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How to make hybrid retail a reality

Illustration of a person walking out of a store with shopping bags. Next to them in a FenixCommerce logo.

This is an excerpt from our latest ebook “The brick and mortar arms race: Omnichannel expectations that are shaping the storefront” by Ryder Ecommerce by Whiplash partner Fenix Commerce, customizable e-commerce shipping solutions for online sellers across the entire customer journey.

The pandemic has retired every old rule in the e-commerce playbook and inevitably disrupted conventional in-store retail. With consumers stuck at home for long stretches of time, online shopping fast became the new norm. This eventually led consumers to acclimatize to rich digital retail experiences. 

Accustomed to safe, touchless digital shopping, today’s consumers have evolved dramatically in their attitudes, behaviors and habits. Research from McKinsey shows that these new behaviors are here to stay permanently, especially now that consumers are ready to start visiting brick-and-mortar stores again. 

But this time around, their expectations have changed concerning what they consider to be the ‘ideal’ in-store experience.

How do brick and mortar stores rise to the challenge?

Retailers have no choice but to refine their methods and rethink the in-store experience. Brick and mortar stores must now start providing a superior in-person shopping experience that mirrors the convenience, personalization, localization, and speed offered by online shopping. This is what customers will be looking out for as they return to stores.

The answer lies in capitalizing on the one key thing that post-COVID-19 shoppers crave the most: instant gratification.

Stay-at-home rules and prolonged isolation during the pandemic not only led to increased volumes of online shopping.  As e-commerce heavyweights like Amazon and Walmart began to promise shorter delivery timelines of no more than a couple of hours, consumers experienced a significant increase in their need for speed. 

Today’s shoppers are now spurred not only by speed but a need for increased flexibility and choice in deciding how their orders are fulfilled. In a nutshell, the modern consumer wants to be able to shop anywhere, any time. 

To ensure that customers’ demand for swift and free delivery is met, retailers need to adapt their strategies by creating brick-and-mortar experiences that combine the convenience of shopping online with the speediness of in-store collection. 

This reality has now engineered a new omnichannel strategy known as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store). 

BOPIS is a unique delivery feature that allows retailers to fulfill online orders swiftly at local stores. BOPIS gives retailers the ability to optimize the omnichannel experience by giving shoppers the option of purchasing products online but picking the order up themselves at the closest physical store. 

Why do customers love BOPIS?

Consumers might be buying online due to greater convenience, but they still love the brick-and-mortar experience. More shoppers are embracing brick and clicks, fusing e-commerce selling with traditional physical retailing. 

BOPIS is the connector that makes that process click for both customers and retailers. And customers love the flexibility that it offers. According to Statista, 41% who purchased an item online did it for in-store pickup. Statista research also found that 63% of respondents were willing to buy online and pick up in-store. 

As customers come in contact with your brand both offline and online, they’ll keep preferring the BOPIS-style fulfillment for the following reasons:

Convenience & flexibility

A National Retail Federation survey showed that 83% of consumers consider convenience a big factor that influences their buying decisions. With BOPIS, customers don’t have to do store-based shopping. They can enjoy the convenience of shopping from their location and then have the order routed to the nearest brick-and-mortar store for pickup.

Speed

BOPIS orders get fulfilled a lot faster than standard deliveries. Customers who want their order urgently just have to make their way to the pick-up location after being notified that the product has been picked and packed. If the product isn’t what they needed or expected, they can easily return it; no return shipping required.

Free delivery

48% of customers abandon their carts due to high shipping charges. BOPIS eliminates shipping fees, which saves money for both customers and brands.

Elevate your omnichannel strategy with BOPIS

Harmonizing both online and offline retail channels by synchronizing your inventory is crucial to keeping consumers happy with BOPIS. This omnichannel fulfillment strategy is a win-win for retailers as it provides a superior customer experience while benefitting retailers in multiple ways. 

With more customers buying online and picking up in-store, retailers gain increased online orders, more foot traffic which boosts storefront visibility, and higher AOV, with 67% of BOPIS customers buying an extra item when picking up the initial order.

The onus is now on retailers to leverage intelligent tools that increase their inventory coordination so they can create delightful customer experiences by managing orders efficiently and ensuring the right products are where they need to be at the right time.

Enjoyed this extract? Check out the rest of our eBook on how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped consumer expectations for fluid retail journeys:

The brick and mortar arms race: omnichannel expectations that are shaping the storefront.
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