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Buy Online Pickup In Store

Buy Online Pickup In Store: BOPIS Growth Requires a New Metrics Mindset

What is BOPIS?

Thanks to its popularity with shoppers, Buy Online, Pickup In Store, aka BOPIS, is now a must for retailers. Implementing the service successfully not only requires overhauls to online and store offerings, but a fresh approach to performance metrics to reflect the new omnichannel reality.

Despite the growing popularity and availability of BOPIS, most omnichannel retailers don’t know how it impacts the bottom line. Seven in 10 merchants say they’re unsure whether their BOPIS operation is profitable, according to Incisiv; technology researcher Forrester found just 14% of retailers completely agree that they have the right metrics in place to measure BOPIS omnichannel efforts.

The lack of insight into BOPIS performance may stem from the continuing dominance of the “last-click” mentality concerning retail analytics. Merchants who use last-click attribution credit revenue to the most recent touchpoint shoppers used before ordering. The model is a poor fit for the come-and-go, research-intensive, channel-hopping reality of shopping today,; interestingly, eMarketer found that more than 40% of merchants still assign credit to a single touchpoint.

BOPIS Retail Strategy

For example, retailers could credit the eCommerce site as the driver of BOPIS orders, while assigning purchases of additional items on order pickup to stores — splitting what should be a holistic picture. Siloed data prevents merchants from tracking the efficiency of the BOPIS process from end to end and pinpointing where improvements are needed.

To get an accurate picture of BOPIS’ impact, merchants need to rethink their metrics along with their operations. They should:

1) Obsess Over Time to Delivery — whether in-store, curbside, or at home

BOPIS can meet consumers’ escalating need for swift order fulfillment — but only if retailers deliver on its promise of fast, convenient pickup. Inefficiencies are still rampant; Chain Store Age reports that 77% of retailers primarily ship orders from a central eCommerce distribution center rather than from nearby stores, which could be less costly as well as quicker.

2) Capture and Track Store Associates’ BOPIS-related Activities

Logging staff hours spent on the order pickup desk isn’t enough; merchants should also track who picks how many orders and when, as well as which store zones contain goods most frequently bought via BOPIS orders, and adjust associate assignments accordingly.

3) Survey BOPIS Customers

Merchants should proactively seek customer experience feedback by tapping Buy Online Pickup In Store customers for surveys that specifically address the online/offline experience; this includes online inventory accuracy, navigating the store to the pickup counter, and what other aisles customers shopped on their visit.

How do you measure BOPIS retail success?

GDPR requirements

GDPR Requirements: Why Merchants Should Stay Ahead with Privacy Practices

Last year marked the start of a new wave of digital privacy regulation that has now reached U.S. shores. To successfully navigate the changing tides, merchants should embrace both the spirit and the letter of new GDPR requirements and institute transparent privacy controls across touchpoints.

As of last May, Europe’s GDPR requires companies to request consumer consent prior to collecting data; in addition, they must provide the tools for severing the agreement at any time. The year prior, Canadian anti-spam legislation went into effect, impacting not just email but social media and SMS practices.

In the U.S., the start of 2019 marked implementation of a Vermont law regulating online data brokers;next year California will enact what is set to become the strictest data privacy law in the country. Several other states have passed new data collection rules, leaving merchants who are increasingly reliant on consumer data for personalization wondering how they can navigate the choppy legislative waters.

Happily, regulatory compliance can also satisfy consumers’ dual desire for control and relevance. Deloitte found that 73% of consumers are willing to share data if they have control. Furthermore, 6 in 10 consumers say they’d like to receive individualized discounts or promotions. To strike the right privacy balance, merchants should:

Explain GDPR Requirement Practices Plainly, Early and Often

Merchants should parse the legalese in their privacy policies into plain English for GDPR requirements; this succinct version then can be used in a pop-up box or even on-page to quickly summarize their company’s data collection practices and obtain consent.

Implement Best Practices for Email

Email firm Litmus found that the majority of GDPR-compliant brands saw their list size decrease by 10% or less. Nonetheless, merchants should carefully vet their signup and sending protocols, and apply double opt-in routines as well as prominent opt-out language.

