‘BOPUS’ Remains a Challenge for Many Retailers

Accurately tracking inventory is a major concern

October 9, 2017

More than half of retailers in North America offer buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS) service. But BOPUS is widely seen as a significant challenge, according to a new survey of retailers.

According to an August 2017 survey by JDA, a supply chain software company, roughly three-quarters of US store managers said they have faced difficulties in implementing BOPUS. The ability to accurately track inventory is a major concern, it found.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, only about one-third of the US retailers surveyed said that they offer discounts for consumers who buy online and pick up in-store.

Fully half of the retailers polled do not offer BOPUS discounts, and 14% are looking into the option.

The benefits of BOPUS for retailers are well-known. In-store pickup means that customers are, by definition, in the store and more likely to make additional purchases.

It’s not surprising then that the service is widespread. A survey of retailers in North America by Boston Retail Partners in April 2017 found that 62% of respondents offer BOPUS. But, paralleling the findings of the JDA study, more than half of those retailers said the service needs improvement.

For consumers, BOPUS offers the perception of savings from the start. A survey of digital buyers in North America by iVend Retail in late 2016 found that nearly two-thirds of respondents pick up purchases in store to save on shipping costs. “Convenience” and other reasons scored significantly lower.

Retail giant Walmart made the savings of BOPUS explicit in a program it unveiled earlier this year, Pickup Discount, which will give discounts to customers willing to pick up in stores some online-only items. The discounts customers get are based on how much Walmart saves on so-called last-mile delivery costs, which it said represent the lion’s share of shipping costs to customers’ homes.