BOPIS is here to stay, here’s what retailers need to consider now

By now, we know that BOPIS is a critical service for retailers that also offers a safe and convenient shopping option for consumers.

In fact, according to a poll from the NRF, half of all consumers have used BOPIS as a result of COVID-19. During 2020, in the face of a public health emergency, retailers needed an intuitive solution that delivered a sense of security. And they needed it immediately. BOPIS became the go-to solution to help ease shoppers’ concerns.

BOPIS usage saw 259% growth from August 2020 compared to the previous year. But for retailers who didn’t already have the functionality in place, deploying a BOPIS solution quickly without any major technical hurdles proved to be difficult.

Looking ahead, BOPIS will only continue to grow this year and beyond. In response, retailers need to ensure that they properly implement this capability not just as a temporary solution, but a permanent long-term fixture. Now is the time to identify best practices that will lay a foundation for a successful, integrated program. Nine in 10 retailers plan to implement BOPIS this year, signaling its importance in the years to come.

Streamline omnichannel customer experiences

BOPIS services combine the online and in-store experience for customers. As a result, retailers must bridge the gap between physical and online channels to drive a seamless omnichannel experience. To achieve this, all communication, offline and online, should be branded and consistent across all touchpoints. Retailers should give consideration to communication like mobile apps and email, and designated parking spots and signs in the store.

In addition, making a BOPIS solution easy to use provides an added level of convenience. Shoppers should have the ability to quickly order products from any location. Then, when they’re alerted that their order is ready, instructions should be clear in explaining the pickup process.

Optimize inventory and fulfillment speeds

BOPIS order management requires more than just consumer-facing features. To fulfill BOPIS orders, retailers must designate and train associates who can focus on picking and packing items as quickly and efficiently as possible. This requires equipping them with technology that suggests the fastest route for each order.

An accurate, real-time view of inventory is also critical. With unpredictable shopping patterns creating spikes in demand on certain items, the ability to note unavailable or substituted products will keep consumers happy.

Ensure BOPIS programs are future-proof

As BOPIS continues to mature, so, too will its list of integrations and features as consumer expectation changes. As a result, the best approach for retailers without a BOPIS option is to deploy the core features of a robust solution as soon as possible.

In addition, retailers must ensure their solution that has potential to grow and evolve. For example, can it integrate new features such as loyalty or targeted promotions? BOPIS solutions should also consider functionalities like accommodating the use of dark stores, efficiently managing returns and adding personalized recommendations while retailers shop to simulate in-store impulse buying.

The ability for BOPIS to grow and evolve requires a flexible solution that offers all of the central capabilities now, and the ability to quickly add integrations later. This is essential to ensure BOPIS program is future-proof.

Key considerations for now and the future

Fortunately, there are options available now to ensure seamless, rapid BOPIS deployment. To enjoy the benefits without the headache of a long deployment, retailers can opt for a solution that provides fundamental benefits without complete integration to all existing store systems. This allows retailers to take advantage of BOPIS and its immediate use, while also planning for future integrations to ensure its success for the years to come.

Eddie Deyo is VP of software development, GK Software USA.

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