BOPIS needs more work

Discussion
Jun 06, 2016
Tom Ryan

A mystery shopper study of BOPIS found that 90 percent of retailers had the online-ordered product ready and waiting at the store at the promised pick-up time. But shortcomings around BOPIS execution were also revealed.

The study from Kibo, the e-tailing group and Multichannel Merchant shopped 30 retailers that offered in-store pickup or reserve and evaluated 85 metrics, including retailer apps and the in-store experience.

The pickup counter was easy to find at 83 percent of stores. Less impressive was that while associates were able to locate the order under a minute at 43 percent of stores, 50 percent took between one to four minutes and the remaining seven percent presumably took even longer. Also, just half had in-store pickup signage. Ten percent of the stores had self-serve kiosks.

As far as sales associates go, 90 percent had access to store inventory and 87 percent could place orders. Yet a little more than a quarter (27 percent) of the store associates sought help during the transactions. Moreover, only seven percent tried to save the sale when a return or exchange was requested.

Of the apps examined, only 42 percent promoted the merchant’s in-store pickup offering. Half of the apps displayed a pickup time of less than one hour from the time the order was placed, and 33 percent had pickup times ranging from one to 24 hours. Only 37 percent of the apps allowed someone other than the purchaser to pick the order up.

On inventories, 93 percent of apps showed enterprise-wide inventory and 88 percent indicated in-stock status at an individual store, yet only 17 percent showed store quantity, or number of items on hand. Twenty-nine percent of apps offered live chat capabilities and 30 percent had text notification capability.

Said Jennifer Sherman, SVP, product and strategy, Kibo, in a statement, “Advanced retail commerce technology, store associate training and engagement, and communication with the consumer all need to work together to provide the seamless experience consumers expect.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you see retailers meeting and falling short of customers’ BOPIS expectations? To improve customer experiences, where should stores to focus their attention?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Technology by itself does not solve problems. "
"The retailer may have determined what role BOPIS is to play in their organization, but the role of BOPIS is largely determined by the customer."
"Store associates have to be motivated, educated and empowered with technology to do their jobs. That’s the work of the next five years..."

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23 Comments on "BOPIS needs more work"


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Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

Far too many retailers view BOPIS as a means to capture sales with minimal costs in-store. Nothing will kill BOPIS faster than the lack of properly trained associates equipped to help and provide quality service. Studies to date show that stores require additional staff and resources to execute BOPIS in ways that meet consumer expectations. Given that trips to stores have been declining, retailers cannot afford to properly invest to make the pickup experience both efficient and positive in ways that make the customer want to return.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Please stop calling them store associates. They are warehouse workers. There is no personality required, no building rapport — this study shows it is all about efficiency. I still scratch my head about why so many retailers have sort of bought into BOPIS while totally discounting employees as sales generators, not enablers.

It costs much less to create an exceptional experience for those who actually come into your store than to cater to the very few who expect an exceptional warehouse experience.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

This story, to my mind, in about two things.

The role of store associates is changing dramatically. Retailers are going to need to hire savvy, independent thinkers who can make things happen for the customer. These people will not be making minimum wage.

In addition, each retail brand needs to determine what BOPIS processes will work for them. Will they see BOPIS as an opportunity for quick service? For upselling? For drawing the customer to the back of the store? It will work differently for each … but muddling through isn’t the answer.

Larry Negrich
BrainTrust

I’ve been at a large number of stores to pick up items ordered online and the first few moments of interaction inevitably are made up of the retail counter person giving me the “let me see if we have that” or “I don’t see it in the system” line –- the majority of time the order/product is found and all is OK. But it’s in those few moments of uncertainty that I have questioned why I even bothered ordering it from that store. If BOPIS is going to be offered as an option, then the retailer needs to fully commit to the process: clearly identify the pickup area, assign a dedicated staffer, train the personnel and implement some decent systems to support the process.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

The results of the Kibo study show where retailers fail to meet customers’ expectations of BOPIS. In their rush to become a me-too BOPIS provider, many retailers overlooked — at least temporarily — the process changes that BOPIS was going to require. Many simply didn’t do much more than proclaim that they were now playing in the BOPIS arena and those retailers were/are likely to disappoint.

In order to improve customer experiences in the BOPIS model, retailers need to focus on four aspects. First, keep extremely accurate inventory. Second, provide a clear path to pickup once in the store, whether by signage or knowledgeable personnel (good luck with that one). Third, re-design in-store processes to clearly address BOPIS instead of just trying to “accommodate” BOPIS in the everyday routine. (There are steps demanded by BOPIS that were not needed before.) Fourth and finally, train, train, train the store associates in these new processes.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

First of all, if these numbers are right that means that in 83 percent of the sample customers got their orders located in four minutes or less. That’s not impressive? It can take 15 minutes to find somebody to recognize you in many stores, let alone actually get your order moving.