Offer a Comprehensive Preference Center

Savvy merchants have long offered email subscribers “preference centers” for throttling messaging cadence and content. Now they can use the same concept to offer easy access to a broad set of data preferences: from email to SMS to stored size and color picks. To make these controls prominent, merchants should take a page from StitchFix and other popular subscription services; requiring shoppers to build — and maintain — a “style profile” ensures relevance.

GDPR requirements


Prepare to communicate proactively about data breaches.

In the event of a data breach, the fallout in lost sales and reputation damage can be significant. Sellers should have a response plan at the ready that spells out at least the nature and extent of the breach. Additionally, the response plan should show what steps the brand is planning to take to repair security in the future, and what services will be offered to data theft victims.

What steps are you taking to prepare for privacy regulatory compliance?

Learn how Kibo approaches GDPR requirements for the businesses and consumers.

o2o online to offline

How to Promote O2O Beyond the Product Page

Today’s path to purchase criss-crosses the online/offline divide multiple times en route to order completion. In order to showcase their options to serve shoppers, merchants should promote o2o- offline services in a variety of ways online; namely, not just with a store pickup option on the product page.

What is o2o Commerce?

By now the evidence is overwhelming that shoppers prefer to use online tools to research offline purchases; more than half of all retail sales are influenced by online interactions, according to technology researcher Forrester. In stores, shoppers remain connected to the wealth of product information available online via their phones; some 71% of shoppers pull out their mobile devices while in the aisles, according to Mobile Marketer.

Merchants have adapted to this changing behavior by placing a greater focus on flexible fulfillment services; some popular options include universal inventory visibility and Buy Online, Pickup In-Store. To ensure shoppers know about those services – as well as other tactile “see and try” store experiences – sellers must thoroughly integrate online-to-offline (O2O) messaging in online promotions. Among the tactics to try:

1. Think O2O(2O) with consultative sales promotions

Merchants should encourage online shoppers to make store visits to evaluate goods prior to purchase; additionally, they should equip store associates with the online tools to source exactly the right items from across the retailer’s entire inventory selection. Nordstrom heavily promotes several flavors of in-store stylist services throughout its eCommerce site, from “gift scout” helpers for finding presents to personal shopping assistants. Seasonal promotions such as this spring makeup consultation event are highlighted on the home page.

2. Convince cart abandoners to complete orders … anywhere they want to

Triggered emails intended to convince shopping cart abandoners to complete online purchases may seem an odd location for offline promotion. But retailers that have eliminated internal barriers to innovation recognize that winning the sale, wherever it occurs, is what matters; consequently, giving hesitant online shoppers multiple avenues for completing their purchase boosts the odds that they’ll find the right fulfillment fit.

3. Mind the offline online marketing opportunities

“Offline” or “off-page” SEO refers to activities on properties other than the flagship eCommerce site that affect search engine ranking – and the concept is just as valid for O2O marketing. Merchants should not only monitor social media mentions, but listings on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews. Prompt and thoughtful replies to criticism and amplification of positive feedback (with permission) via other marketing channels heighten perceptions that shoppers’ voices matter; it shows retailers are willing to adapt their offline offerings in response to online feedback. Paid placements on social media and review platforms offering discounts or VIP experiences to store visitors can reach shoppers as they weigh where to go.

How are you promoting online-to-offline opportunities and services? Learn how with Kibo.

online to offline O2O shopping

O2O: 4 Easy Ways To Drive Online to Offline Store Visits Via Social Media

As online mobile shopping grows, omnichannel retailers should take advantage of social media’s dominance to promote the benefits of online to offline commerce.

Mobile devices play a role in a third of all retail transactions at some point on the path to purchase, with mobile purchases making up 40% of all online sales, Adweek reported. Many of those transactions take place offline, as shoppers browse products online and purchase offline. Four in five consumers who want an item immediately prefer to purchase in a store, and 61% prefer shopping with a brand with physical outlets as well as an online presence, Google found.

To reach mobile O2O consumers, retail brands have optimized their mobile sites and launched shopping apps. But mobile also strengthens marketers’ arguments for investment in social media.

