I wrote about the idea of Buy Online, Pickup in Store pre-pandemic, when this concept didn’t have much practical appeal for the majority of independent retailers. Brick and mortar stores just weren’t set up to have customers make a purchase on their website and then come in the store to pick it up.  But many of us spent a lot of time over the past year building up the shoppable inventory on our websites in order to offer curbside pickup.

An expanded website was essential so that shoppers to make purchases online. Not only did that prevent exposure to the virus during the height of the pandemic, but it gave those working at home an easy way to take fun shopping a break – and to still buy local. Offering BOPIS as a new option will make continued good use of your investment in your website. We’ve recently asked our webmaster to simply add a new option under pickup: in-store or curbside.

It remains to be seen whether the Delta variant of COVID will lead to a resurgence of the demand for curbside pickup. That service frankly saved our holiday season last year, because our in-person shopping was limited to 5 customers at a time for a total of 20 hours a week. Hopefully this season most shoppers who are not immune-compromised will be willing to shop in person as long as masks are worn, but others may want to continue using curbside pickup.

So why will some shoppers choose BOPIS instead?  Curbside pickup requires making arrangements to get the goods at a certain time, and in some cases the customer has to call first.  But BOPIS purchases are available anytime the store is open.  A customer can come in and get their merchandise whenever it is convenient, and if they are concerned about COVID exposure this errand can be done quickly. Most shoppers, we hope, will be comfortable taking some time look around when they stop in for their pre-purchased BOPIS packages – resulting in those impulse purchases we missed so much last holiday season.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder