Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) has gained considerable momentum this year. By mid-April, BOPIS orders on their commerce network were running nearly 500% higher than they were at the beginning of the year. And recent data shows that BOPIS orders are still nearly three times what they were at the start of 2020. This means that this holiday season, we can expect high demand for the ability to pick up online orders in store or curbside.
Customers typically choose to buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) because it is quick and convenient. And with this year’s myriad of retail challenges, BOPIS offers a safe alternative to in-store shopping.
During the upcoming season of gift-giving, BOPIS will provide a way for customers to shop from the comfort and safety of their homes, without the hassle of shipping costs and shipping delays. For merchants, the rise of BOPIS presents an opportunity to repurpose their brick and mortar stores into fulfillment centres.
Last month, we covered why BOPIS is benefiting businesses, and how to integrate this fulfillment method into your omnichannel strategy. Now, it’s time to discover how you can optimize BOPIS to be a streamlined experience that will earn customer loyalty and trust. Read on to learn three ways that you can perfect the experience of BOPIS this holiday season.
The Experience of Buy Online, Pick Up In Store
At the onset of COVID-19 many retailers scrambled to add the integrations and technology required to seamlessly introduce BOPIS to their retail operations. But having the right technology is just part of the equation when it comes to providing BOPIS functionality. The actual experience of BOPIS is a key factor that has the potential to impress or frustrate your customers.
67% of BOPIS customers report that they’ve had a bad experience with BOPIS. If a customer completes a BOPIS order, but isn’t given instructions on how to pick up the merchandise, they’ll likely become frustrated. Or, if they arrive at your store but don’t know where to go to pick up their order, the supposed convenience of BOPIS might not feel so convenient anymore. Bad experiences like these have the potential to reduce a merchant’s customer retention and loyalty.
The experience of BOPIS does not start and end with the path to purchase on your business’s ecommerce website. The experience includes everything that happens after a customer submits their order. From the order notifications they receive, to the signage a customer encounters in your physical store, every aspect between submitting an order and picking up the merchandise matters. So what aspects are most important, and how can you optimize them? Let’s dive in.
Minimize Customer Frustration With Active Communication.
From the moment that a customer submits an order, ensure you’re actively communicating with them. They will want to know that their order has been received, is being processed, how and when to pick it up, and more. Strong communication reduces inquiries to your business’s customer service team, and it supports a unified and omnichannel shopping experience for your customers.
The best way to communicate this information to your customers is through automated SMS and email. You can create custom SMS and email notifications to keep your customers informed about the status of their order.
Email is most commonly used for transactional notifications, and most customers will default to that channel when they are looking for information about a BOPIS order. When using email to communicate order statuses, keep the subject line and body of the email short and to the point so that your customers have the information they need without sifting through fluff.
Text messages (SMS) have a 90% open rate and a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook. This makes SMS another perfect channel for communicating order notifications to your customers. To enable this communication channel, Shopify merchants can install an SMS marketing app.
Then, be sure to include a prompt in the order checkout that collects your customer’s phone number and consent for SMS communications. There’s a limit of 160 characters per text message, which means your SMS notifications need to be short and to the point.
Automated SMS and email notifications provide regular updates as a customer’s order is processed and fulfilled. Furthermore, notifications can provide relevant information, like how and where the customer should go to collect their merchandise. The key is to ensure that all transactional communications are simple and concise.
When to Communicate With Your Customers.
The more you can communicate to your customers during the fulfillment process, the better. But, these are the most essential moments that you should notify your customers about:
- Order confirmation: Let the customer know that their order has been received. You can also inform them of what to expect next, and include a reminder about how and when they will pick up their order.
- Order processing: Sending a follow up that confirms the order is currently being processed helps to keep your customers from wondering about their order’s status.
- Ready for pickup: Notify your customers when their order is ready to be collected. In this notification you’ll want to include instructions on how and where to pick up their merchandise. Include details like what the customer needs to present in the store (identification, or the order number) and where they should go inside the store.
- Order complete: Confirm that the order has been fulfilled. This is an opportunity to thank your customer for their business, and ask for feedback about their shopping experience or the merchandise that they purchased.
It is also important to include BOPIS information on your store website as a readily available resource for both existing and prospective customers. Creating a dedicated landing page or FAQ page will serve a further purpose as well. By highlighting these pages on your store, you inform your customers that your business offers BOPIS fulfillment. For example, Canadian Tire has this page that is dedicated to explaining how their BOPIS fulfillment option works. It also answers common questions about the process.
Strong communication is the key to keeping the experience of BOPIS both simple and convenient. Ensuring that your customers are well informed throughout the fulfillment of their BOPIS order will support a smooth transaction from start to finish. And with information about your BOPIS procedure available to customers on your website, you can educate your customers about what to expect before they try BOPIS.