The hunt for direct ROI on social investments has long bedeviled merchants but on mobile, there’s no doubt that social media dominates. Three-quarters of the minutes U.S. adults spend interacting with social media occur on mobile devices, according to Nielsen. Facebook and Facebook Messenger are the top two mobile apps; ranking slightly below, Instagram and Snapchat make the top 10, comScore found, while the only retail app to make the top 20 is Amazon’s.

That means social platforms give retail brands an unmatched opportunity for visibility, especially among new audiences who might not otherwise navigate to a brand’s mobile Web site or app. Consequently, because mobile device content can be context-aware, promoting unique store experiences is a natural fit. To do so:

Increase Foot Traffic: Offer store-specific coupons, scannable direct from the smartphone.

Sprout Social found that special discounts or coupons are what consumers want most from brands on social media; incidentally, merchants should give followers access to store-exclusive discounts to encourage foot traffic.

Personalized Interactions: Localize social messaging for customer service.

Two in three consumers say they use social media to contact brands, according to Social Media Today. Built-in messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger can help merchants meet high expectations for swift response times. Messenger aids with routing inquiries to local staff which not only addresses questions more meaningfully than a call center response, but connects shoppers with local names and faces in the process.

Some leading brands are even localizing social messaging chatbots to schedule in-store services such as repairs, stylist appointments, and classes, as Sephora does with its Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Drive Conversions: Promote store events using Stories.

Viewership for Instagram Stories, which link images and videos in a short sequence, may soon beat the News Feed as the top social media viewing mode. Merchants should use Stories to spotlight store activities like:

  1. In-store events
  2. How-to videos showcasing local staff expertise
  3. Interactive polls gathering input on store displays
  4. Local specials

Grow Store Revenue: Consider localized social media ad plays.

As organic reach declines due to stiffening competition and algorithm changes, merchants are increasing ad spend to guarantee visibility. Retailers can keep costs in check and deliver ultra-relevant messaging by availing themselves of increasingly-refined tools, such as Facebook’s location-based ad options. This helps reach shoppers with offers mapped to store locations.

Whatever your goals are for online to offline revenue, Kibo’s unified commerce software can enable you to achieve results where you are now experiencing pain points. Learn more here: https://kibocommerce.com/company/contact-us/

retailers digital transformation

Making the Most of Holiday Return Season

Merchants may dread the surge of returns that inevitably follows the holiday season – but with a combination of transparency and omnichannel savvy, they can transform the process into an opportunity to earn loyalty.

The rise of online shopping has brought with it an increase in returns. Some 10% of all retail purchases are returned – and during the holidays, that percentage is higher, with some 28% of 2017 holiday gifts returned or exchanged, according to data from Red Stag and Optoro. Online, the percentage is higher still, with 44% of U.S. online consumers having returned a purchase in the past year, according to the 2018 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey.

As we wade through returns season, merchants can convert these potential losses into new opportunities. Just as cart abandonment is now viewed as part of the research and consideration phase of the purchase cycle, so too can holiday returns become a means to winning new and repeat business. An overwhelming 95% of customers overall say they’ll buy again from a retailer offering a positive returns experience – including 54% of new customers, Narvar found.

To do so, sellers should focus on streamlining the process as much as possible across touchpoints, with clear messaging throughout. Among the tactics to consider:

Turn off the meter.  

Many online buyers freely admit to buying multiple sizes or styles and keeping only those items that work. More than 40% of U.S. retailers say they’ve seen an increase in these “intentional returns” in the past year, according to Brightpearl. In response to this trend, in May Amazon announced it would shut down accounts of buyers who return items too frequently, and some 60% of merchants in Brightpearl’s survey said they were considering following suit.

But during the holidays, merchants should ease up on enforcement of such policies. Blameless gift recipients should be able to return or exchange unwanted presents without worrying about how the transaction will impact their standing with the retailer.

Communicate policies clearly.

Merchants should message returns timeframes, costs, and restrictions at multiple points on the path to purchase, and restate them clearly in post-purchase transactional messaging, as well as on gift receipts and package inserts. Given that nearly half of shoppers check return policies prior to buying, according to data from Narvar, it’s especially crucial for sellers to spotlight the information early and often.

