BOPUS and Your Virtual Queuing Strategy
In consumers’ seemingly endless quest to have their cake and eat it, too, buy online, pick up in store (BOPUS) has the ingredients shoppers need.
Not only can customers enjoy the convenience of shopping online in the comfort of their own homes, but they also can get their items today—sooner than most e-commerce brands can deliver. Stores such as Target, Home Depot, Apple, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many others are leading the way with this omnichannel approach.
The idea behind BOPUS, also known as click and collect, is simple: Shoppers browse items, make selections, and pay for their purchase online, either through a computer or a mobile device. Then, they go to the store to pick up their purchases.
BOPUS purchases might be for items already in stock, allowing for a much shorter experience inside the store. Or, the customers might be shopping for items not immediately in stock and must be shipped from another store or a distribution center to be picked up in a few days. In this way, customers aren’t crossing their fingers and hoping something is available when they reach the store—they make an online purchase if it is and can be notified if it isn’t.
The BOPUS Boom
The growth in BOPUS was catching the attention of retailers large and small even before the COVID-19 pandemic. As Digital Commerce 360 reported, according to Adobe Analytics, BOPUS orders grew an incredible 37 percent from 2018 to 2019 during the Nov. 1-Dec. 6 period. Also, in 2018, eMarketer cited a Kibo Commerce survey which found that 67 percent of U.S. internet users had used BOPUS over a six-month period.
The leading reason consumers chose BOPUS was to avoid shipping costs, according to 86 percent of respondents in the Kibo Commerce survey. Nearly as important (85 percent) was the ability to pick up the product when convenient. Other reasons consumers choose BOPUS included:
- To avoid having to wait at home for a package that had no set delivery time
- Being able to see a product before taking it home
- The efficiency of having a product waiting for them at a counter
The pandemic highlighted the appeal of BOPUS even more.
A Deloitte survey, as reported by Insider Intelligence, found that in October 2020, 35 percent of shoppers used click and collect because it was safer—and that number was down from 48 percent in April 2020. Getting in and out of the store faster wasn’t just more convenient: BOPUS delivered a preferable store experience during the pandemic.
Convenience, for both the retailer and the shopper, might be the most obvious benefit of BOPUS. Customers aren’t wandering around a store, trying to find that one item they need—and hoping it’s in stock. Retailers end up with guaranteed purchases and more flexibility in what they do with staffers.
The customer experience also improves with BOPUS. The shopping app can learn their preferences, they get their items faster, and they aren’t fumbling with cash or PINs inside the store. Moreover, not looking over at another customer and wondering if they’re contagious is another advantage for BOPUS shoppers who aren’t in the store for long enough to worry about prolonged exposure.
When shoppers come to the store to pick up items ordered online, 37 percent make additional purchases that they were not planning on, according to research from OrderDynamics. And so-called “superconsumers”—consumers who used buy online, pick up in store at least twice in the past 12 months—bought more items in the store 51 percent% of the time.
The Challenges of BOPUS
Although BOPUS is appealing for retailers, they are still figuring out how to take advantage of this growth area while minimizing some of the issues consumers dislike about the brick-and-mortar experience.</>
Take, for example, what happens when customers go to the store to pick up their items:
- Are they routed to a special pickup area?
- Is getting in and out of this area easy?
- Are there long wait lines to pick up something they’ve already purchased?
- Are their orders ready when they arrive?
- Are retailers taking advantage of the opportunity to turn these store visitors into impulse shoppers?
If something goes wrong along the way, the customer experience suffers. Retailers risk alienating customers into not using BOPUS again as well as delivering such a negative impression that they decide to shop elsewhere the next time.
Mobile Queuing: A Win-Win for Retailers and Customers
The digital side of BOPUS—when customers are browsing the shopping app and making a payment—might be the most crucial part of the process. Shoppers need to feel confident making purchases and knowing those purchases will be there when they arrive at the store. However, the experience after the purchase is made is just as important. Customers choose BOPUS for convenience and agility; if you provide neither, they’ll wonder why they bothered.
Mobile queuing systems offer a way to help ensure that BOPUS doesn’t get bogged down by long waits and chaotic lines. Virtual queuing can improve the in-store pickup experience by giving customers the opportunity to avoid waiting in line when they arrive in-store to claim their goods. Retailers can benefit from an increase in impulse sales from shoppers who choose to browse the store while they wait for their purchases to be retrieved.
Moreover, two-way texting via mobile queuing allows retailers to notify customers when their orders are ready, as well as customers to alert the retailer when they have arrived at the store. Because the queue is virtual, there’s no physical line to slow down the process or create frustration among shoppers who expect little (if any) wait time to pick up their order.
BOPUS is here and growing. Is your retail operation primed to take advantage of this trend?