There are several benefits of a “click and collect” retail model for both the customer and the retailer, however, it is vital to get inventory management right if BOPIS is going to work for you and not against you. Delve in with us as we look at what you need to have in place for BOPIS to be a resounding success.
The first step to BOPIS retail is automation. You very well may already be operating with an automated inventory management system however it is surprising how many businesses still use manual methods.
Automation is the key to an effective inventory management system as it saves time, money and unnecessary mistakes by keeping track of inventory over a multitude of channels. It is capable of incorporating this data into a common location so that retailers can see at a glance and in real-time which of their stores have stock.
In the BOPIS scenario, inventory automation allows retailers to gain accurate information about online purchases and intentions to pick-up, as well which stores have the item(s) in stock. For example, they can see when a customer has purchased something online and wishes to pick it up from a particular store in 3 hours. Then, if that store is out of stock, they can organise for stock to be redistributed to the preferred store by the time the customer wishes to pick it up. If companies are still operating a manual inventory management system, this level of efficiency would not be attainable.
Worker smarter with barcodes and cloud computing
Automation is fantastic and it can be further enhanced with the use of barcodes and the cloud. These two useful tools facilitate speed, accuracy and accessibility, all of which make an efficient omnichannel strategy possible.
Where efficiency and flexibility for the customer is a concern, time is of the essence and being able to quickly scan items into stock so that common inventory counts can be updated is extremely important. For an omnichannel inventory system to work, it must be accessible from all locations where it can be updated easily as stock is moved so that multiple branches can see accurate and real-time data. This is only possible if the inventory management system is cloud-based.
Be prepared for the highs and lows
As with any business endeavour, highs and lows are a natural occurrence and are something you need to be prepared for. While historically most businesses have worked hard to achieve lean inventory management to improve on wastage and cost savings, BOPIS sometimes requires enough stock on hand to ensure you have enough for the walk-in customers as well as online orders. With time and tools such as demand forecasting, it may be possible to predict these things more accurately, but when BOPIS is in its infancy, it will be important to have a safety net of stock onsite. Be prepared to be flexible, adapt and learn from any setbacks as you implement your BOPIS model.