Enhance BOPIS Operations With Expanded Fulfillment Options
Automated, Self-Service Solutions Can Handle
Rising Order Volumes, Higher Customer Expectations
Even though both shoppers and retailers have exhibited widespread enthusiasm for BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store), many are realizing that some of the initial deployments of these services are not meeting customer expectations.
Many retailers tend to overstate the efficiency
of their fulfillment strategies in this area.
— Bill Hardgrave, SVP and Provost at Auburn University
There’s a strong desire to move to the next generation of BOPIS solutions. One of the key elements of “BOPIS 2.0” will be the adoption by retailers of advanced fulfillment options, like automated locker solutions, that address the key challenges of managing increased BOPIS volume and ever-expanding customer expectations.
Why BOPIS Must Evolve
With the rise of e-Commerce, retailers have embraced BOPIS. The 2018
Store Operations Survey revealed that 64%
of retailers offer BOPIS, and 63% offer BORIS (buy online, return in store) services. BOPIS meets consumers’ desire for near-instant gratification, and it allows retailers to differentiate themselves from Amazon by leveraging their brick-and-mortar store footprint.
However, stores that have rolled out a BOPIS option soon found themselves
facing a looming question: how to handle fulfillment. Larger retailers began their programs by having omnichannel customers go to the service desk, where a clerk would check the stockroom for the shipped item. Smaller outlets had sales associates leave the floor to look for products.
As the practice grew, the store’s customer service desk evolved into a full-time BOPIS department with dedicated staff. And some outlets have had success with buy online/curbside-pick-up, offering customers the opportunity to text when they reach the parking lot and have their purchases brought to them by an associate.
But some cracks have developed in the thriving BOPIS bubble.
Stock areas tend to be relatively small, with inventory packed into nearly every available square inch to maximize the sales floor and use it to showcase products. Add in a busy BOPIS department to the stockroom, and you have a recipe for lost or misplaced orders, inefficient inventory control and poor customer satisfaction.
Inventory control and in-store technology were highlighted as key elements for a successful BOPIS program in a recent Radial and NAPCO Research survey of retailers, which is no surprise. Highly accurate inventory monitoring allows the retailer to confidently notify customers when their order is ready for pickup. A system that doesn’t account for real-time changes in store inventory may be unable to keep up with a sudden influx of BOPIS customers.
Retailers need to keep their BOPIS departments well-staffed to ensure an associate is available to quickly greet the customer, locate their item and complete their order. The customer who has to wait for an item they’ve already purchased is generally unhappy.
According to Radial and NAPCO Research, retailers with successful BOPIS operations report that the two biggest challenges they face are the speed needed to get a BOPIS order ready for pickup and the space needed to store those orders before the customer walks in. Indeed, the biggest issue for retailers hasn’t been creating demand for BOPIS. The problem has been executing it seamlessly.
How Fresh Fulfillment Options Can Help
Consumers generally choose BOPIS because they don't want to pay a shipping charge and/or because going to the store is relatively easy. Their expectation is that they will get their order sooner than if they shipped the item to their home (BOPIS orders generally are fulfilled the same day) and that pick-up will be fast, allowing them to enter the store, get their product(s) and leave.
To meet the needs of these convenience-oriented customers, retailers may want to consider how automated locker systems can fit into their plans. By positioning automated lockers close to an entrance, retailers can address a BOPIS customer’s immediate need: fast pickup.
4 Steps To Fulfillment Via Automated Lockers
The customer goes to the locker.
The customer scans a bar code on their mobile device from the delivery message they received.
A locker door pops open.
The customer takes their package.
Top 5 Additional Uses For Automated Lockers
Automated locker systems create a simple, seamless way to enable
buy online, return in-store, or BORIS. Customers return a product to the locker
and their account is quickly credited for the transaction.
Automated lockers can be used as staging points for courier delivery.
Agents can arrive at the locker and pick up their entire delivery route
from those lockers, increasing the speed of last-mile delivery.
Repair Drop-Off And Pickup
Customers taking products in for repair don't need to worry
about the establishment's hours of operation. They can drop off a pair
of shoes that need new soles in an automated locker on the way to
work, then pick them up after a dinner engagement.
Store-To-Store Inventory Transfers
Using automated lockers for store-to-store inventory transfers saves
time and paperwork, taking pressure off the service department
and at the same time creating a record of the transfer.
The buy online, pick up local (BOPUL) trend (also called pick up,
drop-off, or PUDO) is becoming more prevalent. A store installs an
open-access shipping point locker system, and its consumers can use it
as their address to receive goods from any e-Commerce retailer. This
also drives traffic into the store that may not have walked in before.
Where To Find Additional Sales Opportunities
Another plus created by BOPIS is the opportunity for additional sales. A recent OrderDynamics survey of online consumers found that 37% of those picking up an order in-store made another purchase when they walked in.
Some retailers have tried to enhance impulse buys by locating BOPIS departments toward the back of the store, but more are seeing this as a hindrance to customer satisfaction because of the “long” walk. Creating a high-quality, fast consumer experience with BOPIS is increasingly seen as an asset to building customer loyalty.
This is where the addition of automated lockers to a retailer’s BOPIS arsenal can create another opportunity for improved customer experience. It reduces last-mile shipping costs, brings the customer inside where incremental purchases can be made, and the pick up in-store option at check-out gives the consumer another reason to click buy.
Conclusion: Putting It All Together
When it comes to BOPIS, doing it the way it was done at startup won’t help a retailer establish a competitive advantage. By embracing new ideas for fulfillment, such as automated locker systems, retailers can leave customers more satisfied and potentially increase revenue.
Learn more about how automated locker solutions can streamline BOPIS fulfillment.
In some cases lockers can be installed outside the store to allow customers true 24/7 access to their purchases, thereby extending the store hours.
Retailers are likely to experience multiple benefits from the variety of use cases that automated locker systems enable. As BOPIS becomes more of a self-service option with
the introduction of automated lockers,
sales associates can be assigned to other higher-value tasks within the store. BOPIS packages are easily stored in the lockers,
which helps keep stockrooms neat and efficient. Additionally, lockers’ high visibility
will likely lead to more usage. Customers
who see others collecting merchandise from lockers are likely to try this option next time.
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