We’ve dedicated this month to teach you everything you need to know about “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store,” or “BOPIS” for short. For retailers and grocers, it represents an opportunity to gain back some of the market shares they lost to eCommerce in the recent tech boom. 

The premise is simple. BOPIS provides a clear value proposition with plenty to offer early adopters. With that said, as with any innovation, it also comes with a whole new set of challenges which brick and mortar stores must recognize. 

We’ve listed out some of the main issues with BOPIS facing the Grocery and Retail sectors blow:

Inventory Availability

For a smaller store, the concept isn’t too hard to wrap your head around: Purchase a product on the website, and come into the store to pick it up. 

Generally speaking, businesses with fewer locations tend to have much of the inventory that’s listed online also available in store. With larger companies with many locations and a broad spectrum of offerings, however, it may be a different story. Products are often stored away in offsite distribution centers awaiting shipment. Stores also often vary in size and space available to hold products onsite. As a result, there are often inconsistencies in offerings when visiting from one location to the next. 

BOPIS is all about convenience to the customer, and not having the inventory immediately available has proven to be quite the handcuff for many organizations looking to adopt this new way of doing business just yet.

Long Lines

One of the central tenants of BOPIS is providing the consumer with an experience that’s more convenient than taking their business to traditional eCommerce. 

Part of the attractiveness of in-store pickup is the ability to get in and out of the store quickly. Because this is still fairly new in the adoption cycle, many stores haven’t quite figured out how to run their current operations while also fulfilling orders quickly and efficiently. This has led to long lines and frustrated customers. Conversely, hiring dedicated staff just to help alleviate the holdup would incur additional expenses for the business. 

BOPIS is a double-edged sword, and few grocers or retailers have been able to figure out a good balance to address this issue yet.

Poor Communication

Sure, when you’re on your laptop at home, the concept seems simple enough – buy the product you want, and then come into the store to pick it up. In reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that. 

For decades, stores have practiced and perfected the art of drawing foot traffic to specific areas in the building – an ingenious way to maximize visitor conversion. With BOPIS, however, not everyone walking through those doors wants to be drawn into a consumer journey. In fact, most people just want to get in and out. Shops have done a poor job of communicating where in-store pickups will be occurring, and what online customers have to do to finalize their purchase when they arrive. 

Without the right communication and clear signage, many buyers have made the mistake of going into regular checkout lines, waiting in the queue for however much time, and then being turned away by the clerk and sent over to the correct area of the store only to have to wait in line again. 

Is BOPIS the Way of the Future?

There is still a lot that needs to be shored up when it comes to BOPIS. Retailers and Grocers alike are working hard to cut down on the pitfalls, but the truth of the matter is that there is still a lot of work to be done here. Finding ways to mitigate these issues before adopting BOPIS at your store will prove highly useful as you work towards improving your customer experience. 

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