Years ago, shopping used to be a completely different experience.
Major shopping events like Black Friday were huge deals on par with major holidays, and frequent sales events would find stores full to bursting with customers eager to take advantage of them.
Fighting the crowds and showing up early to get the best possible selection was actually part of the fun.
But now that the world has gone digital, things have changed. The wonders of the internet and mobile technology make it possible for people to browse to their hearts’ content from the comfort of their own homes.
Just a few clicks later, and whatever they want is on its way to their front door, usually within a day or two, thanks to ultra-fast shipping — all without ever having to set foot inside an actual store.
However, the increasing appeal of online shopping is leaving traditional retailers scrambling for viable ways to compete and entice customers through their physical doors.
Offering a handy “buy online, pick up in-store” (or BOPUS) option via their digital marketing efforts is one way to do this.
Here’s a closer look at how it works and what the benefits are to modern businesses like yours.
What is ‘Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store” (BOPUS)?
“Buy online, pick up in-store,” or BOPUS, is a business model that seeks to offer today’s consumers the best of both worlds — the convenience of remote shopping plus the hands-on experience of in-person shopping.
It’s part of a movement toward multichannel shopping that’s become increasingly trendy lately.
Retailers interested in adopting a BOPUS model maintain a continuously updated display of their current inventory that interested customers can browse online at their convenience.
The customer selects the items they want and completes their purchase online. Later, they travel to the associated brick-and-mortar store, where the retailer will have the items bagged and ready to pick up.
In some cases, the store may even offer a curbside option that doesn’t even require the customer to leave their car.
How can BOPUS Benefit your Business?
BOPUS offers customers and businesses alike a chance to engage with one another both online and offline — a great way to optimize a multichannel shopping experience for both parties.
Here’s a look at some of the most significant business benefits of making BOPUS part of your business model.
It offers your customers the convenience they want
Digital age shoppers are used to getting pretty much whatever they want in a flash without even having to leave home, thanks to robust online shopping selections combined with lightning-quick shipping speeds.
Unfortunately, that’s left many brick-and-mortar businesses out in the cold as far as attracting new business.
BOPUS gives your traditional business a chance to come into step with the times and offer your clientele the convenience they want and expect.
They no longer have to go to the store to browse your selection. Instead, they can shop online whenever they like and pick up whenever it’s most convenient for them. And returns and exchanges are entirely hassle-free, too.
It’s a speedier alternative to online shopping
Even the speediest online shops can’t offer shoppers the option of immediate gratification, but BOPUS can.
When customers decide to place a BOPUS order, they won’t have to wait even a day or two for the product to arrive from a remote location.
Instead, they can pick up their items in-person as soon as the retailer can pull their order from the shelves.
In this way, BOPUS gives a brick-and-mortar store a considerable advantage over even online shopping giants like Amazon.
And it gives today’s option-loving customer another choice to enjoy as far as how they can shop for things they need.
It’s more economical
As convenient and desirable as an entirely online shopping experience might be for both businesses and customers, there will always be added expenses involved.
Shipping costs both parties money, plain and simple. Even “free” shipping isn’t entirely free, as associated costs are recouped via higher price points, added service fees, and so forth.
BOPUS saves both you and your customer money, especially over time.
Customers don’t have to pay more to have their items sent to them from far away, and your business doesn’t have to take on the costs associated with shipping items ordered from your online shops.
It gives consumers peace of mind
The pandemic has given many consumers an additional incentive to stay away from public places, stores included.
But BOPUS makes it possible for them to resume shopping at the stores they love without jeopardizing their health or sacrificing their peace of mind.
It also gives consumers who still love to shop in person assurance that they won’t make the trip out to a physical store only to find that the item they wanted had sold out by the time they got there.
Instead, they can rest easy in the knowledge that their things are already theirs, available for pickup at their convenience.
How to Build a BOPUS Model for Your Business
Interested in integrating BOPUS into how you run your business? Here’s a look at how to set yourself up for success.
1. Establish an app and a pickup location
Naturally, any retailer interested in exploring BOPUS will need an efficient app or other means for their customers to select and purchase goods.
So make sure yours is mobile-friendly and easy to access across a full range of devices. It should also include a practical way to see what’s in stock at any given moment.
You’ll need a pickup location, as well. If you already have a physical store, that would be the obvious choice.
Still, some businesses set up additional pickup locations, especially if they want to offer a curbside option.
Mark the area with clear signage and consider setting up reserved parking for pickup customers to make things as easy as possible.
2. Train your staff
Whether you’ll be serving your customers entirely in-store or only when they show up to pick up an online order, you want them to receive impeccable service.
Make sure your staff is fully trained on the fundamentals of excellent customer service, including when it comes to BOPUS-specific procedures.
Service agents should fully understand how to handle any issues that arise and advise customers on making great purchasing decisions if they call for assistance.
3. Integrate BOPUS into your marketing campaign
Going to the trouble of setting up a terrific BOPUS program won’t benefit your business much if your customers don’t know about it.
Build an entire digital marketing campaign around it to encourage awareness in your online audience.
Add it to the topics you post about on social media. And put up plenty of signage in your physical locations to bring your in-store clients into the loop, as well.
4. Upgrade the online portion of the shopping experience
Smart business owners don’t just stop at establishing a BOPUS program and hoping the convenience alone will be enough to inspire clients to use it.
Instead, they go the extra mile to make the experience genuinely appealing. Personalization is one way to do this.
If you sell customizable items (like gift items), consider making it possible for customers to complete the customization process in-app or online, so the item is all ready to go by the time they reach the store.
You may also want to take a page out of IKEA’s book and let clients use augmented reality to see how a decorative item might look in their home or whether a wearable piece looks good on them before they buy.
Examples of BOPUS Brands in Action
Need a look at what a successful BOPUS business model looks like once it’s up and running? The following businesses have got it down to a science.
Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery
This popular Detroit business specialized in delicious British treats closed its retail stores in 2020 in favor of nationwide shipping and curbside pickup to the tune of incredible success.
This successful sportswear and shoe brand saw its profits explode when it started offering online customers the option to choose between curbside pickup and shipping.
This package-free sustainable food vendor successfully survived the pandemic by shifting to a contactless curbside pickup model to keep their customers safe.
This popular contemporary fashion brand transitioned its offline retail locations into streamlined pickup centers that are famous for their efficiency, convenience, and stellar service.
And these are just a few examples to consider. As you can see, BOPUS leaves a lot of room for creativity, so you and your team are free to make it whatever your brand most needs it to be.
Get creative, and prepare to embrace the possibilities.
Wrap Up: More Shopping Options is the Key to Happier Customers
Modern consumers love convenience, and they love shopping online or on the go via their mobile devices.
But they’re increasingly open to multichannel experiences, as well, and BOPUS lets them enjoy the convenience they’re used to without having to wait around for their items to be shipped.
Now it’s time to take the next step and bring your customer experience into step with current trends.
Our comprehensive guide on crafting the perfect digital buyer experience and understanding shopping seasons tells you everything you need to know to get started!
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