From BOPUS to MOPUS: What the Rise of In-Store Pickup Means for Retail
How can retailers with brick-and-mortar stores compete in the age of Amazon? Increasingly, Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPUS)—sometimes abbreviated BOPUIS or BOPIS—has become a compelling answer to this all-important question, and a way that retailers can fight back.
Retailers can no longer rely on selling products to consumers—who increasingly see going to the store as an inconvenience, not a fun thing to do in their free time, and certainly not a necessity. Instead, leaders in the industry are racing to reinvent themselves as providers of seamless, omnichannel experiences that unite the best of both digital commerce and in-store shopping. BOPUS (also known as “click and collect”) fits perfectly into this strategy, and gives retailers a chance to try for add-on or coattail sales whenever shoppers go to stores or malls to pick up their purchases.
BOPUS, MOPUS & COPUS: Retail Uses Data, BOPUS to Revitalize In-store CX, Revenue
Essentially, BOPUS is an opportunity for retailers to ask the equivalent of “Would you like fries with that?” And now, with AI-powered marketing technology (martech), retail businesses can figure out what’s likely to motivate each individual shopper to make a detour or pick up something extra on their way to or from their pickup locations. In addition, retailers can use omnichannel personalization to extend tailored offers and incentives to close extra sales.
Top U.S. grocery retailers nearly doubled the number of locations offering in-store pickup in 2018 alone. And it’s led to success: Walmart and Kroger, in particular, have seen a leap in their online grocery sales, making them the top two digital grocery retailers behind Amazon. This trend puts pressure on other retailers to keep pace, as customers come to see BOPUS as a normal part of the shopping experience.
For certain, BOPUS responds to consumers’ desire for faster, more convenient transactions that match their mobile, digital-first lifestyles. But BOPUS may become even more powerful (and profitable) when retailers integrate it into a larger effort to provide more deeply personalized interactions with customers across all channels. The right approach to customer data and analytics is key to making all of this work.
Why Is BOPUS so Important for Retailers?
First, BOPUS offers a way for brick-and-mortar retailers to attract customers who might otherwise shop purely online. Shoppers love the option of picking up their online purchases at the store: 44 percent of global shoppers say it’s their favorite aspect of retail shopping, according to iVend’s 2019 Global Shopper Survey.
Better yet, BOPUS leads to more in-store sales: 37 percent of BOPUS shoppers reportedly buy items they didn’t plan to purchase when they pick up their items—and “superconsumers” buy even more. BOPUS also meshes well with the growing push by giants such as Walmart and Target to embrace the concept of “ship from store” (SFS), turning their stores into fulfillment hubs for digital commerce. By giving consumers more buying options and developing the infrastructure to support those options, BOPUS can be seen as a strategy that opens doors to new retail possibilities.
Above all, BOPUS helps reshape the retail customer experience for a digital, mobile era. With the convenience of in-store pickup as a lure, retailers can craft customer journeys that attract online customers into physical stores. Retailers can then use this opportunity to make further sales, deepen customer engagement and provide interactions that keep shoppers coming back for more.
Why Do Customers Use BOPUS?
Consumers have their own reasons for choosing BOPUS. The top ones, according to iVend, are to avoid shipping charges (47 percent), to save time by not having to shop in-store (44 percent), and to pick up purchases on the same day (39 percent).
In addition, shoppers like being able to guarantee that an item is in stock before going to the store (38 percent) and to take their time when deciding what to purchase (38 percent). Finally, some consumers appreciate the ease of product returns (21 percent).
Meanwhile, consumers want choices beyond picking up products at the register: 63 percent want to try curbside pickup, 56 percent want to try delivery to the trunks of their cars and 50 percent want to try picking up purchases from a locker, according to the National Retail Federation’s most recent Winter Consumer View. Curbside pickup, especially, is undergoing explosive growth, with Walmart now offering this option at more than 2,000 stores and counting.
Beware—Speed Trap Ahead!
Speed, ease, and convenience are key to satisfying customers who choose BOPUS. But these are harder to provide than they may seem, and pitfalls await retailers on their way to BOPUS nirvana.
When ordering online, shoppers demand a streamlined, intuitive experience on all of their devices. They need to see which stores have which products in stock, and this information needs to be accurate. Shoppers also expect their purchases to be ready for pickup quickly, even if some items have to be shipped from elsewhere.
And once they get to the store, customers expect picking up their purchases to be quick and easy. But what if they arrive to find long lines and slow checkouts? Or boxes are piling up on the curb and parking is difficult? Or what if a customer discovers something wrong with an item, but struggles to find a knowledgeable staff member who can help? For retailers, it’s crucial to optimize the pickup process and keep such complaints at bay.
For many companies, the biggest challenge may be to reduce the time required to process, select and package items for pickup. In the United States, retailers take 41.6 hours on average to fulfill a BOPUS order, according to a 2018 survey by eMarketer. That’s a long wait for shoppers who often have goods delivered to their homes in 24 hours or less.
Personalization Can Enhance the BOPUS Experience—and Vice Versa
In short, BOPUS only works if retailers can deliver on its promise of simple, intuitive, hassle-free transactions. But that’s only half of the equation.