The place where retailers fall short in BOPIS (and God, why do we did need yet another acronym for something so simple) is where they always fall down — providing adequate employee training AND rewards. Taking a commissioned person off a sales floor to chase an order will work, provided she or he is compensated. If they aren’t, they’ll chase the in-store shopper every time.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

How many times have we heard or used the phrase, “the solution is 20 percent technology and 80 percent people”? Technology by itself does not solve problems. Stores need to examine the process involved in using the technology and train all the people involved to execute the process well.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

There are some really great (read: painless for the customer) retailers making this process a success today. Are there still areas needing improvement? Sure. Starting online, accurate local store inventory levels is still a challenge on too many retailers’ sites. Additionally, I was just on a major retailer’s site and it wasn’t even apparent that the service was offered.

Bottom line, make it obvious to the the shopper that you provide the service. Work with your teams and your ecosystem of business partners to implement or improve store-level inventory visibility. That may be easier said than done, however it needs to be addressed. From there, see what improvements can be made in-store, some of which were highlighted in the study in the article. Store-level execution must be revisited regularly by field supervision to ensure bad habits and poor conditions don’t become the norm.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

The 100-year-old model of the store is under serious stress. That model presumes that stores are the end of the supply chain, not an active node, that workers are mostly part-time, minimum wage workers and that technology is used to promote efficiency in store receiving and payroll processing, not in educating and empowering workers.

I don’t quite know how to fix this model … Wall Street has limited tolerance for higher payroll-to-sales ratios. I just know it has to change, and quickly.

That means store associates have to be motivated, educated and empowered with technology to do their jobs. That’s the work of the next five years, and it’s time we got to it.

Ross Ely
Guest

Some of the metrics included in the study are must-haves while others are nice-to-haves. As we are very early in the evolution of BOPIS, retailers should be focusing on the must-haves while adding the nice-to-haves over time.

Must-haves include filling the order accurately and on-time, along with store associates who know how to process the order. Meeting these expectations will satisfy shoppers’ expectations and keep them coming back.

Nice-to-haves include one-hour pickup, live chat and text messaging. The study should have weighted these attributes lower compared to the basic functionality metrics.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

“Click-and-collect” (sorry, I just can’t get onboard the BOPIS acronym) is, and can be, a very powerful tool to bridge the mobile shopper and brick-and-mortar retailers. The program needs to be taken seriously and founded upon a robust workflow that is supported and respected by the entire enterprise. Processes, staff education and commitment is required to be successful. The program will not support your brand if it just another part of your app. I maintain that the use of a retailer app in-store continues to be minimal. That being said, I just helped my daughter move into a new apartment this weekend and we made our required pilgrimage to Target. She open her Cartwheel app and scanned all the items in our cart. I watched the process with great interest. On our way out of the store she proudly announced she had saved an additional $13. Hmmm?

In short, click-and-collect can be a very powerful program when taken seriously. As other shoppers see the streamlined process it will inspire them to try the service themselves.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

What does a retailer call an associate who:

  • Completes a sale every 5 to 10 minutes;
  • Has a higher number of items per-sale than the average associate;
  • Cheerfully manages returns;
  • Supports customers with a higher-than-average lifetime value;
  • And helps out with stock keeping and merchandising in-store?

Unfortunately more often than not these people who are fulfilling web orders in-store are called “non-selling store expenses” and don’t get the hours or recognition they deserve.

As already mentioned, Stores are now also distribution centers, pick-up points and shipment hubs. Time for the old financial metrics of store costs to be revised completely.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

The retailer may have determined what role BOPIS is to play in their organization but the role of BOPIS is largely determined by the customer. The retailer may have decided the they want it to be just a pickup point and have not trained the staff on how to sell, check store inventory, etc. However, the customer gets there to pick up their items and wants to know if X is available in the store and/or decides they would like to order something else online. There goes everyone’s waiting time.

As with every other sales associate the BOPIS staff must be trained to meet their customers’ needs. Because these customers are likely to have an expectation of a short transaction time, they need to be carefully scheduled, etc. BOPIS seems like such a simple idea but as we have all learned, what at first seems simple is often not.

Mark Price
BrainTrust
Mark Price
Managing Partner, Smart Data Solutions, ThreeBridge
3 years 8 months ago

Given how recently the online purchase pick up in-store option has been made available, the results reported in this article are actually fairly positive. The greatest opportunity stems from a lack of mobile integration. Companies are still building their e-commerce strategy based on the desktop rather than on the mobile device. This is evidenced by the lack of focus on in-store pickup in the online app, which may very well represent the greatest revenue opportunity for retailers in the online universe.

