What Is BOPIS in Retail Sales? (With Benefits and Tips)
Updated February 3, 2023
Ecommerce, or online purchasing, allows customers to purchase and receive goods using a computer or other device. BOPIS, or buying online and picking up in store, combines ecommerce with traditional retail practices. If you're a retail employee, learning about BOPIS can help you implement and use these systems to improve customer experiences and increase revenue.
In this article, we define BOPIS, explain why stores use this practice, describe the components of a BOPIS system, list some key benefits of using these systems and share tips for implementing BOPIS practices in a retail setting.
What is BOPIS?
BOPIS is a sales method in which customers search a company website for a product, purchase it online and then retrieve the item at the store or a selected branch. BOPIS is a blend of ecommerce sales and traditional storefront sales. Some stores allow customers to use BOPIS systems through their website, and larger companies might have proprietary apps that allow customers to purchase goods for pickup on their phone.
Why do stores use BOPIS?
A retail store might use the BOPIS system to advertise their online services during the holiday season to reduce customer lines and wait times. Some retail stores use BOPIS to minimize foot traffic and reduce the need for extra employees.
In chain stores, BOPIS gives customers the opportunity to find specific products at other branches. For example, a customer might want a pair of sneakers in a special color variant. By using the BOPIS system for a large chain store, the customer can determine which locations have the shoe they want in stock.
What does BOPIS include?
Here are the major components that work together to create a BOPIS experience:
Point of sale software
Stores use BOPIS with specialized POS, or point of sale, software. POS software allows retail store customers to purchase an item online. The purchase removes the item from the POS system's inventory memory and adds the funds to the store account. Once the customer places an order, a notification reaches the store, where employees find and hold the item for the customer.
To fulfill customer orders, sales associates might use the existing inventory at their location. For stores that use this method, customers might see several pickup locations on the sales page, allowing them to choose where they want to go to get the item.
Other stores might use a centralized inventory warehouse for BOPIS orders. In this method, warehouse employees receive a list of items requested for pickup at a specific store. They package the items in a van or truck and deliver them to the specified store locations.
Stores that offer BOPIS services typically have a special desk or department where customers can request their items. In some stores, a retail sales associate staffs the desk. They verify customers' identities and use the customer receipt to find the correct item.
Other stores use an automated locker system. This method allows customers to pick up their items anytime. When a customer requests an item for pickup, a store associate places it in a locker and seals it with a special code. The customer receives the code via email or text and uses it to open the locker.
Related: What Is a Brick-and-Mortar Store?
Benefits of using BOPIS
Here are some ways that using a BOPIS system can benefit stores and their employees:
Improved customer experience
Retail customers typically don't wait in long lines when using the BOPIS system. Often, the store devotes a cash register lane or the customer service desk to fulfilling BOPIS orders, so customers avoid lines at other registers during busy store hours. When customers can get their items quickly, they might have a better shopping experience, which can encourage them to make repeat purchases or to recommend the store to friends and family.
More efficient operations
Using a BOPIS system reduces the amount of time customer service associates spend helping each customer since many customers prefer to purchase online and pick up without interacting with employees. Using a locker system further reduces the sales associates' checkout tasks, and BOPIS systems often include online returns tools, so customers can quickly return items.
This allows sales associates to focus on serving customers who need help, responding to complaints, issuing refunds and restocking shelves. BOPIS systems allow stores to increase sales without adding more tasks to employees' job duties.
Expanded revenue potential
Buying items online can make the retail experience more accessible for some customers, expanding the company's customer base. This helps bring new customers to the store and can expand the company's profits as more customers buy online.
BOPIS can be a great addition to retail chains with multiple storefronts because it helps expand the store's network and product options. Customers can order online from a store across their state and pick up their item at a local branch, saving time and shipping costs for both the company and the buyer.
Improved branding and marketing
With the addition of BOPIS services, retailers may find that their marketing campaigns are more compelling for customers. Ads that include a BOPIS option typically showcase convenience and customer service, which can inspire customers to action. This message can be especially effective for stores that market to busy people, like grocery stores.
The ability to choose products at home and pick them up quickly can appeal to working parents and other customers with little free time. Adding BOPIS services can make a store competitive in a saturated market because it distinguishes them from other stores.
Tips for using BOPIS in a retail setting
If you're a retail manager or associate, these tips can help you maximize the effectiveness of a BOPIS system:
Communicate with customers
Before you introduce a BOPIS system to customers, consider creating an announcement or digital newsletter detailing the change. Include details about how the systems works, the link to the company website and the store phone number.
Prepare for customer questions with frequently asked questions or a fact sheet about the process. Communicating with your customers helps reduce confusion about the system and can help ensure a smooth launch day for the BOPIS system.
Designate store space for pick-ups
A BOPIS kiosk or self-serve shelving can make the process more efficient for customers. Consider dedicating a space in your store for BOPIS orders. A self-serve shelf is a popular choice in many food service establishments and allows customers to walk in and collect their items without stopping at a register.
Include signage at the doors or in the store to help direct BOPIS customers to the kiosk. You may also dedicate some staff hours to the BOPIS desk or kiosk to help with any service issues.
Related: Retail Work: The Definitive Guide
Consider mobile-friendly ordering
Many internet users access the web through mobile phones or other devices. Having a mobile app or mobile-friendly website can help ensure customers can access the BOPIS system regardless of the device they're using.
Improving accessibility can help attract new customers and improve current customer loyalty. Consider hiring a development firm to create a custom mobile application that customers can use to place orders for BOPIS purposes.
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