I wrote about the idea of BOPIS (buy on line, pick up in store) a couple of years ago, back when we had no idea that something called the Coronavirus would change the world as we know it.  We’ve been using BOPIS for our wedding registry since then, hosted online by Bridge. We find that couples are happy to pick up their gifts in the store instead of having everything packaged and shipped – and the fact that this practice is environmentally sound is a real plus.

But now BOPIS has taken on new meaning as stores either close down entirely, or try to minimize the social interaction required to shop.  One of our esteemed Monroe Street neighbors, the Madison Chocolate Company, just announced that they will only be doing pickup orders for the time being because of the threat of COVID-19. “Thank you for supporting us in an entirely different way,” they wrote on Facebook. “We are all in this wild new normal together.”

What does the wild new normal look like for you? If you’ve got products listed on your website and have a secure online shopping cart, you may be able to set up the BOPIS option fairly easily.  If not, you could have customers phone or email you to tell you what they’d like to buy.  You can accept their credit card over the phone, or use Paypal or Venmo to request a payment for the total amount due. 

Another option for stores that don’t sell merchandise on their website is Facebook Marketplace.  You can find out how to list items for sale by going to Facebook’s site.  To read more about the pros and cons of this way of selling, check out this article by The Digital Renewal.

Some stores are asking customers to come in to pick up their purchase, while others are offering curbside pickup – the shopper texts or calls when they are outside the store, and someone runs out with their package.  (Larger stores can of course afford to have someone outside ready to assist with a curbside pickup, but it’s unlikely that a small independent can do this.)  

Both BOPIS and curbside pickup require staff time, but with fewer people out shopping it may be a way to keep your employees on the payroll.  We are determined not to let our staff’s income suffer due to the pandemic crisis, so we welcome a way to generate both income and work.  Like all small business owners, we will be happy to see this “new normal” become history. 

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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