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BOPIS is Helping Distributors Compete with Amazon and Big Box Retailers

In what looks to be an anti-Amazon strategy, a growing number of Big Box retailers are now offering a buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) feature for their customers. Independent hardlines distributor and Unilog customer, Orgill, has been tracking major chains in their retail industry that provide the new purchase option, and the success they’ve had in showing online shoppers the value of their brick and mortar stores.

Grant Morrow, eCommerce Programs Manager at Orgill, says Home Depot and Lowe’s have really pushed their BOPIS offerings, and they’ve seen gigantic wins as a result. According to Morrow, about 48% of Home Depot’s current online orders are BOPIS orders, while Lowe’s BOPIS orders are at 60%. While Lowe’s is seeing a higher percentage of pick-up orders, Home Depot is the standout leader when it comes to online sales in hardware and home improvement. They are on track to do $10 billion online in 2019, which is nearly three times the online sales of Lowe’s. “Buy online, pick up in store is a huge driver of store foot traffic right now,” he explains. “If you go into any Big Box retailer store, you’ll see they’re heavily focused on showcasing their BOPIS stations, with dedicated staff manning the counters. Seeing their journey and their success, we feel this is something our Orgill retailers can offer as well.”

In fact, some of Orgill’s dealers have already implemented BOPIS programs like the Big Box stores.  Morrow says, “With high expectations and other Big Box websites have set for shoppers, if retailers want to remain competitive, they have to follow suit.”

Why BOPIS is building momentum

Competitive pressures aside, Orgill understands the value BOPIS provides their shoppers. In the retail hardware industry, timelines, shipping constraints, and product validation play heavily into their purchases.

  • Project timelines – If shoppers are working on a project and find they need an additional part or tool to complete the work, they want to know they can get the product now. With BOPIS, they can search a retailer’s site for the specific item they need, see how many are on hand at the location closest to them, buy the item online, and then pick it up within hours.
  • Shipping restrictions – Large or heavy items such as lumber or generators are either unavailable or cost-prohibitive to order online and ship. To make them more accessible to customers, BOPIS allows these products to be purchased online and be ready for immediate pickup or shipped directly to the store of their choice, where they can be picked up free of charge
  • Ensuring the right product for the job – Sometimes a shopper wants to see the product in person to ensure it’s the right size, color, or part for their needs. In-store pickup gives them this option, and also provides them the opportunity to speak with an associate to ask additional questions.

While BOPIS offers more efficiency, cost savings, and reliability for retail shoppers, it also brings a number of benefits for both B2C and B2B businesses. It’s a great opportunity for them to bridge together their online and brick-and-mortar channels, and build in-person connections with their typically online-only customers. Data analytics software provider, Agilence, offers up these additional business benefits:

  • Potential up-sell revenue – When customers make a pickup, there’s an opportunity to drive additional in-store purchases while they’re there. Agilence says as many as 75% of BOPIS users make unplanned purchases within the store.
  • Increased customer loyalty – Providing convenient pickups and returns at a dedicated station creates an enjoyable customer experience, and one they will remember.
  • Cost savings – This purchase/pickup method reduces delivery and fulfillment costs, and results in less abandoned online carts. Data shows as many as 60% of online shopping carts are abandoned once a buyer sees the unexpected or high shipping costs.
  • Additional in-store traffic – The more foot traffic you bring into your stores, the more opportunities to promote your products, your people, and the value you provide. When people see a well-run store with happy customers, they’re more apt to be a repeat visitor.

Orgill BOPIS success

In order for a BOPIS model to work for retail and B2B organizations, businesses must have the proper inventory management tools and eCommerce site in place. That’s why Orgill recently partnered with Unilog to give dealers a powerful eCommerce presence with BOPIS functionality. Unilog’s CIMM2 platform is an all-in-one digital commerce solution that integrates with a retailer’s point-of-sale inventory to provide real-time updates for online buyers.

“BOPIS is, in essence, activating our inventory by telling people ‘we have five of these items available right now for you to pick up.’ Shoppers see that as the ultimate convenience because they don’t have to pay or wait for shipping – they can get what they want immediately,” explains Morrow.

He maintains if your website doesn’t do a good job of telling people what’s available for pickup, you’re not really effective. “Many independent retailers have websites that are not on the CIMM2 platform, so there’s no integration to their inventory. If you can’t express what is in store, your site just becomes a special order website at that point,” says Morrow. “That’s why we emphasize the Unilog solution to our dealers, because point-of-sale integration is so important.”

Orgill dealer, Town & Country Hardware, went live with their CIMM2-powered website in early 2018. The North Carolina hardware chain has already seen positive results, as have other dealer sites with BOPIS offerings like Aubuchon Hardware in New England and Seattle-based McLendon Hardware. Currently, 41% of hardware shoppers buy online and pick up in store while in retail, overall, 20% use the feature. Morrow feels their industry’s high percentage of BOPIS users is driven, in part, by Home Depot’s focused marketing strategy.

With high customer demand for BOPIS, Orgill encourages their dealer partners to provide this feature as part of their online offerings. Morrow emphasizes to dealers that making BOPIS available is not going to redefine them or transform them into an Internet retailer. “Fundamentally, it’s not going to change the kind of company they are, but it will change how they interact with their customers,” says Morrow. “At the end of the day, the value our dealers provide is still their superior in-person customer service at their local brick-and-mortar stores. This is a way for them to build up their suite of offerings in the 21st century, and get a shopper into the store so our dealer can deliver that experience.  Then they can compete more effectively against Big Box retailers.”

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