Ensure Your In-Store Staff are Trained on Fulfilling BOPIS Orders.
Experts argue that strong associates in your store are an integral feature of omnichannel retail. That’s because they are a human touchpoint, that for customers, represent the “face” of your brand and deliver a brand experience.
When your customers interact with a store associate, that associate has the opportunity to strengthen your business reputation and boost the customer experience by providing useful and relevant knowledge about your products. This is exactly why it is important that your associates are well trained on how to fulfill BOPIS orders.
In order to provide well rounded training, you need to have a procedure and policies for BOPIS in place. Some of the questions that retailers should consider when developing their BOPIS pickup procedure include:
Where and how will customers pick up their order?
What documentation will customers need to present when picking up their order?
Who is responsible for processing orders, and helping customers who arrive to pick up their order?
Creating policies that cater to BOPIS orders is equally important. Your policies are a resource for both your customers and staff, because they shape BOPIS procedures and set expectations for customers. Some points that can be included in your policy are the timeline for BOPIS order fulfillment, where the orders are held for pickup, how long they are held for the customer, and how BOPIS orders can be returned.
Procedures and policies will vary between stores and should be customized to serve every brick and mortar location in a way that works best for them. When your procedures and policies are established, the key is to then document them well so that your associates have access to the information they need.
Next, you’ll want to provide BOPIS training to the associates that will be responsible for fulfilling orders. Provide an overview of the procedure and policies, and make sure that all associates understand their role in the procedure. Give them an opportunity to ask questions about the policies so that they can provide BOPIS service to your customers with confidence.
Your store associates aren’t just the face of your brand. They are an integral part of your business’s omnichannel marketing strategy because they deliver a tailored selling and service experience that bridges the gap between the online and offline experience of your brand.
By establishing pickup policies and preparing your store associates to manage BOPIS, you avoid opportunities for friction. When your associates understand the BOPIS process, room for questions, mistakes, and general friction is reduced. Instead, your staff can provide a smooth and simple experience.
Create a Streamlined In-Store Pick-Up Process.
You’ve ensured strong communication and you’ve prepped your associates to provide a positive BOPIS experience. The final detail to consider when optimizing your in store pickup process is the store itself. Three simple ways to streamline BOPIS pickup are to create short-term parking, create a designated pick up location in your brick and mortar store, and add signage and directions for customers.
Store configuration is the key to streamlining the experience of your customers when they come to pick up an order. Let’s look at the three most important elements of your store to optimize:
- Offer BOPIS parking – Before configuring inside the store, configure the outside. Offer curbside pickup or short-term parking specifically for BOPIS customers. If there is a line up to enter the store, create a fast-track line for customers that are picking up orders rather than shopping.
- Create a designated pick up point – While some stores use their checkout counter as the pickup point for BOPIS orders, creating a BOPIS counter can simplify the pickup experience. A designated location, with designated staff and a designated line will simplify the fulfillment process both for your customers, and your store associates.
- Use signage to guide your customers – How will your customers find the BOPIS pick up point? The best way to avoid confusion is to put up clear signage that provides concise instructions. Signage at the entrance to your store is a great place to start. Another option is to add floor decals to guide customers directly to the pickup point.
Convenience is what draws online shoppers to BOPIS. And in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is even further appreciated because it is a way to minimize time spent in-store, without having to deal with the hassle of shipping. With parking, a designated pick up point, and signage to guide your customers, the in-store experience of collecting an online order will be exactly what it is supposed to be: quick, and convenient.
Optimize the BOPIS Experience This Holiday Season
The global pandemic and economic recession has reshaped nearly all aspects of North American life, including retail. With consumer reports showing that online retail spending this July was up 87% compared to July 2019, it’s clear that this upcoming holiday season will be characterized by this year’s steadily growing ecommerce penetration.
This means that this upcoming holiday season, retailers will need to respond to changing consumer behaviors. Instead of packed shopping centres and last minute retail promotions, it’s predicted that in the 2020 holiday season we will see high reliance on ecommerce and BOPIS.
With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to optimize the experience of BOPIS for your customers by setting up automated order notifications, ensuring your in-store staff are trained on fulfilling orders, and creating a streamlined in-store pickup process. A positive experience of BOPIS from start to finish will result in happy customers, ultimately building their loyalty and trust.
At Diff we do in-depth research to figure out what omnichannel strategy will work best for your ecommerce store. If you have questions about omnichannel and optimizing BOPIS, let’s chat!
More from Diff Agency:
This article originally appeared in the Diff Agency blog and has been published here with permission.