Commentary

The BOPIS Way: Consumers Are Shopping Online And Picking Up In-Store This Season

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. And retailers are trying to cope with rising consumer demands for alternatives to in-store shopping.

One of the surging trends is BOPIS — buy online, pick up in-store.

StitcherAds found in an analysis that 30% of online transactions on Facebook and Instagram were fulfilled through BOPIS as retailers entered the pinnacle of the season this month — up 15 percentage points from August 

“Prior to the pandemic, BOPIS was mainly the domain of a select group of retail verticals,” states Bryan Cano, head of media for StitcherAds. “Now, every type of retailer – from grocery to fashion – are offering contactless pickup.” 

StitcherAds, a platform that helps brands drive incremental sales on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, examined online purchase data for nine top US retailers that advertise on Facebook and Instagram, spending $600,000 per month from August to December. 

This coincides with Adobe’s findings in recent holiday studies.   

Adobe reports that curbside pickup increased by 88% YoY from November 1 to December 9. Indeed, that form of delivery comprised a record 23% of all orders. 

Even more impressive, curbside grew 94% YoY from December 1 to December 9. And firms that offer it have a 33% higher conversion rate than companies that don’t. 

On Thanksgiving week alone, BOPIS/curbside pickup increased 140% YoY. And BOPIS was producing a 29% higher conversion rate that week. 

What’s more, Adobe predicts that curbside will exceed 50% of all orders for firms that offer the service now that the December 11 shipping deadline has passed. 

“In the coming days, as shipping costs rise and expected delivery dates extend beyond Christmas, shoppers will flock to the convenience and relative safety of curbside shopping to get the presents and other holiday goods they need,” states Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights methodology.

Adobe analyzed 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites and 100 million SKUs for 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S.

So how can brands handle the massive communications issue created by BOPIS? Texting/SMS and in-app have their place in alerting consumers that pickups are ready, or where to go and how to pick them up. 

But there is no substitute for a triggered/transactional email system that can spell out the order and communicate all of the above while possibly upselling or cross-selling. 

"The default communication is an email with the following sequence: 'Order Confirmed' > 'Order Status Update with Pickup Time' > 'Order Ready for Pickup,' Cano says. 

Cano notes, "Some brands do provide opt-in for text message alerts."

As for apps, Cano says: "Advanced brands will leverage their Apps and use this as a motivator to download the app and provide a push-notification when the order is ready for pickup, e.g., 'Receive real-time status updates by downloading our app!'

BOPIS isn’t going away even after the pandemic recedes. Many consumers are going to continue shopping online, while seeking convenient delivery options. It’s tough enough for big retailers to handle this, but small businesses find it almost impossible without support. 

For them, BOPIS is both a problem and a solution. 

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