BOPUS, by its nature, engages customers in multiple interactions with a retailer across multiple touchpoints from beginning to end. This presents an exceptional opportunity for marketing, sales and engagement both online and in stores. And it gives retailers a chance to differentiate themselves by delivering an experience that is not only convenient, but also personal and memorable.
Such personalized experiences could make use of various channels and tactics, depending on the retailer. Here are some possibilities to consider.
Augmented reality apps: Augmented reality (AR) can bring a touch of the in-store experience to online ordering, enabling customers to test products before they buy. The Ikea Place app, for instance, gives customers a 3D view of how furniture will look in their home through their smartphone cameras. This can not only increase conversions, but also reduce returns and boost customers’ overall satisfaction with the items they pick up from the store, building customer loyalty. And Walmart’s LEGO kiosks now let shoppers scan the QR codes on different LEGO kits, then point their phones at the shop floor, to see how those individual kits would look and work once assembled.
Personalized offers and content: As mentioned, many BOPUS customers end up buying more items than planned when they go to the store for pickup. Retailers can encourage such additional purchases by delivering discounts, promotions, or content via mobile apps, email, or text.
Such messages are likely to be most persuasive if they’re targeted to each person’s individual shopping behavior, attributes, and preferences. A customer who orders a new grill could receive a personalized cross-sell offer for related accessories. Or a customer with a certain behavioral profile who buys a new coffee table might get style tips and ideas for furnishing a living room.
BOPUS offers an excellent chance for a store’s staff to engage directly with shoppers who pick up their orders. The goal of such interactions is to build personal relationships and add value to the in-store experience—for instance, by offering advice, how-to instructions, recommendations, or additional services tailored to individual customers.
Retailers such as PARCO already use perimeter sensors and mobile apps to detect when shoppers are nearby and send them relevant messaging and offers. PARCO also enriches individual shopping experiences by offering chances to play different mobile games, many of which have a “scavenger-hunt” component that incentivizes shoppers for visiting PARCO stores within the mall. Such geolocation techniques could also pair well with other approaches such as clienteling. For example, a store’s automated systems could detect when a specific customer is about to arrive to pick up a purchase. A smartphone notification could then invite him or her to receive an in-store tutorial from a staff member on how to use the product.
COPUS (Customize Online, Pick Up in Store):
Personalized products are taking off as a way for companies to respond to the demand for ever more personal customer experiences. Yankee Candle, to cite just one example, enables online shoppers to pick their candle’s type, fragrance, and design, and add a personal message before placing their orders. For many different types of products, such online customization could combine with in-store pickup for a powerful double dose of personalization and convenience.
Apparel and footwear, too, is increasingly manufactured to fit and to please a specific person. For example, Indochino and Shoes of Prey were among the first to publicly talk about their ability to custom-manufacture. The personalization of products can go a long way to integrating BOPUS into a memorable, unique customer experience. However, the right data, analytics, and marketing automation is needed to make this work.
Best-in-class personalization requires predictive analytics that can guide real-time decisions about targeting individual customers on digital channels. Likewise, in-store staff are better able to provide personalized service at BOPUS pickup points if they have access to the right data and analytics on individual customers—such as shopping histories, wish lists, product recommendations, and even birthdays. To orchestrate all this, retailers need advanced technologies (such as a customer data platform, or CDP) to generate unified, real-time profiles of shoppers and provide actionable insights about their behavior.
If BOPUS Is the Future, How Can Retailers Get It Right?
BOPUS is already transforming retail and customers’ expectations. Some industry giants, such as Walmart and Nordstrom, are rolling out small, stripped-down locations exclusively as hubs for in-store or curbside pickup. This may become a new norm as the retail world shifts away from traditional in-store shopping and toward truly omnichannel experiences. At the same time, BOPUS may drive an accelerating embrace of artificial intelligence and in-store robotics to manage inventory, speed up fulfillment, and make pickups more efficient.
New versions of the strategy could alter the landscape even further. For example, we could see the rise of MOPUS (Manufacture Online, Pick Up in Store), with shoppers ordering bespoke, on-demand products that are manufactured at the point of pickup. Such an approach is easily imaginable with advances in 3D printing, machine learning, and automation (such as automated sewing machines, or sewbots)—and could take BOPUS to a new level of convenience and personalization.
Whatever the future holds, the trends driving BOPUS are likely to move in one direction: toward more convenient, intuitive, personalized customer journeys. And retailers entering this race will need the technical capabilities to deliver the high-quality interactions shoppers expect.
At a minimum, BOPUS requires building real-time inventory visibility, so every customer has a complete, up-to-date view of what items are available at which locations. It may also mean reorganizing stores to handle surges in online orders and redesigning facilities to handle services such as curbside pickup. And it may mean improving inventory management and supply chains to ensure speedy fulfillment at store locations.
Meanwhile, retailers planning to develop truly individualized, personalized customer experiences will need to develop a deep, data-driven view of individual shoppers and their behavior, using tools such as CDPs and advanced analytics. The better you know and understand your customers through data, the more you’ll be able to make BOPUS a winning strategy.
For more on retail trends, download the TotalRetail 2019 Retail Technology Report: An Analysis of Trends, Buying Behaviors and Future Opportunities.