Customers have made their wishes clear. When it comes to fulfilment of online purchases, convenience is a priority, says Anatolii Iakimets, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bold Commerce. Even before the pandemic, consumers were regularly turning to delivery alternatives, he says, referencing research from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) that showed over 50 percent of adult shoppers would buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) — also known as click-and-collect.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 lockdowns have pushed consumers to demand better online shopping experiences — and seamless shifts between digital and physical realms — according to a 2021 report from Retail Systems Research (RSR), Retail ecommerce in context: the next iteration. The study reveals that “one out of every two retailers now view BOPIS/BORIS/Curbside pickup as a high value capability, and foundational for continued shopper convenience.” That said, deployment of buy online, pick-up/return in store options can be challenging with a more traditional technology stack.
The convenience factor is a competitive advantage
“People like BOPIS because it is similar to the same-day delivery model, in that you can pick up your order within a couple of hours,” says Iakimets, “but there are no shipping fees or delays.”
It’s why brands embrace the option as well. “Last mile fulfillment is the most challenging and costly component for retailers, and providing fast delivery can be a logistical nightmare,” he says.
Of course, BOPIS puts more strain on in-store logistics and inventory accuracy, says Iakimets. “It’s more than something being available in store. An associate needs to know where it is when they get an order, find the product quickly and package it so it’s ready for pickup.”
Despite this, retailers have more control over this process and are saving money on shipping costs. Plus, it creates another opportunity for shoppers to spend. With BOPIS, brands can also upsell customers when they are at checkout. Iakimets says, 67 percent of click-and-collect shoppers report putting additional items in their cart.
The RSR report states that services like BOPIS “need to become a de-facto part of the shopping experience” otherwise consumers will take their business elsewhere. But with traditional and legacy ecommerce platforms, offering BOPIS is not always simple.
Why traditional ecommerce platforms can make BOPIS a challenge
One of the key challenges to adopting BOPIS is investment in technology that not only enables the process, but allows for a variety of checkout options based on consumer needs and preferences, says Iakimets. The RSR study notes that only four out of 10 retailers have implemented – and are happy with — their solutions for offerings like curbside pickup.
Iakimets says that while most leading retail companies already provide customer pickup options, many other enterprises are struggling to implement BOPIS. This is often because more often than not, legacy ecommerce platforms — that were created over a decade ago for desktops — offer locked in checkout capabilities with limited delivery options. Developers are hesitant to make changes to the checkout process of monolithic platforms (where backend and frontend is tightly integrated), Iakimets explains, because it’s expensive, time-consuming and can trigger security concerns.
This is why leading brands are turning to headless architecture for their ecommerce platform. When retailers decouple frontend (or customer facing) digital experiences from the backend of an ecommerce structure, they can use APIs to create highly-customizable content, including checkouts that offer an array of pickup and delivery methods.
Headless commerce = more agile checkout and delivery options
With a headless checkout solution, retailers will find it much easier to offer shoppers a personalized experience on any fronted platform. “With headless you can do anything,” says Iakimets. “You can have a map widget where customers select a store, shop online there and choose BOPIS as an option at checkout.” Or you can use a widget that allows the customer to enter a zip code, finding the closest store with available pickup inventory.
Customization doesn’t stop there. Modern enterprise checkout solutions should offer retailers:
- Branded experiences that increase conversion, be they pre-built templates or more personalized processes.
- The choice of either one or multi-page layout options, with A/B testing capabilities to determine which works best for customers.
- The ability to offer various transaction experiences on any platform, from web and mobile to emerging channels like voice and IoT.
“The idea is to make it as smooth an experience as possible. Like with split orders, when one item is shipped and another item is picked up,” explains Iakimets. This should all be possible in a single shopping cart, because any bump in the road that makes checkout more complicated or frustrating for the user, might be the reason a brand loses a sale.
Download “Retail ecommerce in context: the next iteration,” sponsored by Bold Commerce, here.