Not long ago, ecommerce was threatening brick-and-mortar retailers at every turn. Until recently, when omnichannel strategy become widespread, many retailers were struggling to stay in business. During this past holiday shopping season, however, traditional retailers saw how the omnichannel strategy called “click and collect” — the customer practice of buying online and picking up in store (or, “BOPIS”) — could help them be more customer-focused as well as more profitable.
A holiday success
Retailers saw the strongest holiday sales growth in 6 years, with revenue increasing 5.1% to more than $850 billion this year, according to Mastercard Spending Pulse, and online shopping saw extensive gains of 19.1 percent compared with 2017. Click-and-collect offerings played a large role in that increase: Adobe Analytics reported that click-and-collect orders grew 50% over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend compared with a year ago. The strategy has required retailers to integrate accurate, real-time in-store inventories with their online presence. Their efforts have paid off. Furthermore, Barron’s recently reported that overall BOPIS sales soared 50% year-over-year.
A successful click-and-collect program blends retailers’ online businesses with that of their physical locations in order to reap considerable benefits. For instance, Target reported that it expected order pickup volume would triple this holiday season compared with last year’s. Target is among Accenture’s top 5 “click-and-collect” retailers, a list that also includes Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Home Depot.
The strategy requires strict inventory control that provides shoppers visibility into product availability within stores. One miscalculation — one shopper visiting with the expectation an item is in-stock but it is not — and a shopper’s trust may be gone forever.
Flexibility for consumer and retailer
A recent report from Kibo (download required) found that 67% of shoppers took advantage of BOPIS in the past six months. Furthermore, those shoppers tend to spend more when they pick up: 75% of those who have used BOPIS purchased something else while in-store, according to a study by ChargeItSpot. For the customer, click and collect offers flexibility. Orders can be placed at 1 a.m., for instance, and picked up at no charge usually later that morning or within 24 hours. While the selection may be less robust than when buying from the general website, shoppers seem fine with the compromise.
Retailers see store pickup as a way to decrease delivery costs and increase customer interaction with associates. For some stores, click and collect promotes in-store sales growth, because shoppers frequently add to orders while they’re picking up. That’s caused a shift in how retailers view their brick and mortar presence.
“Our stores are our biggest single, competitive advantage. Our digital business outperforms everyone because our stores make it happen,” said Target CEO Brian Cornell at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in early January. He also noted that the locations function as service and fulfillment hubs as well as showrooms for inspiration.
The popularity of BOPIS differentiates brick and mortars from their online competition as well as those in their neighborhoods, and it is an ideal way for retailers to merge online and in-store experiences to engage profitably with today’s consumers.