Definition

BOPUS (buy online, pick up in-store)

Contributor(s): Kate Brush

BOPUS (buy online, pick up in-store) is a business model that allows consumers to shop and place orders online and then pick up their purchases in the brick-and-mortar store, often within the same day. BOPUS, sometimes referred to as 'click-and-collect,' is a part of the larger multichannel shopping trend that has been emerging, which allows customers to merge online, in-store and mobile channels to make purchases.

BOPUS allows consumers to combine the ease and convenience of online shopping with the speed, security and added convenience of picking up their order in-store. It also allows retailers to reshape their customer experience and adapt it to the current digital and mobile era, thus attracting shoppers to their physical stores and opening up the opportunity to make additional sales, strengthen customer engagement and increase brand loyalty. This is especially important as online retailers gain greater dominance within their markets, taking customers and sales away from brick-and-mortar operations.

How does BOPUS work?

BOPUS is built on the concept that a customer can scroll through a company's website, see what is available at each store location in real time, place desired items in their shopping cart, complete the purchase online and then pick everything up in the physical store. Packages will often be stored at the customer service desk or in a designated location for in-store pickups. For many retailers, the largest challenge in this business model is reducing the time it takes to process orders, select items and package everything for pickup.

At a minimum, the BOPUS business model requires a retailer to build real time inventory visibility for each specific location so customers can have a constantly updated view of what's currently available. However, as the BOPUS trend continues to become more popular, some stores are being forced to reorganize their layouts to better handle the surge of online orders and to accommodate for curbside pickup service -- a benefit retailers are adding to their BOPUS plans. The BOPUS business model may also require companies to improve their inventory and supply chain management to guarantee the rapid fulfillment of orders.

There are several ways in which retailers can improve the BOPUS experience for their customers, including:

  • Using augmented reality apps, such as the Ikea Place app, which allows customers to virtually see how a piece of furniture will look in their home through their smartphone camera.
  • Providing personalized offers and content, such as discounts and offers, to encourage additional purchases.
  • Offering COPUS -- or customize online, pick up in-store -- to further enhance the personalization of the customer's experience.
  • Using geolocation, perimeter sensors and mobile apps to sense when a customer is nearby and provide relevant offers or messages, such as a deal that pops up for a tutorial from a staff member on a product the customer is just arriving to pick up.

What customers want from BOPUS

The BOPUS business model is an attempt to fulfill a variety of customer desires in order to improve satisfaction and loyalty. Consumers who choose BOPUS acknowledge that they do not want to be stuck waiting for a package without a set delivery time and they want:

  • to be able to see and hold merchandise before taking it home;
  • the speed and convenience of having the purchase ready and waiting at the counter;
  • to avoid shipping costs;
  • the ability to more easily browse through all merchandise;
  • the chance to buy products that quickly run out of stock;
  • 24/7 access to product information; and
  • the ability to pick up the product whenever it is convenient for them.

Benefits of BOPUS

BOPUS has a huge impact on increasing in-store purchases for brick-and-mortar retailers. It provides business with a new way to engage, interact and influence buyer behaviors while also offering consumers the perfect combination of online and in-store experiences.

Other benefits for retailers include:

  • Reduced operational costs.
  • A competitive edge against online retailers.
  • A chance to bring customers to the physical store who would otherwise shop entirely online.
  • An opportunity to generate additional purchases by bringing the customer to the physical store.
  • Multiple touchpoints and ways for businesses to interact with consumers, both online and in-store.
  • Increased incentive for customers to visit the physical store since they can see that the product they want is in fact there.
  • The chance to stand out to customers by providing an experience that is convenient, personal and memorable, thus fostering brand loyalty.

Additional benefits for consumers include:

  • The ability to take as much or as little time as needed during the purchasing process.
  • Instant gratification through the ability to almost immediately pick up a purchase in-store, and not have to wait for a package to be delivered.
  • Easier return processes.
  • Prevention of package theft since deliveries are not being left unattended on shoppers' porches.
  • The ability to view and inspect the purchase in-store before taking it home increases customer satisfaction.
  • Eliminates shipping fees.
  • Decreases the time customers have to spend shopping in-store.
  • Customers can guarantee that the item they need is available before they go to the store, thus decreasing frustration.

Examples of BOPUS

The BOPUS business model continues to become more and more popular as all types of retailers continue to implement the service. Various large organizations have chosen to implement BOPUS, including Walmart, Amazon and Target.

Walmart offers Pickup Towers and Lockers in its stores that stow orders for customers until they are ready to pick them up. The retail corporation also offers curbside pickup for ultimate convenience, ease and the ability to pick up orders 24 hours a day at available locations. Furthermore, they encourage their customers to utilize the BOPUS services by offering discounts on BOPUS orders and piloting programs that would allow EBT cardholders to participate in BOPUS services.

Target offers two-hour pickup in many of its stores and has also started implementing a curbside pickup option. In addition, Target is opening 20,000-square-foot stores on college campuses across the U.S. These small stores would allow college students to shop for all their necessary school and dormitory room supplies online and then pick up in the store on the college campus, potentially weeks later. This could greatly benefit college students and their families by eliminating the need to move large amounts of items or visit furniture stores near the new school.

Amazon has joined the BOPUS trend by launching its own BOPUS service with pickup sites around the U.S. Furthermore, their purchase of Whole Foods -- the American multinational supermarket chain -- has allowed them to place pickup sites and Amazon Lockers in every Whole Foods grocery store across the country.

This was last updated in November 2019

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