The retail climate in the U.S. is analogous to the rise of social media: omni-present, fast-paced and powerful. Consumers’ shopping habits are migrating away from shopping exclusively in-store or online to a cross-pollination of the two worlds. A customer can now see a sponsored ad on their social feed, use the ad’s promo code in a retailer’s app or on its website, and pick the order up just a few hours later. Retailers that are prioritizing the buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) experience in their omnichannel strategies are seeing an array of benefits, from increased in-store traffic to a rise in average order size to incremental in-store purchases.
As a response to this growing trend, a study conducted in April by Bell and Howell, IHL and Order Dynamics, titled, BOPIS: State of the Industry, asked 300 secret shoppers to evaluate their experience using the BOPIS service at the nation’s top 10 retailers. The second installment of the report series, titled BOPIS: State of the Industry Part 2: The Superior Online BOPIS Experience, provided a deeper look into the specific elements of the online and notification experience that provided the most impact to the overall BOPIS experience. From this more detailed examination, a few nuggets of wisdom emerged.
Take a Minimalist Approach
Over the past couple of years, retailers have made significant progress improving the shopping experience on mobile devices. Due to the limited space on a mobile screen, retailers have adopted a “less is more” experience, making it easier for shoppers to find what they're looking for. In the research, our shoppers reported an average satisfaction rating of 4.42 out of 5.0 for mobile vs. an average rating of 4.31 for desktop.
Inventory Transparency is Absolutely Vital
Providing accurate, real-time visibility into a store’s inventory level is no easy feat. The customer experience varies between PC and mobile. Whereas PC websites rate on average at 4.34, the average for mobile sites is 4.51. There's a strong correlation between retailers that clearly label items as “available for pickup” and repeat use of the BOPIS service. It also has a significant impact on the overall rating of the retailer’s site, the overall BOPIS service experience, as well as the probability of recommending the service to others.
Make Order Fulfillment a Priority
Consumers are using BOPIS because it’s the perfect bond of the physical and digital worlds. A key component to keeping consumers from simply purchasing items from online-only retailers, such as Amazon.com, is prioritizing order fulfillment and notification timeliness. For the top retailers in our research, 69 percent of orders were ready within two hours and 51 percent were ready in less than one hour. The research reveals a very strong correlation between the notification time of the order being ready and the likelihood of the customer using the service again, recommending the service to others, and buying additional items once they arrive in-store.
Provide Clear Instructions for In-store Pickup
One element of the BOPIS process that's often overlooked, but is possibly the easiest segment of the BOPIS equation, is providing clear instructions on how to retrieve an order once the customer gets in-store. On average, the shoppers in our study rated this segment the lowest, with a rating of 4.36 out of a 5.0 scale. In fact, our shoppers said it was easier to check out and pay for their order than it was to figure out where to go when their order was ready!
In addition, the research indicates that providing subtle things, such as clear signage in the parking lot and dedicated parking spaces for online pickup, helps to boost satisfaction ratings and reinforces the benefits of using the service.
Retailers have done a good job improving the online experience for BOPIS in recent years, regardless of the delivery mechanism. While many retailers have made the buying process seamless for shoppers, to truly realize the advantages that BOPIS can offer to both retailers and consumers, the end-to-end experience will need to become a top priority for retailers as the trend continues to grow.
Look for part three of the “BOPIS: State of the Industry” report series that takes a deep dive into the impact each element of an in-store pickup experience can have on the entire BOPIS customer satisfaction rating.
Brian Irish is the vice president of marketing at Bell & Howell, a provider of innovative service and technology solutions.