With the staying power of ever-present online retailers, customers are demanding quicker fulfillment options from traditional retail brands to compete with the much-publicized two-day, one-day, and now even same-day delivery options. As the likes of Amazon, Target, Walmart, and other retail giants implement newer and quicker delivery capabilities—seemingly on a daily basis—other retailers are scrambling to find ways to capitalize on the consumer desire for instant fulfillment gratification.

In Parker Avery’s most recent point of view, Senior Manager John Lawing discusses benefits of adopting buy-online-pick-up-in-store (or BOPIS) from two perspectives: the consumer and the retailer. Plus he outlines key business process, organizational, and systemic implementation considerations.  Here’s a quick excerpt:

It would be remiss to discuss the benefits of a BOPIS implementation without at least mentioning some of the concerns and roadblocks. The first concern that always comes to mind is customer satisfaction. There is a bit of unrest in having faith that the items selected by the store associate fulfilling the order will meet a customer’s expectations. This concern is most typically associated with the grocery sector, where selection of perishable items is the responsibility of the order picker—as opposed to a typical manufactured item. This concern can be rebuked if the retailer is focused on customer satisfaction through the BOPIS process, and the company ensures store associates are trained and incentivized to follow the same mindset.

One approach would be to compel the associates to pick the items that they would feel comfortable buying themselves, as well as ensuring customer expectations are met or exceeded through follow-up satisfaction surveys—then adjusting the process or re-training associates, as needed. Having a ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ policy that is well-advertised and appropriately compensated (in the case of errors) is another way to ensure customer acceptance and use.

Although store associates are often on tight time frames to pick orders, they also need to remember the priority of overall customer service. If a customer in the store needs assistance unrelated to the associate’s BOPIS order, then the associate needs to be trained to pause their current pick task and help the in-store customer. For larger stores with many associates, it may be possible to separate responsibilities, but there will always be scenarios that must be addressed in training where in-store customers approach the pickers.

Because the roles and responsibilities of the entire store staff are typically disrupted a fair amount with the introduction of BOPIS, retailers also need to think through and adjust key performance indicators (KPIs) of both the overall store as well as individual roles within the store. The question of ‘who gets credit’ for BOPIS orders is a common issue—especially when returns are factored in. Since BOPIS orders do require store associate involvement, most retailers implementing the BOPIS process attribute the revenue to the store fulfilling the order.

When the customer comes into the store to pick up their order, they are typically expecting efficiency (hence a primary reason for using BOPIS); therefore, the store associate needs to know exactly where the picked order is located. This demands not only dedicated space for storing the picked items, but also a simple methodology for locating customer orders, as well as adequate staging or packaging for easy transfer to the customer. Granted, in smaller stores, dedicating a section of the back room can be challenging, and it may be necessary to allocate precious sales floor space for this capability, which then raises questions around the ROI of BOPIS vs. selling space.

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