Retailers, why you need to consider buy online, pick up (BOPIS)

Posted on September 11, 2019 by Michael Benarroch

Retailers, why you need to consider buy online, pick up (BOPIS)

Posted on September 11, 2019 by Michael Benarroch

BOPIS is one path to driving value and people to brick and mortar locations. Don’t get left behind.

These are strange times for the retail industry. Consumer spending is high, which in any previous decade would mean that the retail sector is doing great.

But many aspects of retail today aren’t exactly doing great. For many brick-and-mortar retailers, these are challenging days. Retail is reporting ever-declining sales by quarter. Bankruptcies and restructuring are announced with uncomfortable frequency. And for every bankruptcy that reaches the industry news, countless regional chains go under.

It’s not all bad news, of course. There are plenty of success stories in brick-and-mortar retail, and we don’t see signs of that changing anytime soon. 

So you have to ask, what’s the difference, then, between retail that’s on the decline and retail that’s succeeding, even thriving?

Most of the companies that are seeing results are doing so by focusing on core brand plays and by continuing to drive the retail experience. One of the key ways retailers are doing so is by combining their digital and real-world sales experiences with innovations like buy online, pick up in-store, or BOPIS.

The bottom line: if you’re not implementing BOPIS, you’re getting left behind.

BOPIS isn’t just for the national chains.

Even if you’ve not heard the term, you’ve certainly seen the concept implemented and some of the largest chains. Walmart was one of the first big retail chains to embrace this concept with its mobile ordering and pickup service. Their massive footprint (not to mention budget) gave them the power to implement this relatively early in some markets, and the service’s rapid expansion shows how successful it’s been for the company.

It’s almost 2020 and winning tactics from the last decade will not carry you into the next.

Consider the grocery industry. Years ago grocers had 3 competitors: corner stores, other grocers, and restaurants. And in this world as long as you beat the other grocers (either on price, product, or service), you were doing just fine.

But today, grocers compete on all sorts of new fronts. Some consumers are spending their grocery dollars on meal delivery kits (think HelloFresh) as well as farm sharing programs like CSAs. Takeout restaurants have only grown in popularity, fast-casual is now a thing, and Uber Eats can bring a restaurant meal right to the customer’s front door – not to mention the elephant in the room; Amazon.

The game has changed. So have the threats. If your tactics look like they did in the past you’re losing sales to these new categories of competitors. You need modern, appealing tactics like BOPIS to compete. 

With BOPIS, shoppers can skip the time and hassle of selecting their own items, which makes buying traditional groceries far more appealing (not to mention more competitive against the upstarts).

Implement BOPIS or get left behind.

Right now, BOPIS is seen as a perk. It’s a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Implementing it before your peers gives you a leg up, certainly.

But here’s the kicker. As successful as it’s been, it’s not going to stay a niche offering or a mere nice perk. BOPIS will be everywhere, soon. And you don’t want to be the last among your peers to this party.

How do we know? Look at what happened to the retail chains that were late to adopt e-commerce. This is one of the reasons given for the demise of Toys ’R’ Us. By the time they realized they’d made a mistake in discounting the importance of e-commerce, they couldn’t catch up.

Make BOPIS work for your environment with these strategies.

By now you should be convinced that you need to offer BOPIS. Now we’ll show you how to do it well.

The Ultra-Convenient Parking Lot Approach: Walmart’s earliest grocery pickup service looked like this. Shoppers ordered online, and groceries were loaded into their vehicle in the parking lot. This method is extremely convenient, but it doesn’t physically draw customers into your store. We only recommend this method if add-on sales are uncommon or unlikely in your industry.

The “Draw Them In” Approach: In contrast to the previous method, this approach relies on a common-sense principle: people are more likely to spend when they come in. Yes, they’re only coming in to pick up their order, but stepping inside may jog their memory about other items they need. And consider that the pickup experience doesn’t have to be a dull, long lineup.  Leading retailers like Canadian Tire are leveraging fast and automated processes to make pickup quick, easy, and fun (

The Candy Corridor Approach: Place your pickup area somewhere strategic and surround it with meaningful experiences and sales opportunities. It’s the modern equivalent of candy at the registers. The difference is you’re working to add on real value (and real sales), not just candy (and parental frustration).

Of course, whatever your approach, be sure your pickup area is clearly marked, is near the front of the store, and is appropriately staffed. You don’t want customers waiting around, confused about what to do. You want to make this a great experience so that the customer forms a new shopping habit—at your store.

What’s next?

Finding synergies between your online platform and your physical retail stores is such an essential part of successful modern retail. If you haven’t started doing this yet, what are you waiting for?

The most crucial place to start is to implement BOPIS and to implement it well. You can do so by implementing whichever ideas discussed above will work for your specific business and your customers.

Of course, implementing BOPIS usually requires at least a minimal refreshing of your brick-and-mortar space. If you’re ready to jump in, give us a call at 905-264-0917 or contact us. We’re happy to help you determine what makes sense in your space and execute an effective BOPIS-friendly space refresh.