Supermarket Shoppers Are Returning to Stores as BOPIS Fades
All retailers, and supermarket operators in particular, devoted most of their resources since the start of the pandemic to accommodating shoppers who wanted to avoid the store for safety reasons by upgrading their digital presence and installing new systems for store pickup and delivery. As those shoppers are returning to physical stores in droves, and as restaurants start competing for more of the food dollar, successful supermarket retailers will balance their focus around online purchase channels with the in-store experience, where shoppers are once again making the substantial majority of purchase decisions.
ChaseDesign recently completed a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) survey which revealed that while 50 percent of grocery shoppers began using BOPIS during the pandemic, half of those customers will continue this behavior in the future. BOPIS programs that allow customers to purchase items online and collect them at the retail store are seen by many as limiting the buying experience, and shoppers want to be in control. In fact, 54 percent simply prefer to pick items out in person.
For traditional supermarket retailers, when shoppers buy products online for pick up in-store or delivery to home, they often avoid some of the most profitable categories due to concerns over freshness and selection. Nearly half of BOPIS shoppers won’t buy meat and seafood, about 40 percent avoid dairy, produce and frozen products, about 35 percent won’t order deli or bakery goods, and 31 percent will avoid buying healthcare or personal care items.
Shoppers also encountered a degree of frustration with the BOPIS experience, according to the survey, citing product availability (i.e., out-of-stocks), quality of items selected, items missing from their order, long wait times, and inability to add last-minute items as the leading issues they face. Long wait times are also negatively impacting BOPIS, with 40 percent of people report waiting times of 10 minutes to 15 minutes (or longer) for their order.
Home delivery is also experiencing a challenge in customer satisfaction, with high cost being top of the list. The other common reasons people are discontinuing delivery to home include missing products or incorrect items, items selected were considered poor quality, harder to use coupons or secure discounts, and products arriving damaged.
The survey reveals that Walmart is providing the best experience for BOPIS customers, followed closely by Target. Kroger, Costco, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Publix, Wegmans, Albertsons/Safeway, and CVS round out the top 10.
Retailers should enhance their mobile apps to make them easier to use for both a better in-store experience as well as a better experience for pickup or delivery. Shoppers have become highly reliant on retailer apps, the survey reports, with 95 percent using them for everything from creating lists and checking specials and promotions when they shop to ordering and arranging pickup or delivery times.
Retailers should certainly address the need to have a strong BOPIS offering and fix the many underperforming issues within their program. But the real winners in retail will balance this effort with an equal if not greater focus on delivering a compelling and engaging in-store experience for the shoppers who are returning in droves. After all, the store is still where more than 85 percent of all retail purchases are still made.
In April 2021, ChaseDesign fielded an online survey through its proprietary research platform, mPulse, amongst 1,000 consumers between the ages of 18-54 who buy groceries online for pick up in-store, curbside pickup or home delivery. Respondents were screened to be the primary or secondary shopper in their households.
Joe Lampertius is the president at ChaseDesign, a human-centered design firm that combines business consultancy with multifunctional design.