Ramp up stores for BORIS, not just BOPIS.

Omnichannel merchants have a distinct advantage when it comes to returns, given that 58% of shoppers prefer to handle the process in a store, according to the UPS survey. Buy Online, Return in Store (BORIS) transactions should be as seamless as in-store order pickup, with store directional signage designating where to go for returns, and staff well-versed in holiday policies. The value of a good BORIS program should not be overlooked, as shoppers who enter a store with the intention to return an item very often leave having made a new purchase.

Re-circulate merchandise via store-to-store fulfillment.

More than half of returned merchandise goes back on store shelves, according to a Supply Chain Management Review survey; merchants with a distributed order management platform can boost efficiency by routing items to the outlets where they’re most likely to sell.

How are you handling holiday returns?

A pile of gambling chips in a casino

Cyber Week Takeaway: go all in on omnichannel … or go home

As the holidays enter the final stretch, strong results from the season’s peak week show that merchants must go all-in on omnichannel implementation to meet shoppers’ expectations.

Cyber Week results, from Thanksgiving on Nov. 22 until the following Wednesday, Nov. 28, show that merchants using Kibo saw their online sales grow between 8 and 12 percent over last year. And Kibo eCommerce customers experienced a healthy 21% increase in average order volume over 2017 numbers.

To achieve this success, merchants took advantage of real-time personalization techniques and omnichannel order management – technologies that are increasingly must-haves for modern brands. A deeper dive into the numbers show that merchants who go all-in on comprehensive implementations and plan for sustained peak holiday activity are most likely to succeed in 2019 and beyond.

For maximum sales growth, personalize far beyond product page cross-sells.

Throughout Cyber Week, personalization drove peak performance for Kibo clients. On Black Friday, the average order value was 99.85% higher for purchases that included real-time product recommendations versus those without them. For the week overall, the AOV boost for recommendations was 50.79% – tangible proof of consumers’ preference for tailored shopping experiences. To make the most of the opportunity, merchants should implement personalized recommendations widely, including:

Upgrade fulfillment to handle peak weeks – not peak days.

Kibo order management clients saw an uptick of 40% in sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but Cyber Week overall notched still higher growth – 44%. Promotional efforts to transform red-letter sales days into week-long events are paying off, creating a high-volume period merchants must support with flawless order execution. They should:

  • Fine-tune BOPIS execution for extended timelines. Some 45% of consumers said in October they planned to use BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store) this season, according to Deloitte. Giving customers more time to claim orders boosts convenience, enabling them to avoid peak-day crowds.
  • Staff for the duration, not just Black Friday doorbusters. Demand for online order pickup and ship-from-store processing stays high throughout the peak week, rather than spiking for a single day; merchants must boost store staffing and invest in comprehensive training for fulfillment roles.

What are the holiday takeaways for your brand?

Photo credit: Jamie Adams – Wikicommons

Boscov’s Wins Gold in Retail TouchPoints 2018 Store Operations Superstar Awards

At Kibo, we pride ourselves in working with each and every customer to serve as a trusted partner and guide them in the age of digital transformation by driving innovative solutions for our customers. As the saying goes, “our customers are our most valuable assets,” and we love to see their hard work and innovation be recognized by notable industry watchers. As such, we were thrilled to hear that Retail TouchPoints recognized Boscov’s as a Store Operations Superstar Award Winner for its work in Last Mile Fulfillment!

Established in 1914, Boscov’s is the oldest family-owned department store in the U.S., with 47 stores in the Mid-Atlantic region and a commitment to thoughtful, prudent growth strategies and fostering customer loyalty. It’s this focus on smart growth that makes Boscov’s an industry outlier. In a landscape where department stores are shuttering, Boscov’s continues to grow and thrive.

“It’s about loyalty to the Boscov’s brand,” says Toni Miller, Boscov’s Senior Executive Vice President. “We’re their local store, and have been for generations. They see us and say, ‘That’s my Boscov’s.’”

