Who Put the BOPIS In Online Retail?

Are you familiar with the acronym BOPIS? If you are involved in brick-and-mortar retail nowadays, you probably either are, or will be very soon.

BOPIS stands for Buy Online, Pick-up In Store. It is one of the fastest-growing segments of retail nowadays, with numerous benefits for both consumers and retailers:

  • It combines online shopping with the convenience of getting same-day merchandise.
  • It lets consumers “browse” products from the convenience of their home, office or mobile device.
  • It saves time compared with physically shopping, including finding products and ensuring that items are in-stock.
  • It allows retailers to operate more efficiently with a smaller footprint. For example, major chain Target is planning to open dozens of smaller-format stores in 2020, with a greater emphasis on BOPIS.

And of course, the global 2020 pandemic has blown the market for BOPIS wide open. Consumers are increasingly avoiding crowded stores, and seeking options such as contact-free or curbside pickup. They now purchase everything from their groceries to their clothes online – and in some cases, even big-ticket purchases like automobiles. According to one source, BOPIS has grown 130% year-over-year in 2020, with an amazing 563% YOY growth during the peak pandemic month of April.

More importantly, these trends are creating permanent changes in the retail landscape. Many consumers began using BOPIS for the first time ever in 2020, and will continue to do so. And the previous source notes that more than half of shoppers now select a brand because it has a BOPIS option. In what has become a brutal environment for retail stores, linking online ordering with live delivery has become a path to survival for many of them.

How BOPIS will affect you

The growth of online ordering for retail delivery is transforming retail – for good – into a highly data-driven business.

In the past, people walked into your store, pulled out their cash or credit cards for a clerk at a register, and walked out with their merchandise. Today, they’ve become a contact record that must be validated prior to a delivery. Or a potential source of online retail fraud. And in many cases, a data resource with value for the future.

As IBM recently put it, it turns customers into opportunities – for upselling, future marketing efforts, and long-term customer relationships. It is also transforming retail associates from store clerks to the front line of your customer contact acquisition and processing efforts. Salesforce.com notes that these associates will need to develop increasing levels of digital fluency, for roles that may range from order processing and fulfillment to suggestive selling, using customer data in real time from mobile devices.

Managing a new reality

Brick-and-mortar retail stores have suddenly been thrust into a new role, with changes that are likely to be permanent. In much the same way that corner stores evolved into 24-hour supermarkets, the store of the 21st century will increasingly shift to a more hybrid role as a retail/BOPIS/fulfillment center, with a more digitally-savvy customer base.

This puts new importance on capturing accurate contact data like address, phone and email at the point of data entry, as well as an increasing focus on order fulfillment. As less experienced staff are asked to perform fulfillment duties, there is a potential for increased errors and customer satisfaction problems. And in the longer term, maintaining this contact data will become increasingly important for future customer relationships that add value to these initial online sales.

Ultimately, retail is joining the many other business sectors whose fortunes live or die on data quality. Of course, helping businesses maintain this data quality with best-of-class contact validation tools is our business, and we’re planning to be doing a lot more to serve the retail space in the future. Stay tuned for a period of great change – and possibility – in this time-honored profession.

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