BOPIS is Part of the Post-Pandemic Landscape’s ‘New Normal’
Buy Online Pickup In-Store is an innovation that’s here to stay.
It’s impossible to deny that the pandemic has forever changed the way retailers do businesses. It seems bizarre to contemplate from the lofty vantage of three years post-COVID-onset, but before the pandemic, digital shopping solutions were barely a twinkle in the retail industry’s eye. In 2019, only 4% of the largest U.S. retailers offered online ordering with curbside pickup, and fewer than a third of U.S. retailers overall had implemented any kind of digital transformation strategy.
Months of global lockdowns forced retailers to adapt or die, resulting in a vast acceleration in implementation of eCommerce and other digital retail solutions. For many, being able to serve shoppers online was the only way to stay in business. In particular, curbside pickup saw an explosion in demand, as demonstrated by this graph from Google Search Trends.
As a result, BOPIS sales in the United States more than doubled from 2019 to 2020.
The pandemic didn’t just drive retailers to offer new solutions, it also drove previously tech-phobic consumers to try online shopping. One study by Shopify showed that 30% of shoppers who have used BOPIS used it for the first time during the pandemic.
Data suggests that use of BOPIS has declined somewhat with the return to in-person shopping. However, it also shows that BOPIS continues to comprise a major share of online purchases. In one major 2022 study, nearly one third (31.5%) of U.S. consumers said that they had used either in-store or curbside pickup for their most recent online purchase. And in another survey, 64% of BOPIS shoppers said they were using BOPIS more often than they did before the pandemic.
So why has BOPIS stood the test of time?
BOPIS is a convenient option, especially for shoppers on a time crunch.
As the costs of shipping continue to skyrocket, BOPIS offers an more affordable and immediate alternative for price-conscious consumers. More than a third (35%) of shoppers in one survey said the thing they liked most about BOPIS was not having to pay shipping fees, while an equal amount said they liked not having to wait for the item to ship. (Other reasons include avoiding the risk of package theft — 11% — and the ability to check and return items right away if something is wrong — 10%.)
For last-minute holiday shoppers, BOPIS is also the only option that lets them guarantee availability of must-have holiday gifts purchased after the close of holiday shipping windows. In the week before Christmas, BOPIS orders peaked at 35% of online orders December 23, compared to 18-21% of online orders between November 1 and December 14.
BOPIS is good for retailers and consumers alike.
BOPIS also delivers profits to retailers both through increased sales and reduced costs. Eighty-five percent of consumers who have used BOPIS say they have made additional unplanned in-store purchases when picking up orders. BOPIS also solves the retailer’s problem of last-mile costs of delivery—which can comprise 53% of total delivery costs—by bypassing delivery altogether.
For consumers deciding where to make a purchase, BOPIS can be the deciding factor. In the week before Christmas 2022, U.S. companies that offered BOPIS grew their revenue nearly seven times faster compared to businesses that didn’t offer BOPIS.
Consumers are voting with their feet, and businesses that don’t implement BOPIS are leaving money on the table.