In an effort to meet their customers’ needs for more flexible online order fulfillment — as well as remain competitive in an evolving retail market — Boscov’s worked with Kibo to launch a meticulously-planned initiative to roll out a buy-online, pick-up in store program in 2016.

Impetus for Change

Boscov’s made the move to online sales — offering ship-to-home — over 12 years ago. Since then, online sales have accounted for roughly 5% of their total sales. Soon after launching their eCommerce platform the merchandising team tracked credit card purchases and found that their most frequent online customers were also reliable in-store customers — evidence of a base of truly multi-channel customers. Further exploration into these customers showed that they wanted a BOPUS option. In response to this demand for greater flexibility in online order fulfillment, Boscov’s launched an ambitious project to rollout BOPUS to all of its locations.

In keeping with their strategy of thoughtful, prudent growth, the Boscov’s team took a studied and deliberate approach to their BOPUS implementation. They began by undertaking a thorough investigation of other retailers’ BOPUS programs — including an extensive secret shopper project in which they carefully evaluated the end-to-end consumer experience offered by their competition.

When it came time to build out the technical infrastructure of their program, they partnered with Kibo to create a scalable platform that integrated with their in-house eCommerce solution and the handheld inventory devices used by their in-store associates.

When launching in-store pickup, the team rolled the program out in four phases, to ensure that every associate in each store was properly trained on both the software as well as the process behind the program. The implementation team, which included executives from the corporate office, spent many hours in each store working alongside the in-store teams to maximize program adoption. More than anything else, this focus on motivation and skills-building contributed to the success of their BOPUS program. Not long after launch, employees began holding friendly competitions to see who could fulfill in-store pickup orders the fastest.

Results and Next Steps

Since its full rollout, the Boscov’s BOPUS program has proven wildly successful — resulting in a 40% attachment rate, meaning that every $100 of BOPUS spend has resulted in an additional $40 of in-store spend when the consumer comes into the store to retrieve her order.

The BOPUS program is also expected to give Boscov’s an edge during the holiday season, by allowing their online shoppers to make last-minute BOPUS purchases that could not otherwise be fulfilled through conventional ship-to-home — effectively extending their online holiday buying season by an entire week.

And as an added benefit, the Boscov’s team has discovered that implementing BOPUS has increased the accuracy of its in-store inventory, which has in turn improved their ship-to-home efficiency as well. Finally, having successfully rolled out its in-store pickup program, the Boscov’s team is now looking to expand its use of the Kibo platform to manage their ship-to-home order fulfillment as well.

We are thrilled to see Boscov’s recognized for its innovative work in up-leveling its customer experience initiative through last mile fulfillment! Congratulations Boscov’s!

Order Management System, Direct to Consumer Order Fuflfillment

3 Steps Manufacturers Need to Take to Sell Directly to B2B Buyers

Manufacturers may hesitate to invest in eCommerce because of potential channel conflict with retail partners. But there’s a lucrative online market that manufacturers can build on online functionality to own: B2B corporate sales.

When it comes to direct online sales, the market for B2B purchasing dwarfs direct-to-consumer retail spending. Technology researcher Forrester estimates that B2B eCommerce will reach $1.2 trillion in the U.S. by 2021, almost exactly double the 2021 forecast of $648 million for B2C retail sales transacted directly online.

Furthermore, B2B buyers are increasingly bringing their expectations as individual consumers to the workplace, and prefer online convenience to working with a sales rep. More than half of B2B buyers in a recent B2B E-Commerce World survey said they considered “very important” online self-service tools and online returns. Overall, 48% of buyers said they made at least half of their business’ purchases online.

These purchasers aren’t typically served by consumer retail brands — which means manufacturers with online capabilities can build on direct-to-consumer eCommerce functionality to court a B2B audience without fear of channel conflict. As they explore the B2B possibilities, manufacturers should consider these best practices:

Offer tailored entry points into the product catalog.
Manufacturers should streamline product navigation to focus on B2B-friendly categories and incorporate relevant cross-sells and up-sells, as Kibo client MyMMs.com does in its “For Your Business” section. The tool for customizing candy colors and designs is tailored for business, with options to upload a logo and select packaging in large quantities for trade show giveaways.

