The Challenges of Buy Online, Pickup In Store

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Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) services are fast becoming standard fare for internet-based retailers, who are competing for market share and striving for relevance in the new and ever-evolving eCommerce age.

However, while BOPIS offers today’s consumers a convenient alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar shopping, and provides tech-natives with the sort of digitally-enhanced service they’ve become used to, there remain real challenges to retailers wanting to implement this style of selling their goods – namely stock control and the prevention of fraud.


Many of today’s consumers are accustomed to the digital age, where nearly everything; products, goods and services are all conveniently accessible at the easy click of a finger.

Thus, BOPIS, like other over-the-internet services, is growing in importance as a way for companies to appeal to digitally empowered, buy-anywhere-anytime consumers, who want to ‘buy’ more than ever, but on their own terms. Did I mention, how picking up in-store saves on shipping costs, too – and consumers always like finding ways to save money.

However, BOPIS is not, at least yet, universal. Studies show that in 2017 just 47%, fewer than half of all retailers in the United States and the United Kingdom offered a buy online pick-up in-store service.

Stock control challenges

While it offers the opportunity to gain a competitive edge in the digital age, BOPIS isn’t easy. To get the BOPIS model right, retailers need pinpoint inventory accuracy, that is, excellent stock control. They must know, on an item by item basis, exactly where products are stored, and where they need to be to meet the needs of the customer who’s scheduled to come into the store and collect.

Preventing fraud

Shopkeepers, staff, anyone tasked with handling online orders for in-store pickup need to be alert to the risk of being defrauded under their BOPIS offering. This method of retailing differs from both pure online purchasing and pure in-store ordering.

First, BOPIS orders come with no delivery address, which is a key bit of information for verifying the legitimacy of the buyer. Also unlike in-store purchases, in which a credit card is physically present, BOPIS orders are conducted online with no card present, meaning the financial liability for fraud shifts from the card issuer to the retailer.

BOPIS is here to stay

Given the competitive imperative and consumers’ demand for flexibility and ease, it appears that BOPIS is here to stay. And, if the stunning success story of eCommerce can be any guide, it seems retailers will keep getting better, overcoming challenges, and implementing this and further strategies for improving their customers’ shopping experience.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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