Next Time You Shop, Ask If Stores Offer A "BOPIS" Deal

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Retailers are seemingly always coming up with new ways to entice shoppers to drop as much dough as possible. Apparently, "BOPIS" has become an increasingly popular offering, specifically among department stores, according to StellaService, a research firm with a focus on retail customer service practices. Never seen that acronym before? (Don’t worry, nor had we.) BOPIS stands for “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store,” meaning you do all the perusing while vegging at home in the luxurious comfort of your pajamas, if that’s your e-commerce M.O.

But instead of contending with shipping charges or impatiently awaiting the delivery of your goods — and, occasionally, dealing with UPS mishaps or delivery snafus — you can fetch your purchases that same day at your local outpost of whichever store you’ve ordered from. It’s like placing a hold, in effect.

So, which stores actually deliver on the convenience and time-saving practice — without literally delivering your goods — best? Nordstrom, that perennial customer-service overachiever of the fashion retail landscape. StellaService recently completed the first-ever BOPIS breakdown, according to the company, between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. It placed more than 500 orders for same-day pick-up, from the 16 out of 40 top stores — not solely fashion purveyors — in the “Stella Index” of retailers that currently offer BOPIS.
Seven department stores in the company’s Index that currently have BOPIS capabilities: Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, Sears, and Kohl’s. But only Nordstrom ranked among the five top performers for order success (how quickly a retailer has the merch you’ve selected online ready to be snagged IRL). However, none of the fashion retailers in the study ranked for fulfillment speed (how fast the store notifies you that your order is ready for pickup) — office supply stores apparently kill it in terms of speediness, with Staples and Office Depot nabbing the top spots, with just 23 minutes from placing an order to receiving a pickup notification at the former and one hour at the latter.

“The practice offers benefits to the retailer and consumer, alike,” Kevon Hills, StellaService’s vice president of research, tells Refinery29. “Providing this service allows retailers and shoppers more flexibility and is often by shoppers to 'expedite' receipt of their packages.” As for what’s in it for retailers, they get in-store foot traffic from a customer who might’ve otherwise only bought their intended purchase online, and thus stores with BOPIS “can more easily capitalize on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities,” Hills says.

Interestingly, out of the slew of fashion retailers included in StellaService’s Index, only department stores are boasting about their BOPIS offerings. Some included in the study have limited services, like Gap, where you can reserve online to buy in-store, or Ralph Lauren, which offers the service only at certain store locations and for specific product lines. So, why haven’t other retailers analyzed by the research firm, like J. Crew, Victoria’s Secret, and Lululemon, hopped on the BOPIS bandwagon yet? The exclusivity factor, most likely — if you have to go to Lululemon for your pricey legging fix, since they’re literally not carried anywhere else, you will, and you won’t need an added convenience factor to get you to buy something.

“It's possible that these brand retailers have not been as quick to move on the BOPIS offering because, in many cases, their shoppers do not currently have the option of purchasing the products elsewhere,” Hills says. “So consumers looking for those items are less likely to look to department stores if the offering isn't available.” Also, because department stores are multi-brand, multi-channel retailers, they probably have the appropriate logistical infrastructure in place that BOPIS requires, Hills explains.

There’s still room for improvement for the shopping feature, as Hills says retailers often struggle with at least one step of the four-part BOPIS process (order placement, time estimate,order fulfillment, and pickup notification). Next up, expect stores to add search filters and heightened visibility, say, on a site’s homepage of BOPIS-eligible items, Hills predicts, as well as more specific — and faster — pick-up timeframes. So, have you jumped on the BOPIS bandwagon yet, or would you rather keep your e-comm and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences distinct?
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