What is BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store)?
BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) is a business model that allows consumers to shop and place orders online and then pick up their purchases in the brick-and-mortar store, often within the same day. BOPIS, sometimes referred to as click-and-collect, is a part of the larger multichannel shopping trend, which allows customers to merge online, in-store and mobile channels to make purchases.
BOPIS allows consumers to combine the ease and convenience of online shopping with the speed, security and added convenience of picking up their order in-store. It also allows retailers to reshape their customer experience and adapt it to the current digital and mobile era, thus attracting shoppers to their physical stores and opening up the opportunity to make additional sales, strengthen customer engagement and increase brand loyalty. This is especially important as online retailers gain greater dominance within their markets, taking customers and sales away from brick-and-mortar operations.
How does BOPIS work?
BOPIS is built on the concept that a customer can include the following:
- scroll through a company's website;
- see what is available at each store location in real time;
- place desired items in the shopping cart;
- complete the purchase online; and
- pick everything up in the physical store.
Packages will often be stored at the customer service desk or in a designated location for in-store pickups. For many retailers, the largest challenge in this business model is reducing the time it takes to process orders, select items and package everything for pickup.
At a minimum, the BOPIS business model requires a retailer to build real-time inventory visibility for each specific location so customers can have a constantly updated view of what's currently available. However, as the BOPIS trend has grown, many stores have reorganized their layouts to better handle the surge of online orders and to accommodate curbside pickup service -- a benefit retailers have added to their BOPIS plans. The BOPIS business model may also require companies to improve their inventory and supply chain management to guarantee the rapid fulfillment of orders.
There are several ways in which retailers can improve the BOPIS experience for their customers, which including the following:
- using augmented reality apps, such as the Ikea Place app, which allows customers to virtually see how a piece of furniture will look in their homes through their smartphone cameras;
- providing personalized offers and content, such as discounts and offers, to encourage additional purchases;
- offering COPUS -- or customize online, pick up in-store -- to further enhance the personalization of the customer's experience; and
- using geolocation, perimeter sensors and mobile apps to sense when a customer is nearby and provide relevant offers or messages, such as a deal that pops up for a tutorial from a staff member on a product the customer is just arriving to pick up.
What customers want from BOPIS
The BOPIS business model is an attempt to fulfill a variety of customer desires in order to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Consumers who choose BOPIS acknowledge that they do not want to be stuck waiting for a package without a set delivery time. Instead, they want the following:
- to be able to see and hold merchandise before taking it home;
- the speed and convenience of having the purchase ready and waiting at the counter;
- to avoid shipping costs;
- the ability to more easily browse through all merchandise;
- the chance to buy products that quickly run out of stock;
- 24/7 access to product information; and
- the ability to pick up the product whenever it is convenient for them.
Benefits of BOPIS
BOPIS has a huge impact on increasing in-store purchases for brick-and-mortar retailers. It provides business with a new way to engage, interact and influence buyer behaviors while also offering consumers a combination of online and in-store experiences.
Other benefits for retailers include the following:
- reduced operational costs;
- a competitive edge against online retailers;
- a chance to bring customers to the physical store who would otherwise shop entirely online;
- an opportunity to generate additional purchases by bringing the customer to the physical store;
- multiple touchpoints and ways for businesses to interact with consumers, both online and in-store;
- increased incentive for customers to visit the physical store so they can see the product they want is in fact there; and
- the chance to stand out to customers by providing an experience that is convenient, personal and memorable, thus fostering brand loyalty.
Additional benefits for consumers include the following:
- the ability to take as much or as little time as needed during the purchasing process;
- instant gratification through the ability to almost immediately pick up a purchase in-store, and not have to wait for a package to be delivered;
- easier return processes;
- prevention of package theft since deliveries are not being left unattended on shoppers' porches;
- the ability to view and inspect the purchase in-store before taking it home increases customer satisfaction;
- eliminates shipping fees;
- decreases the time customers have to spend shopping in-store; and
- guarantees customers that the item they need is available before they go to the store, thus decreasing frustration.
Examples of BOPIS
The BOPIS business model continues to become more and more popular as all types of retailers continue to implement the service. Various large organizations have chosen to implement BOPIS, including Walmart, Amazon and Target.
Walmart's BOPIS approach
Walmart offers Pickup Towers and Lockers in its stores that stow orders for customers until they are ready to pick them up. The retail corporation also offers curbside pickup for ultimate convenience, ease and the ability to pick up orders 24 hours a day at available locations. Furthermore, they encourage their customers to utilize the BOPIS services by offering discounts on BOPIS orders and piloting programs that would allow EBT cardholders to participate in BOPIS services.
Amazon's BOPIS approach
Amazon has joined the BOPIS trend by launching its own BOPIS service with pickup sites around the U.S. Furthermore, its purchase of Whole Foods -- the American multinational supermarket chain -- allowed the company to place pickup sites and Amazon Lockers in every Whole Foods grocery store across the country.
Target's BOPIS approach
Target offers two-hour pickup in many of its stores and has implemented a curbside pickup option. In addition, Target opened 20,000-square-foot stores on college campuses across the U.S. These small stores let college students shop for all their necessary school and dormitory room supplies online and then pick them up in-store on campus, potentially weeks later. These on-campus stores can benefit college students and their families as they eliminate the need to move large amounts of items or visit furniture stores near their schools.
Editor's note: This article was written by Kate Brush in 2019. TechTarget editors revised it in 2022 to improve the reader experience.