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How to Be Successful with Buy Online, Pickup in Store

Home improvement retailers who talk about their competition these days inevitably include Amazon on the list. Fortunately, there are many ways to compete against this formidable retailer. One of the tactics many retailers are now pursuing is by offering a buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) service. Grocery stores, for example, have used this service to make shopping more convenient. More  independent home improvement retailers have incorporated it into their offerings, too.

Whether you are thinking of starting a BOPIS service or have been running one for some time, it’s important to continually measure its success. Here are five guidelines to evaluate how you can improve your BOPIS program from Penny Lasater, head of Package Concierge Retail, the innovator of the automated locker system used to drop off and pick up many online orders.

  1. Evaluate your communication. Have a thorough communication plan in place to educate consumers about your specific BOPIS process. Use your website, social media communication and in-store signage to promote this service. Conduct a survey with customers who have used it to identify any pain points they experienced, then use that information to improve your process moving forward.
  2. Evaluate your team. Arm your team with what they need to be successful. Develop a group of employees who will continually review every aspect of the BOPIS procedure, including payment processing and fulfillment, to ensure all systems are integrated. Make sure every employee knows the in-store pickup process so BOPIS customers can get in and out quickly.
  3. Evaluate your inventory. The success of BOPIS lives and dies with inventory visibility. If you don’t have a well-maintained record of your inventory, then you can’t know for sure what items you have in stock, and neither can your customers. A transparent inventory alleviates employee and customer frustration. You won’t be offering products that are out of stock or no longer available. If shoppers discover they have to wait for an item, they are likely to choose another retailer who has it available for immediate pickup.
  4. Evaluate your process. Become a secret shopper and browse another retailer offering the BOPIS experience. Evaluate your experience from the viewpoint of a shopper. Is there anything you would do to improve it? Is that retailer doing something you should be doing?
  5. Evaluate your success metrics. Find a reporting mechanism to provide insights into the ROI of your BOPIS service. Consider adding customer satisfaction surveys to assess how you are doing and include open-ended questions for consumer feedback. Use those results to tweak your program.

If you’re looking for more ways to strengthen your operation against Amazon, check out these other resources from Hardware Retailing: Taking a Closer Look at Amazon’s Retail Strategy, and 10 Ways to Beat Amazon at Retail.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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