Manufacturers are increasingly taking advantage of their online presence to establish direct connections with shoppers. Crucial to continued success is offering popular store pick-up options – or BOPIS, in the current lingo – which can not only meet rising expectations for omnichannel fulfillment, but strengthen retail partner relationships in the process.
Given that online browsing and research influence fully half of all retail sales, brand manufacturers are seizing the opportunity to establish direct relationships with consumers through website offerings. Investment in deep product information has paid off, with consumers saying such content is the leading reason they seek out manufacturers’ Web sites, according to the Kibo 2018 Consumer Trends Report.
But many manufacturers hesitate to go all-in on transactional eCommerce software and order management systems – both because the prospect of wading into the world of direct-to-consumer retail sales is daunting, and because of potential channel conflicts with retail partners.
Many brand manufacturers invite shoppers to link away to retail partners’ eCommerce-enabled sites in order to purchase online. But such disjointed experiences are increasingly inadequate in a world where eCommerce juggernaut Amazon trains shoppers to expect frictionless, one-click transactions.
Indeed, Kibo’s Consumer Trends Report survey found that shoppers already look to manufacturers to provide fulfillment options as comprehensive as their product content. Fully 45% of surveyed shoppers said they expected manufacturers to offer a wider assortment of products, and 40% expected more products to be in-stock, than could be found at local retailers. Nearly a third of respondents said they expected manufacturers to offer the broadest array of order fulfillment options when compared with retailers.
To meet those expectations, manufacturers should invest not only in eCommerce transaction capabilities, but also robust omnichannel fulfillment software – and then prioritize Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) as the first feature they enable.
BOPIS is widely popular, with 66% of Kibo survey respondents saying they use it. Because it’s fast – some stores offer pickup within hours – BOPIS satisfies shoppers’ increasing expectations for swift and free fulfillment; 63% of online shoppers now say they expect to receive items ordered online within three days, according to the Kibo study.
With the right order fulfillment software, manufacturers can use BOPIS to cement the store-brand connection, by:
Leveraging existing retailer relationships.
When Mizuno USA’s 5,000 retail partners saw the athletic gear manufacturer broadening its eCommerce capabilities, they feared channel conflict – a concern Mizuno put to rest by integrating retail outlets and their inventory into online fulfillment options.
“Initially, our small mom and pop retailers were concerned that we were going direct-to-consumer; then we got them to understand that we want to include you in that process. We want to use you guys for fulfillment on our behalf,” explained Keith Neeley, vice president of Operations and eCommerce for Mizuno USA.
Thanks to the real-time inventory capabilities of Kibo’s order management system, online shoppers can instantly find the Mizuno retail partner with the product they want nearest them.
Such integrations are a win-win for manufacturers and retail partners alike. Manufacturers burnish their reputations with consumers for offering a seamless eCommerce experience, while retail partners stand to gain when shoppers visit outlets to pick up orders and make additional purchases.
Some 44% of shoppers who pick up orders in-store buy more items on the spot, according to data from the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report for 2018. During the recent holiday season, leading retailers such as Kohl’s, Target, and Lowe’s reported that anywhere from 20% to 40% of BOPIS customers went on to buy more in-store, and added an average of 25% to the order total.
Driving traffic to manufacturers’ own retail outlets.
In an effort to forge tighter bonds with consumers, more and more manufacturers are opening the doors on branded stores, which can serve as powerful platforms for events, strategic content, and promotions. The number of manufacturers planning to open brick-and-mortar channels in the next three years has jumped by 18 percent, according to a study by international retail consultant Ebeltoft Group.
Manufacturers can add their own outlets into the BOPIS mix, encouraging online shoppers to visit and immerse themselves in branded store environments. With the backing of robust order management capabilities, manufacturers with stores can transform outlets into fulfillment hubs, with store pickup enhanced by associates’ ability to source and order items at other locations.
Apple, legendary for its sleek and streamlined product designs, also offers streamlined order fulfillment with fully-integrated and fast Apple Store pickup. Notifications and tracking are available via a mobile app. Customers who opt to use the service can avail themselves of knowledgeable store staff to help set up devices, increasing the likelihood they’ll be satisfied with their purchase – and purchase further accessories on site.