shopping experience. The businesses involved say that a lack of cross-channel analytics (67%) is the culprit, while 45% blame poor data quality, and another 45% claim they don’t have the ability to identify or recognize shoppers across all their channels.
“If predicting how COVID-19 will spread is hard, then anticipating the best retail response might be even harder. To the extent that an online retailer thinks that the concern will continue and spread, then they should consider increasing stocks of consumables and moving them closer to where they can be delivered or easily picked up.”
Bridging the Online, Offline Gap
Comprehensive retail platforms are the heart of omnichannel sales providing a single touchpoint for managing all store functions including online and in-store inventory and sales, as well as delivery scheduling and tracking.
Years ago, Staples brilliantly marketed a big red “Easy” button which ostensibly could solve any office problem with a single push. While they’re not quite that easy, comprehensive retail platforms give businesses centralized management to control the whole operation, even if there are multiple locations, and they make inventory control, sales, delivery, BOPIS, customer loyalty, and all the other programs possible.
“Stores need to embrace new ideas and all technology offers. Merchants need to create a strong and cohesive digital image for their stores including customer loyalty programs, geofencing marketing efforts, automated customer satisfaction surveys, mobile-friendly eCommerce customer portals, digital advertising, and strong, secure in-store Wi-Fi,” says Dan Nesmith, president of Paladin Data Corporation, which develops and provides digital business platforms. “Consumers expect more from merchants today. Due in part to the evolution of retail, which now offers more personalized choices from e-commerce companies, shoppers want similar features from their neighborhood stores.
“What we offer are tools that help retail businesses simplify their operations through automation. It lets them make more money through precise inventory management and automating time-consuming retail operations. Our mobile tools and integrations simplify online and in-store purchasing, inventory management and delivery.”
Adoption of BOPIS and BORIS and the rest by retailers is expected to increase from around 40% in 2017 to approximately 81% by 2024.
Ways to use BOPIS
There is a myriad of ways to institute BOPIS. Once your online and in-store inventory management and sales are intimately linked you can:
Create the ultimate customer convenience. Walmart has put a lot of effort and cash into building its BOPIS into a curbside pickup program. In fact, the 2020 Super Bowl debuted the company’s BOPIS advertising. Consumers simply purchase online, drive up to Walmart’s Pickup parking, and store associates deliver orders right to the vehicles. As mentioned earlier, the use of curbside pickup and local delivery apps and services has skyrocketed as COVID-19 keeps consumers away from brick-and-mortar stores.
Create upselling and collateral sales. Other companies eschewed ultimate customer curbside convenience and instead ask shoppers to come into their stores in hopes of gaining peripheral sales. The report “The Rise of the Click and Collect Superconsumer” shows that 85% of shoppers who buy online and pick up their items in a store make additional purchases during pick up and spend an average of $40 more on those items.
Bring in web surfers. Stores can gain new customers by enhancing their web presence by placing products in local online searches. From 2015 to 2017, online searches for products “near me” increased by 500%. With 80% of retail sales still occurring inside brick-and-mortar stores, impatient consumers are obviously starting their shopping trips online and finishing them in stores. Applications such as Pointy, which place a store’s products into local online searches create more sales both online and in-store.
“If predicting how COVID-19 will spread is hard, then anticipating the best retail response might be even harder,” Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights, tells Retail TouchPoints. “To the extent that an online retailer thinks that the concern will continue and spread, then they should consider increasing stocks of consumables and moving them closer to where they can be delivered or easily picked up. If more people are working from home, dealing with kids home from school, or just practicing social distancing, they will need more household goods that either can be quickly delivered or that are easily accessible nearby with a minimum of human interaction.”
Delivering the Goods
Home delivery is another trending retail service that can keep a business working. As state governments work to curb coronavirus, businesses of all kinds are turning to delivery to keep the cash registers working. As governors across the country have asked “nonessential” businesses to voluntarily close and have limited the size of public gatherings, many retail businesses are improvising to stay afloat and delivering their goods is one of the most popular avenues.
Restaurants that have never offered anything other than dine-in service are now delivering. In Oregon, microbreweries are offering food and beer to go. In fact, the Oregon Brewer Guild has created and regularly updates a list of breweries continuing to operate during the crisis. The New York Post reports that Drizly’s, a liquor delivery service, posted its largest day ever in sales on March 15.
Pennlive reports that a comic books store, Comix Connection in Hampden Township, is taking call-in orders that can be picked up at the store – a little different kind of BOPIS. Other retailers are following suit.
Meanwhile, most large retail businesses are closing up shop. American Eagle, Apple, Bath& Body Works, Calvin Klein, Chico’s, White House Black Market, Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW, Foot Locker and many others are temporarily closing their stores.
Others are seeking designation as “essential” businesses. The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) urged the nation’s lawmakers and decision–makers to deem hardware stores as essential to public health. And many listened. Hardware stores were exempted from closure orders in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and others.
If you need to find a way to keep the cash registers ringing and your business running during the health and economic crisis, using strategies like BOPIS and local delivery can keep a business alive.