When BOPIS and Curbside Pickup Create Havoc

Retailers are banking on online purchase, in-store collection (BOPIS), and roadside collection to save the day this holiday season. In fact, eMarketer’s latest survey shows that BOPIS sales in the US may increase 60% year over year because it is a contactless shopping experience.

In fact, more retailers seem to have adopted these services as part of their omnichannel strategy. Industry experts assume that 90% of stationary retailers will offer BOPIS by 2021. Two in three ecommerce shoppers have already tried BOPIS programs and are likely to do so again to avoid shipping costs and ensure their immediacy and convenience needs. As these services become more popular, customers will invariably face challenges and friction.

A recent survey of buyers who have previously used BOPIS programs explains the appeal: 49% said they chose BOPIS because it was a faster option than delivery, while 44% said it was a cheaper option for the shipping was, while 7% were dealing with delivery problems in residential areas.

Thanks to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the only prediction that everyone will agree with is that more ecommerce shoppers will join this holiday season as people continue to dodge risk of exposure to the virus. According to surveys, more than 60% of people plan to shop exclusively online this season. Will brick and mortar retailers be able to adapt in a timely manner and provide vacation shoppers with a seamless experience?

To be honest, not all retailers will be able to provide adequate customer service with BOPIS or a roadside service, although more people are being hired. A recent report found that nearly 47% of retailers are struggling to attract seasonal workers, despite offering competitive incentives like bonuses, premium payments, and higher employee discounts.

Depending on how a retailer’s pickup system is set up, customers may have to wait in long lines that are also designed to assist customers with returns and other customer service issues. Other stores may lack the signage and staff training necessary to enable a BOPIS buyer to quickly and easily find their pickup destination. While we are seeing some larger retailers getting creative with using self-service lockers for BOPIS orders, most retailers will not be able to accommodate this type of arrangement in time for the holiday season.

Retailers offer smart incentives for in-store pickup, but setting up and implementing these new processes in the backend continues to be a challenge for many. However, there is a solution to this problem that is convenient for customers: They use a 3PL (Third Party Logistics) solution to ensure a seamless customer experience while managing existing inventory.

With 3PLs, retailers can prevent a lost sale (e.g. if a customer fails to pick up an order) by giving customers the option to convert a BOPIS and / or curb order into a same or next day home delivery. Last mile home delivery is an effective solution for retailers who want to keep the mood lit amid a flurry of seasonal activity hampered by pandemic restrictions.

Adding home delivery to BOPIS not only provides convenience for the holiday season, it also strengthens retail brand messages that will continue after the holidays are over. A recent study found that 30% of Millennial and 25% of Gen Z customers choose to buy online and in-store pickup. So when you add the option to turn a BOPIS or curb order into a seamless home delivery solution, you increase customer satisfaction and increase sales. And with 60% of Gen Z shoppers already aware of eco-friendly shipping options, the role of packaging and last mile delivery will be a topic of discussion for retailers for years to come.

With that in mind, here are the top three things retailers can take to prepare for this rapidly approaching holiday season:

Stop losing sales to competitors offering BOPIS and roadside collection by providing total convenience to your customers. Expand your own BOPIS service with the ability to pick up your product without ever leaving your home.

Find a logistics partner who bridges the gap between BOPIS and roadside collection for you so that seasonal employees can focus on customer service in the store without the distraction.

Take advantage of this type of partnership as soon as possible. The holiday season is followed by the inevitable “return season,” and that’s not something you would want to experience on your own. Familiarize yourself with these supply chain solutions so that you and all your staff are prepared for whatever is to come in 2021.

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