The cheapest way to deliver is to not deliver at all, yet in a recent survey conducted by RIS News, only 26% of senior executives of mid-sized and large retail chains said they have up-to-date technology for Buy Online/Pickup In Store. This means only a quarter of stores are providing the seamless transition from online to in store that’s become the new retail holy grail.
The way customers shop is evolving, and so should the way we sell. This blog post will talk about the importance of Buy Online/Pickup In Store (BOPIS) and how you can use your store to your advantage against online only retailers.
Increase sales with Buy Online/Pickup In Store
I have a nasty habit of procrastinating. I put off cleaning my house, writing my blog posts, and shopping for presents. To put it into context, before the internet retail boom I was a frequent Christmas Eve shopper (it had the added advantage of empty stores).
So what happens if a week before Christmas I find a great present online, but it can’t be delivered until after New Year’s? What if I buy from another retailer when that same product was sitting in your store just a mile down the road? That’s money you’re losing for a simple lack of communication between your store and your website.
We’re all a part of the get-it-now generation, and retailers are frequently losing sales by not moving fast enough. Our phones are smart enough to tell you how many calories you’ve burned in a day, yet the majority of retailers’ websites can’t even tell you if a product is in stock in a store near you.
Buy Online/Pickup In Store is a simple matter of information. Your website needs to know your stores inventory, and your store needs to know your websites sales. You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to accomplish that (although apparently 75% of companies haven’t figured that out). All you need is a way to fluidly share information from your store to online, and vise versa.
Beat Amazon with Buy Online/Pickup In Store
Many retailers like to focus on what Amazon has that they don’t, however if you’re worried about BOPIS then you have one crucial thing Amazon lacks, a store. You have the opportunity to offer customers the item they bought, as soon as they can get to the store to pick it up.
In fact, according to a study by WayfinD, Amazon Prime users rate BOPIS higher in appeal and purchase influence than all other consumer segments. This means Amazon customer want BOPIS, and lucky for you, Amazon can’t provide it (yet).
Now isn’t the time to admit defeat to the internet, but use your best asset, your store, to provide a smooth online and in store experience that not even Amazon is providing yet.
Going beyond BOPIS
The best part about BOPIS is that it extends beyond simply buying online and picking up in store. Once your inventory is shared between your stores and online you can do much more.
Imagine a customer is in your store, and the item they want is out of stock. With all of your systems connected you can:
- Let the customer know if the item is available in another store near by
- Have the item transferred from one store to another for pick-up
- Let the customer buy the product in the store and then have it shipped to their house
- Check your suppliers catalog to have the item shipped from the supplier
You don’t need a million dollar IT budget to accomplish this (all though you will need to be willing to pay some). This level of customer service is possible by simply sharing data from all your locations, and that’s the basis of multichannel retail, connecting everything and everywhere you sell.
Implementing Buy Online/Pickup In Store
While the concept of BOPIS is simple, it’s not as easy as just telling your IT guy to connect all your systems. To accomplish everything mentioned in this blog post you need to be able to:
- Connect your store inventory with your website
- Connect your store inventory across stores
- Share your web sales with your stores
- Share your store sales with your website
The problem with this is that each webstore and POS has a different way of handling data. Magento is different than Shopify, LightSpeed is different than RMS. Unless you’re going to pay a team of programmers to custom develop a system for you to share all this data, the easiest way to accomplish BOPIS is to work with a cloud-based multichannel provider to connect all your systems.
Multichannel providers already have integrations built for all the major systems, so you don’t have to pay someone to custom develop something for you. And if the provider uses hub-spoke technology, this means anytime you add another store (online or brick-and-mortar) it’s as easy as adding another spoke to your system. This provides you with a adaptive, scalable solution to providing BOPIS.
Also by centralizing all your data in the cloud, not only are you able to share inventory availability and sales from all your locations, you can also do things like easily manage all your product data, push items to your marketplaces, and track customer information all from one central location.
BOPIS is just one, albeit one very important, step in becoming a true multichannel retailer. It’s up to you to connect your online and brick-and-mortar operations, but once you do, you can lead a charge that even Amazon can’t lead yet: a fluid online and in-store shopping experience.