Promoting pickup, return convenience could deter ‘retail apocalypse’

Young man shopping with credit card and laptop computer
Shoppers now prefer buying online and express store pickup. (Poike/Getty)

U.S. shoppers now prefer a shopping experience that includes “the best of both worlds”—buying online and express store pickup—based on survey results just released by the JDA Software Group. 

Nearly half (46%) of the more than 1,000 consumers reached for the poll said they’d rather skip the store and shop through digital channels. Buy online pickup in store, or BOPIS, services may be the answer to saving brick-and-mortar retail, HFN reported on July 20, based on data from the 2017 JDA Consumer Survey.

Scottsdale, Arizona-based JDA, the privately held company behind the survey, serves the retail market with fulfillment and client-experience solutions. Half of the consumers it surveyed used BOPIS services during the past 12 months—a 44 percent increase since the 2015 JDA Voice of the Consumer survey was conducted.

By offering incentives, however, that uptick could rise significantly; 80 percent of shoppers would consider using the service if retailers offered price discounts or incentives. This would in turn add value to the consumer shopping experience, while pushing retailers to differentiate themselves among competitors through special offers.

“Our 2017 Consumer Survey highlights the changing role of retail stores,” stated Jim Prewitt, vice president of Retail Industry Strategy at JDA. “While there has been speculation of a ‘retail apocalypse,’ that doesn’t seem to hold true for consumers. No longer the only channel for shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are still a key cornerstone for a quick and easy shopping experience and the facilitator for popular fulfillment options, like BOPIS and buy online return in store (BORIS).”

In addition to leveraging existing store inventory and streamlining shipping logistics, BOPIS provides another sales conversion opportunity for retailers. Of the respondents that use buy online pickup in store services, 40 percent “sometimes” made additional purchases in-store.

Of course, BOPIS adoption remains tied to consumers’ desire for convenience. Of the respondents who have used BOPIS services, avoiding home delivery (40%) and wanting the product sooner (33%) remain the top reasons for selecting the fulfillment option. These findings aligned with similar findings in 2016 and 2015. And with more retailers successfully implementing the service, 58 percent of respondents did not experience a problem with the service over the last year.

According to a July 5 report by The New York Times, Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy and Sears are among the retailers outfitting their brick-and-mortar locations with web-friendly services, such as drive through customer service, easy pick up locations and payment booths. 

When consumers do experience issues with BOPIS services, they continue to be associated with mismanaged staffing, found the JDA survey. Twenty-three percent found that store staff “took a long time” or “were unable to find the shopper’s order” in their store system and 16% found that there was no dedicated staff in-store for BOPIS purchases.

This, JDA pointed out, “showcases the need to refine workforce management for new fulfillment channels to compete in today’s retail environment.”

Returning online goods in stores is another way consumers are looking to save on shipping costs. Nearly one in three shoppers has leveraged buy online return in store, or BORIS, services this year—up from only 20% in the last survey.

A little more than one-quarter of respondents (26%) have used social media to purchase an item online. Of those who had, respondents ages 18-29 years old were more likely to do so (35%) than other age groups. Two popular visual platforms—Facebook (81%) and Instagram (26%)—were the most widely used social media channels for online purchases.

Finally, yearly sales, both in-store and online, are preferred by most shoppers. More than half of respondents (57%) would rather complete their holiday shopping throughout the year and outside of the holiday season rush.