Use personalization to streamline purchasing.

Business buyers have an incentive to create login accounts on eCommerce sites — they can save their shopping carts and payment information to ease repeat purchases. Manufacturers should further encourage loyalty by streamlining the purchase process via personalization — including one-click ordering and custom navigation that speeds access to order histories and recently-purchased items.

Include retail partners according to their capabilities.
Manufacturers who want to bring retail partners on board as they expand to serve corporate clients can design front-end experiences accordingly. Manufacturers may want to tap retail outlets for corporate order pickup, localized delivery services, or returns; while manufacturers primarily serving other businesses can give corporate sales teams exclusive purchasing access so they can place orders on behalf of customers.

Manufacturers, how are you catering to corporate buyers through your online offerings?

3 Ways to Brace for Online Sales Tax Changes

So far, June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on sales tax collection has had little effect on merchants. But amidst ongoing debate in Congress and statehouses nationwide, sellers should brace for change in the coming year, and prepare to mobilize omnichannel efforts to smooth the transition.

The Supreme Court’s South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. decision opened the door to sales tax collection for online purchases, but states are still formulating their responses. A Congressional hearing last month gathered input from supporters and opponents of the ruling, while past attempts at creating federal policy to simplify the existing patchwork of sales-tax rates and rules have continued to stall.

With so much variance in state-by-state sales tax rates, compliance can be tricky and costly.

With so much variance in state-by-state sales tax rates, compliance can be tricky and costly.
Source: Wikideas1 on wikicommons https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57036307

Amidst the confusion, merchants wonder what they can do to prepare for whatever the eventual result may be. The good news is that they can position themselves for success now – and many of the tools they need may already be available to them. Among the moves to consider:

Secure a nimble solution now for eCommerce sales tax compliance. Keeping up to date on changing legislation state by state and municipality by municipality can be onerous for small- to mid-sized merchants. They should verify whether their eCommerce software integrates with specialized solutions that help with up-to-the-minute sales tax compliance. Kibo clients can activate Avalara with a one-click integration, while the service TaxCloud is free to merchants.

Offset online sales tax with alternative discounts. One analyst conjectured that 1 in 10 online shoppers will revert to purchasing in physical stores due to implementation of online sales taxes. Merchants should anticipate that the bump in total order cost may dissuade price-conscious shoppers or buyers of big-ticket items, and find other ways to motivate the sale. Item price discounts, double loyalty rewards, or value-added services such as white-glove delivery and installation are among the options.

Strengthen online/offline connections to win sales. Merchants with physical outlets have an advantage if online sales taxes are levied more widely, in that store and eCommerce site pricing can be completely consistent. Shoppers can opt for stores to receive items instantly – or avail themselves of free store pickup for online orders as a means of skipping delivery costs and  keeping the online order total as low as possible. Merchants should work to fully integrate back-end operations in real time and streamline store pickup processes to encourage fluid omnichannel experiences.

How are you planning for potential sales tax adjustments in the coming year?

Holiday Gift Guide

Distributed Order Management: Holidays in August Edition

As summer swelters, merchants are busy planning for the winter season’s peak sales bonanza. New eCommerce site features and store designs may dazzle shoppers as they make their holiday debuts, but just as important – if not more so – is the engine with the potential to integrate these touchpoints into a seamless whole: the distributed order management system.

Retailers increasingly recognize the importance of fulfillment alternatives such as Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) and “endless aisle” capabilities that link store shoppers to online inventory. That’s because such services are increasingly popular, especially over the holidays.  In 2017, for example, 58% of holiday shoppers reported they planned to use BOPIS – a 25% increase from the prior year, according to Kibo’s Holiday Consumer Trends report.

Furthermore, merchants of all stripes – from online-only retailers to brand manufacturers selling direct to consumer  – increasingly face pressure to boost order fulfillment speed. Thanks to the wide popularity of Amazon’s Prime service, which includes free 2-day shipping and reportedly counts more than 95 million members in the U.S., expectations for swift and free holiday delivery are on the rise. Last year, a holiday survey from research firm, Deloitte, found that 64% of shoppers would pay nothing extra to receive holiday orders in 2 days, and 65% believed they could order holiday gifts after December 17 and still receive free on-time delivery for Christmas.

