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The conversation about brick-and-mortar and online shopping is often one of this versus that — pitting one against the other. Instead of talking about the benefits that businesses could reap with an omnichannel strategy, it’s been more of a black-and-white issue.
But as it turns out, there’s plenty of gray area — and consumers are taking advantage of both online and in-person retail services.
A new consumer survey by JDA Software found that half of respondents used a buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) service in the last 12 months, up 44 percent from a 2015 consumer survey. And 30 percent of respondents used buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) services in the last 12 months, up 50 percent from 2016.
The survey also found that 54 percent of respondents prefer to shop in stores over other channels, and 46 percent prefer digital channels over stores. And while consumers have preferences, they are all in agreement that the most important thing is a quick and easy shopping experience. (Three out of four respondents favored that over a personalized experience.)
The emphasis on ease of experience may be why more customers are taking advantage of offerings like BOPIS and BORIS.
Increase ease of shopping experience
Nearly 40 percent of respondents said they decided to pick up their purchase in the store to avoid home delivery, and 33 percent said they did it to get their item sooner. Similarly, 33 percent of people said they decided to return their online purchase in the store to avoid delivery hassles, and 18 percent did so to receive faster refunds or exchanges.
These types of omnichannel services have obvious benefits for customers — they receive or return products faster and don’t have to deal with delivery services.
But there are big benefits for businesses as well: You’re bringing shoppers into your store and getting another opportunity to wow them with your products, prices, and service.
Encourage higher spending
A study in Harvard Business Review also found that when consumers conducted online research on a retailer’s site or on the sites of other companies, it resulted in 13-percent-higher in-store spending. And it’s not just a one-time occurrence; six months later, omnichannel shoppers had visited the retailer’s store 23 percent more often and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than single-channel shoppers.
To get your own BOPIS or BORIS offering off the ground, you need to develop a campaign — via email, social, in-store signage, etc. — that communicates the new options. You might even think about incentivizing customers to use them with discounts. (Eighty percent of shoppers said they would consider a BOPIS option if retailers incentivized them for doing so, according to the JDA survey.)
Overcome friction points
Of course, services like BOPIS and BORIS are not without their complaints. Some of the frustrations associated with BOPIS services can make them more of a hassle than they’re worth.
Twenty-three percent of consumers reported that it took store staff a long time to retrieve their order or staff were unable to find it in the store system, and 16 percent noted that there were no dedicated staff for BOPIS orders, according to the JDA survey.
Companies looking to adopt BOPIS and BORIS services should learn from these findings to make them a simple, painless experience for consumers. They should train dedicated staff to handle transactions and post clear, prominent signage for shoppers so they don’t have to wander around the store and ask for help before finding the pickup and returns desk.
A high level of customer service throughout the pickup and return process can only strengthen consumers’ confidence in your brand.