Buying Online, Picking Up in Store - Delivering the Omnichannel Experience Your Customers Need

Today’s consumers are no longer playing the game of online versus brick-and-mortar retailing. The technology that surrounds us allows us to connect, shop and work from almost any point in the World. In commercial point of view this could mean only one thing - the traditional shoppers became multi-channel oriented customers. This trend, also known as omnichannel is a sales approach, which as Google describes,  seeks “to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store”. Retailers struggling to meet this criteria are more likely to lose business in favor of the competition. Closing the omnichannel gap appears to be not an easy task for more than 70% of retailers who took part in recent Mozu research stating that they have not completed the omnichannel integration for their businesses. 

One of the possibilities for closing this gap is incorporating concepts which will improve the customer experience and offer something, which will not only ease the shopping process but the lifestyle of a customer in general. One of the most discussed options for this is the Buy Online Pickup In Store concept. (BOPIS), which became extremely popular in 2014. This approach allows customers to purchase the products they want online and pick them up later from the retailer’s physical shop nearby.

Why implementing BOPIS

From customer’s point of view this could be a service, which could give them more flexibility and options to choose from. Shoppers can get orders faster by ordering a product and picking it up the same day at their favored store. This will let them avoid costly shipping and delivery fees that cause hesitation at checkout, at the same time giving them access to a convenient physical location in which to manage returns and seek expertise.

Adding buying online, picking up in store as an additional service for your customers would mean that you would become a prefered choice for people who would definitely want to take advantage of the flexibility this method offers. This would not only increase your online sales, but would also bring more people to your physical stores. By giving online shoppers access to the inventory and service resources of local retail stores, products that were historically too challenging for online sale can be added to the mix.

Implementing the Model

Regardless of the fact that this obviously brings improvements for both sides, as mentioned above more than 70% of the retailers are still not utilizing this model because of the complicated and costly technology that needs to be implemented. Yes, retailers will face some difficulties,  but at the end of the day the benefits of this are too considerable for any retailer, big or small to ignore. More often than not the right approach to be taken here is to put yourself in the  customer’s shoes. What customers want? To get what they have paid for. And if that is not the case with your store they will go somewhere else.

Main difficulties

One of the main obstacles in front of a retailer is dealing with the logistics. There are couple of approaches here:

  • Collecting from an inventory which is already in the store - This is the most complicated and hard to implement option here, because it involves substantial planning of your supplies and their distribution amongst your chain of shops. It will also require more complex online ecommerce platform as well as CMS ready to deal with the cross channel selling process. 
  • Ship-to-store - allows an online shopper to have an item delivered to the store from a distribution center or supplier, and made available for collection when it is not possible to find an item in stock at a local store.

Which one you will prefer depends on the way your business is constructed, but you will always have to think that bringing more satisfaction to customers almost everytime results in more engagement from their side.

Speaking about customer satisfaction let’s not forget that offering a buy online pickup in store option means that your customers will actually visit your store. Here is the place to refer to the service they will receive at this point. The store associate can transform the in-store pick-up in an  experience, which is worth the walk or they could make you wish you have never chosen this option in the first place. That is why your employees training is one of the essential parts required to deliver this service successfully. After all, convenience and speed is what made your customer choose this option in the first place.


It will not take long before you start to experience the benefits from the implementation of the BOPIS model. A bright example of this statement is what Macy’s have reported at the National Retail Federation Conference in  2015. They announced a nearly $1 billion boost in sales from its in-store pick-up solution. Pure play e-retailers including Amazon, Warby Parker, and Zappos have all affirmed the value of the physical store with their recent expansions into brick and mortar, and many other e-retailers are following this trend.


Omnichannel fulfillment provides more than just a boost to the bottom line. As this CFI Group study sponsored by eBay enterprise states - 78% of customers consider in-store pickup of online orders either important or very important, proving that the benefits of in-store pickup are clear. Giving the consumers exactly what they want will always be a pivotal part of every business and when the percentage of customers, who would appreciate this kind of service is so high it is definitely worth experimenting. When executed properly buy online pickup in store could be the milestone, which you can step onto to deliver your customers an unparalleled customer service. 

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