All in all, a very good start.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
3 years 8 months ago

I have recently experienced BOPIS at several retailers (DIY, electronics, office supply) and all went smoothly. The products were ready on time and were what I ordered. Two of the three retailers used the opportunity for an upsell (product and service). The only fly in the ointment was the wait time to get to the front of the line and secure my order (despite having a dedicated area for order pickup).

With the popularity of BOPIS increasing, stores will have to treat this option not as a bolt-on to their store operations, but integral to the flow and design. And yes, the work content of a store associate is changing, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are in the store to give the customer a more satisfying shopping experience and enhance the brand/store loyalty.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 8 months ago

Here’s the key question: Does BOPIS offer enough strategic & profit advantage to justify the investment required to meet these expectations?

Given that we’re seeing some serious P&L challenges at those retailers who doubled down on digital, I’d suggest we need to be far more cautious about topics like these.

Retailer advantage is the store. Clearly BOPIS has an advantage of getting the buyer into your store, will that pay out big or little? We need to know more than just a few anecdotes before putting bit investment into it.

Colin Peacock
Guest

In Europe, where BOPIS is referred to most often as “click and collect,” the challenges talked about here are all present, from [good and bad] customer service, to availability/inventory accuracy and finally, returns management. In fact, it is this last topic that has really intrigued the members of the ECR group, and one where we are starting a research project to quantify a) the scale and nature of the returns from the Click & Collect service ideally by department, b) the robustness of the work processes and then, c) the true cost of a return.

Hopefully I can check back in with this group in 12 months time with the findings!

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

As retailers work out the kinks, I think we’ll see an integration of Click & Collect and a customer’s overall relationship with the retailer. The more thoughtful the process appears to be, the more likely the customer will work it into their routine.

This is a subset of procurement, not shopping. I need more of my favorite white t-shirts and razor blades (I don’t go through many razor blades, but stay with me here) and while I’m there, I’m going to check out new products I’ve heard about that might be good gifts or fun stuff to have.

C&C can enable utility and grease the wheels for more high-margin transactions.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m not quite sure how they define “locate the order, but if they’re referring to actually retrieving it, then “under one minute” seems severe … ridiculously so (presumably they mean locate it on a screen).

But back to the basic question, I expect we’ll see the same issues that raise complaints in every retail transaction, regardless of where it originated: wait times and basic competence in handling transactions (particularly when things go wrong).

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

We did a study 2 years ago on BOPIS and the way customers wanted it to work was to drive up to the store and have it put in their trunk, by a wide margin. There are few retailers doing that now, mainly Giant Eagle and now Walmart. It’s difficult to say whether it works or not if you don’t do it the way customers want it done (the new modus operandi for retailers). Remember, it’s not about operations anymore, it’s about the customer experience!

Arie Shpanya
Guest

It seems some retailers have implemented BOPIS without fully committing to it, as evidenced by lack of promotion of the option in-app or online, lack of visibility in store, inaccurate inventory tracking, staff training and empowerment. If you’ve already made the choice to invest in it, make sure you have the processes and resources in place you need to make it successful.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Let’s face it, what many folks call “BOPIS” is really a variant of the extinct catalog showroom retail model, except with a e-catalog and order form. The old customer experience was pretty uninspiring, as I recall, which may largely explain the demise of Consumer Distributors and Service Merchandise. Modern retailers should be careful not to repeat their mistakes.

Click-and-collect is a superior descriptive term that actually has some meaning to shoppers. I think “will-call” might be an even better choice (as in theater tickets). BOPIS means bupkis to them. Let’s ditch it, please!

Retailers are looking at an opportunity to engineer the will-call experience into a point of competitive advantage. Send the coders on vacation for a few weeks and call in the consumer behaviorists!

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Retail industry thought leader
3 years 8 months ago
Many retailers are not taking cross-channel fulfillment seriously, and that is a huge risk. According to our research, most retailers understand that consumers want flexible fulfillment options and they are trying to support these options as best they can. However, for those retailers that say they offer cross-channel fulfillment options, most indicate that they are not working well. Over-promising and under-delivering on these complex orders will alienate customers and risk losing their future business. Of the retailers we have surveyed and in discussions with our clients, most are not doing anything to compensate or encourage store associates to adequately fulfill omni-channel orders. I strongly believe that retailers are going to have to either have dedicated staff to support fulfillment (for high volume stores) or provide associates incentives/bonuses or commissions on the orders. Best practice is to treat these sales as if they came from the store location. Many of the systems on the market today employ a model that allows the stores to claim the sale and drive it based on the on-hand quantity. In… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Technology by itself does not solve problems. "
"The retailer may have determined what role BOPIS is to play in their organization, but the role of BOPIS is largely determined by the customer."
"Store associates have to be motivated, educated and empowered with technology to do their jobs. That’s the work of the next five years..."