You’ve probably already heard of buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and its implications for the retail industry. Though the idea of ordering items online and picking them up in the store isn’t exactly “new” anymore, BOPIS is evolving alongside emerging trends and technology.

Here’s a closer look at why BOPIS is a proven sales-booster for retailers, and what steps to take to make it work for your business.

BOPIS is a win-win for consumers and retailers

BOPIS has become an increasingly popular service among US consumers —  68% of them have used BOPIS multiple times, and half have decided which retailer to buy from based on BOPIS availability. Because of the risk of package damage, theft, and loss, it’s a safer way to collect purchases. Plus, customers can avoid wandering the store looking for items and standing in checkout lines. 

But the primary draw for customers is affordability and speed. Nearly 65% of online shoppers use BOPIS to avoid shipping costs, and 37% use it to get their orders faster. 

And for retailers, BOPIS gives brick-and-mortar stores a competitive advantage against online-only sellers (even giants like Amazon). Not only does it bring foot traffic to the store, it also encourages shoppers to buy more. Most BOPIS buyers (85%) purchase extra items when picking up their orders. And since those items aren’t being shipped to the customer’s door, retailers spare the expensive cost of last-mile logistics. 

The trailblazers of in-store pickup

So far, about a fourth of retailers are taking advantage of BOPIS. But by 2024, 90% of retailers are expected to adopt this game-changing sales and savings strategy. Retailers that are already winning with store pickup have customer-centric strategies. And Walmart and Target, the current leaders in BOPIS, have set the bar high by implementing automated pickup. 

Walmart started offering in-store pickup back in 2007. But back then, picking up orders was a lengthy process that required customers to go to the back of the store and wait for a customer service representative. As retail technologies evolved, the company improved its inventory system and omnichannel strategies. Now, Walmart uses self-service pickup towers and lockers in its stores. With the user-friendly towers, package pickup takes seconds and doesn’t require staff assistance.

Other retailers like Nordstrom and Tractor Supply discovered the power of BOPIS more recently. Nordstrom has already seen increases in sales and store traffic, even in its smallest spaces, and it’s created an easy way for customers to return their online orders without mailing them. 

And since Tractor Supply launched its BOPIS service, the company fulfills 70% of its online orders from its stores. Tractor Supply found that BOPIS is especially popular among rural communities, which don’t always have fast and cost-effective shipping options available.

Steps to a successful strategy

To create an experience that keeps BOPIS customers coming back, make sure there’s a backbone in place to support BOPIS in your store — and always work to improve. Here are some areas to focus on in the planning process:

  • Survey your customers about what they like to see in a BOPIS service, and continue to monitor what they like and dislike about it once it’s implemented.
  • An ongoing challenge for many retailers implementing BOPIS is unreliable inventory. So before taking your first pickup order, it’s a good idea to implement an accurate inventory system that’s in sync with your online ordering platform. 
  • Consider the layout of the store, inside and out. You may want to reserve a few parking spaces near the store entrance for pickup orders. Inside, designate an area to house BOPIS orders, preferably near the front of the store where it will be easily visible and accessible for customers. And don’t forget signage to guide them to the pickup location!
  • Communication with customers is critical to the success of BOPIS. Think about how you will notify them when orders are ready and what devices they’ll be using to view those notifications. Include clear instructions for the pickup process so they know what to expect. 
  • Train employees on how to manage, fulfill, and troubleshoot BOPIS orders. 
  • Create a plan to to keep orders and customer information secure. 
  • Install physical infrastructure, like lockers, to keep shoppers from waiting in line for their online orders. Smart lockers keep BOPIS orders secure and allow customers to complete pickup without standing in line or interrupting staff. 

Take a look at how Smiota’s smart package lockers integrate with existing store systems, speed up the pickup process, and please customers.