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5 Strategies to Optimize Digital Journeys for BOPIS Customers

Editor's Note: Since shopping features like curbside pickup and Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) are here to stay, brands need tools that remove friction and keep customers engaged throughout the process. Using mobile channels like SMS and Mobile Wallet to drive successful execution of online order pickup strategies, like the 5 below, can separate you from your competitors by helping you successfully bridge online and in-person shopping experiences in a speedier, more convenient manner.

Spurred by global upheaval over the past two years, Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) models have been steadily rising in popularity and adoption for the past two years.

Before the pandemic, just 4% of the 500 largest retailers offered online ordering with curbside pickup. By the end of last summer, the share of retailers offering curbside pickup jumped to 44%.

Though pandemic restrictions are beginning to lift, the BOPIS model is here to stay — 56% of shoppers plan to continue using BOPIS in a post-pandemic landscape. Target has announced plans to expand their BOPIS model by adding Starbucks orders to curbside pickup options.

Retailers who are able to bridge online and in-person shopping experiences will have a strong competitive advantage well into the future. With this in mind, retailers should reassess their customer journeys and optimize digital experiences, adapting to cater to BOPIS customers.

The following tips can guide digital strategy, using BOPIS to boost customer experience and build long-term loyalty.

Tip 1: Think about the experience holistically

When considering how to approach BOPIS within customer journeys, retailers must take a step back and look at the holistic experience- from the mobile app, to the website, to the physical store. BOPIS is part of an omnichannel experience, and all components must speak to each other seamlessly while accurately representing your brand.

The digital components must be frictionless and tailored to the customer's location and preference. However, a successful BOPIS strategy requires the in-person experience to be just as seamless. Before publicly launching BOPIS options, online and in-store teams should coordinate on processes.

Brands must properly prepare store employees so that order handoff is quick and easy for the customer. For the sake of efficiency, this may also mean hiring more in-store employees to support pick-up order fulfillment.

Tip 2: Ensure visibility and accuracy  

One of the key benefits of BOPIS from a customer perspective is that they can see clearly the products in-stock at specific stores, saving them a trip if what they're looking for isn't available. A successful BOPIS model requires real-time inventory information.

Digital channels must have up-to-date details on in stock items across locations, or brands risk losing a customer's trust. Available BOPIS technology can connect components of a retailer's fulfillment system to ensure accuracy.

For brands with distribution centers and brick and mortar locations, BOPIS offers an improved way to manage inventory. Retailers can access either a distribution center or a store to fulfill BOPIS orders, which give brands increased visibility into their full inventory system, which can be communicated to online shoppers.

Tip 3: Make the path frictionless  

BOPIS options should be clear across digital channels, at and before checkout. When using BOPIS models, customers have more urgency than with traditional home delivery services. They often expect to have their orders in hand the same day, within hours of ordering. This leaves little room for error, and makes certain tech tools invaluable.

AI-driven digital experience intelligence platforms alert businesses to friction points and technical issues on their digital platforms immediately, offering actionable insights. This cuts down on response time and minimizes the impact on overall customer experience.

Communication between the customer and the retailer should be streamlined, with immediate communication options enabled. A mobile app with notifications and built-in chat is most effective, followed by two-way SMS communication. Pick-up processes should be communicated clearly through digital channels upon ordering, including when their item is available for pick up.

When customers arrive at the store, the pick-up path should be made clear through prominent signage and designated parking.

Tip 4: Adapt to customer preferences (use the data)  

Given the urgency, inventory constraints and changing localities associated with BOPIS models, understanding consumers and adapting to customer preferences becomes more important than ever. To truly understand what's working and what's not, retailers must work to capture and analyze 100% of customer interactions on digital platforms. Digital experience platforms provide brands with end-to-end visibility of digital customer journeys.

Leveraging the data and analytics, teams can adapt digital platforms to meet customer expectations, and can take it a step further to predict customer behaviors, shifting digital journeys accordingly. Experience analytics also helps flag snags in the digital journey that can lead to abandoned carts (i.e.broken links, faulty promo codes).

Whenever possible, businesses should personalize digital experience for BOPIS customers. This means understanding whether or not a customer is near a brick and mortar location, tailoring product recommendations, personalizing communications and proactively offering customer support if they appear to be struggling.

Tip 5: Lean into the benefits, look for growth opportunities  

Customers appreciate BOPIS options because they can have items in hand immediately, service is quicker, they don't have to worry about shipping costs, and the shopping experience overall is less stressful. Offering BOPIS is a great way to engage with older customers who may be slower to embrace e-commerce. Retailers should lean into all of these key value drivers when developing BOPIS models.

In addition, tracking customer interactions and using machine learning can help businesses identify growth opportunities. For example, if brands see that a large percentage of their customers are opting for BOPIS when discounts are offered, retailers can promote those discounts more widely.

Long term, if more customers use BOPIS options, retailers can save on shipping costs and may increase profitability due to additional in-store purchases — 85% of BOPIS customers report to have made unplanned in-store purchases.

Successful implementation of BOPIS functions can in itself be a growth opportunity, attracting customers and increasing brand loyalty. One in 10 U.S. adults are more likely to shop at a business that offers BOPIS options.

The payoff  

BOPIS could help retailers increase customer engagement, customer happiness and revenue. Digital journeys must be optimized alongside in-store experiences. If approached strategically and holistically, the payoff will be huge. 

This article was written by Yaron Morgenstern from Retail Customer Experience. News Features and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to