Robust order management software is key to providing both in-store fulfillment services and the swiftest possible delivery options – but merchants have so far been slow to prioritize overhauling legacy systems. Technology researcher, Forrester, found that just 5% of retailers ranked order management as a top operations initiative for 2018, which means that many sellers may find themselves ill-equipped to realize their holiday fulfillment goals.

Even those who’ve taken steps to modernize their omnichannel fulfillment systems are fast approaching “code freeze”, when new features and integrations are put on hold to ensure the stability of the eCommerce site, mobile apps, and back-end systems through the holiday season. But given the high consumer expectations for seamless fulfillment, merchants can – and should – continue to work on optimizing order management operations through the end of summer and into fall.

Fortunately, there are many order management improvements that retailers and online merchants can make which don’t require a total code overhaul or new integrations.

 

Repeatedly test BOPIS features end-to-end.

Retailers with physical stores, as well as manufacturers who’ve integrated their website offerings to feature retail partners, have much to gain from a seamless BOPIS operation. Not only can fast, free order pickup satisfy holiday shoppers’ need for fulfillment speed; as the clock counts down to the holidays, BOPIS can bridge the gap between online and offline for last-minute shoppers who order too late for home delivery. In fact, some 30% of merchants last year didn’t publicize guaranteed delivery cutoff dates. And those that did set the cutoff an average of one day earlier, compared to the previous year. This change was in part due to the availability of last-minute alternatives such as BOPIS.

To realize the full potential of BOPIS for the holidays, merchants should test the functionality of their system extensively, including monitoring online inventory visibility for accuracy, fine-tuning post-purchase transactional emails and notifications, streamlining mobile BOPIS features, and using outsider “mystery shoppers” to ensure store signage is clear and pickup counter service is on-point.

 

Prepare to capitalize on pickup traffic in stores.

Some 36% of consumers who use store pickup report buying additional items off the shelves, according to Forrester. Anecdotal evidence suggests that during the holidays, that percentage is even higher.

BOPIS users who buy additional items say that special deals highlighted in-store are among the top reasons they make additional purchases, according to Forrester. Merchants should therefore ensure that store pickup customers are cognizant of the latest holiday deals. Transactional emails and pickup notifications should feature an invitation to receive localized deal alerts via email and/or mobile.Signage near the pick-up counter should give shoppers another opportunity to learn about in-store events and promotions. Assortments of stocking stuffers and other gift-friendly merchandise should also be on prominent display nearby.

 

Train seasonal store workers to “save the sale.”

More than half of store shoppers are willing to have out-of-stock items ordered online and shipped to their home, Forrester found, suggesting that merchants who are well-prepared can indeed “save the sale.”  Shoppers are increasingly using this option, with close to 60% of participants in Kibo’s 2018 Consumer Trends Report survey saying they’ve relied on store associates to locate items elsewhere in the past six months – an 18% jump compared with the previous year.

To take advantage of this opportunity, merchants should ensure that regular and seasonal store workers are well-versed in procedures for locating and ordering items from other outlets, and store-to-store inventory tracking should be tested for accuracy.

 

Prepare for the wave of post-holiday returns.

In addition to optimizing the potential for customer acquisition and sales using omnichannel fulfillment, merchants should also spend time before the holidays vetting their reverse logistics. That’s because anywhere from 20% to 30% of items ordered online are returned, according to Multichannel Merchant – and the percentage can surge still higher during the holidays. Indeed, in 2017 Deloitte found that some 44% of shoppers predicted they’d take advantage of policies that enable easy returns.

Fully 58% of shoppers prefer to return items to local store outlets, according to UPS’ Pulse of the Online Shopper report – and given that up to 70% of in-store returns can result in new sales, merchants should promote the option, if it’s available, to encourage disappointed gift recipients to visit and examine alternative purchases. Even if immediate new sales don’t result, flexible and hassle-free returns can engender plenty of holiday goodwill, earning brand trust and a possible future repeat visit.

How are you preparing order management operations for the holiday rush?