Blending Online and In-Store: The Boom of BOPIS

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BOPIS — buy online, pick up in store — has become a fixture among cutting-edge retailers over the past several years. But this holiday season has made 2019 the breakthrough year for BOPIS. There’s rising demand among consumers for this handy shopping option. And retailers, seeing how the tactic benefits them as well, are stepping up to meet that demand.

More Retail Brands Add BOPIS Options

An increasing number of retailers that have both an online and brick-and-mortar presence are offering their customers the flexibility of BOPIS. According to research by RetailMeNot, 60% of retailers planned to provide these options this holiday season, compared with 52% in 2018.

Those retailers include the teen apparel store rue21, which made BOPIS available at 700 locations this spring and department store Nordstrom, which is using the tactic to drive foot traffic at its physical locations. This fall, Stein Mart became the first US off-price retailer to deploy BOPIS. It expects 15% of online orders to shift to in-store pickup. And just before the holiday season, Gap Inc. added BOPIS at Banana Republic and Athleta, following in the footsteps of Gap’s Old Navy brand, which introduced BOPIS in 2018.

Big box stores like Target and Walmart have been industry pioneers with this tactic, offering a seamless experience between their physical stores and online storefronts. Target is fulfilling two thirds of digital orders from its physical stores. Walmart has innovated by partnering with FedEx for orders to be delivered to their outposts and picked up there, free of charge to consumers. 

Why Shoppers Love BOPIS

Retailers that introduce BOPIS will find that shoppers greet these new options with enthusiasm. Almost nine out of 10 shoppers are motivated to purchase with BOPIS options this season. 

So, what’s driving the excitement over BOPIS? Convenience. That’s according to 72% of consumers surveyed. A significant number (56%) also said they are also able to save money on shipping costs. In this abbreviated holiday season (there’s one week less between Black Friday and Christmas than there was in 2018), the extra convenience of BOPIS could be especially valuable for shoppers. And it takes the pressure off them when it comes to meeting free shipping deadlines.

While consumers love BOPIS for putting time back in their schedule and money back in their wallet, some also have another motivation for using it. As alarm about climate change grows, more shoppers are choosing in-store pickup or slower shipping options because they’re more eco-friendly than expedited shipping, according to Accenture.

How BOPIS Pays Off for Retailers

As retailers add flexibility to the shipping and pick-up-in-store options shoppers are coming to expect, retailers are seeing their own benefits. 

Heading into the holiday season, almost all retailers surveyed (96%) knew they had to make changes in their shipping tactics to stay competitive with giants like Amazon and Target. But the free, expedited shipping to which customers are accustomed is expensive for retailers to provide. BOPIS helps retailers meet customers’ expectations on free and fast shipping, but it’s less costly for retailers than conventional shipping.

There’s also the benefit of increased foot traffic to stores, which can result in customers making additional purchases beyond the order they came to pick up. That’s held true at Macy’s and at the Gap brand stores where BOPIS was piloted.

As more consumers try out BOPIS for the first time during the holiday 2019 shopping season, the service will increasingly become a standard expectation for omnichannel retailers, driving even more growth. 

Michelle Skupin is the senior director of marketing and communications at RetailMeNot, Inc. In this role, she sets the strategy for a comprehensive program that includes corporate brand, digital campaigns, events, social media, and PR. Prior to RetailMeNot, Michelle has built a career of crafting bottom up marketing programs to help companies scale and grow. Previous marketing roles span industries including retail, consumer Internet, wireless, architecture/design and media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Louisiana State University.