BOPIS and BORIS: the retailer's friends

While retailers are always obsessed with the competition, in particular Amazon, we feel that physical stores can be used as a key differentiating factor, in particular thanks to our friends BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store). In this article, we will look at how they can significantly improve retailers' daily lives.   

BOPIS and BORIS: an introduction 

One case illustrates the arrival of BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store) particularly well. It is Walmart, which sees assistance of online customers as strategic, in particular through its delivery service direct to the doorstep. Customers benefit from Walmart's Grocery Pickup service, which combines the convenience of online shopping and the ease of not having to leave the car, all without additional fees. 

If you were wondering, the advantage of BOPIS over click-and-collect is that it makes the order available at one of the brand's stores, while speeding up the returns process. In the case of clothing, for example, customers benefit from the use of fitting rooms and a sales advisor, who is on hand to handle returns and update stocks. This makes it possible to reduce shipping costs and put returned items back into stock almost in real time, making them available for other customers to buy.

To achieve this, retailers need to overcome organisational and operational challenges, particularly in terms of personnel, digitization and process optimization.  However, BORIS and BOPIS open up major opportunities in terms of both sales and store footfall. Any retailer that offers fast-selling products, i.e. common consumer goods, will see an increase in its global revenue. This remains true for retailers in general.   

How to meet these challenges?

Current processes are not optimized. The management of orders as part of a 'pick up in store' and 'return in store' system involves additional workload and requires available employees to welcome customers who have purchased online. Furthermore, these employees must also receive and manage product returns, including operations such as adding to/removing from stock and checking returned products. The workload related to meeting consumers' new expectations (speed, buying convenience and the ability to make an immediate return are at the top of the list) is, therefore, growing, and presents an organisational obstacle to the adoption of BOPIS and BORIS by retailers.

In the view of retailers, the best way to overcome these challenges is to make the processes more efficient by optimizing and digitizing them1. In particular, this means having improved real-time visibility of stocks, at all points of sale, and a central stock that enables consolidation of all incoming and outgoing flows. These points are essential in order to set up a BOPIS and BORIS system. 

If retailers want to optimize the management of returns, or even avoid them altogether, they can adopt ROPIS: Reservation Online, Pick up In Store. The main difference here is that instead of customers paying for products before picking them up in the store, they can first reserve them online and then try them in person before deciding whether or not to buy. The product is kept on hold until the customer comes to the store. Not only does this method eliminate order processes, it also avoids unnecessary returns.   

What will BOPIS' and BORIS' roles be in tomorrow's world? 

The Covid-19 crisis and its effects on consumption will most likely be felt for a while to come. It looks as though day-to-day consumer behaviour will change permanently and, in many cases, significantly. Nobody can predict how exactly, but it seems likely that consumers will be less inclined to spend as much time in stores, particularly those that do not offer added value or a "wow effect". 

This means that BOPIS and BORIS will soon be one of those services that retailers need to offer without delay. Customers will only need to go to stores to pick up orders made online or return a product.  It seems that BOPIS and BORIS, along with ROPIS, are extremely useful allies that no retailer can do without.