More than half (54%) of shoppers say they prefer to shop in store over digital channels including online, mobile and social media, while nearly half (46%) prefer to skip the store in favor of such channels, according to JDA’s third annual Consumer Pulse Survey emailed to Retail Dive.
JDA frames buy online/pickup in store services, known as BOPIS, as a sweet spot and a “cure for the store,” considering “a quick and easy shopping experience” was favored by 75% of survey respondents over a “personalized experience.”
The prevalence of BOPIS services has risen by 44% since 2015, according to JDA’s survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers.
In-store pickup is helpful to brick-and-mortar retailers in a number of ways. Getting customers into the store is a time-honored challenge to any retailer and an opportunity to sell even more than what they’ve come looking for is a major plus.
In the omnichannel age, having customers pick up their online orders themselves also solves the pesky and expensive challenge of last-mile delivery. Of the respondents that use buy online pickup in store services, 40% “sometimes” made additional purchases in-store, JDA found. Returns are also driving traffic. Some 44% (over 10% more than last year) are making returns of online orders in store, with more than 30% doing so to avoid the hassle of return deliveries, and 17% saying they thought they’d receive their refund or exchange more quickly.
“Our 2017 Consumer Survey highlights the changing role of retail stores,” Jim Prewitt, vice president of retail industry strategy at JDA, said in a statement. “While there has been speculation of a ‘retail apocalypse,’ that doesn’t seem to hold true for consumers. No longer the only channel for shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are still a key cornerstone for a quick and easy shopping experience and the facilitator for popular fulfillment options, like BOPIS and buy online return in store (BORIS).”
The success of BOPIS springs from another retail fundamental — convenience. As in 2016 and 2015, JDA found shoppers choosing BOPIS services do so to avoid home delivery (40%) and get the product sooner (33%). Retailers are getting better at it: 58% more respondents this year found the strive to be problem-free compared to last year. But the service is also fraught with peril that can hurt a retailer’s brand. Snags in BOPIS services are associated with mismanaged staffing, JDA found. Nearly a quarter (23%) said store staff took a long time or were unable to find the shopper’s order, and 16% said there were no dedicated staff for BOPIS purchases, a situation largely unchanged from last year, JDA said. Target and Walmart are among retailers dedicating staff and areas for in-store pickup.
JDA found 80% of customers surveyed want incentives to make that pickup trip, which introduces other complications. Many retailers (including Walmart, which in April began offering a “Pickup Discount” on about 10,000 items, with plans to expand that to a million this summer), are offering or testing similar encouragements, Prewitt noted. “By offering incentives to shoppers to use BOPIS, like discounting, retailers are driving more foot traffic into stores, and potentially, buying more than they intended to, once they arrive at the store, boosting store sales,” he said.
Moody’s Investors Service also believes in that potential. Moody’s lead retail analyst Charlie O’Shea praised Walmart’s BOPIS-related discount in an email to Retail Dive, saying that it’s “another example of a retailer leveraging its physical stores to provide consumers with more options to receive online orders quickly.”
Despite the advantages, though, it’s a fraught area because it means that brick-and-mortar customers are paying more, something that has bedeviled Walmart in particular in the past. For years, for example, shoppers expressed frustration that Walmart’s price-matching policy applied only against local competitors within the vicinity of its physical stores, and that shoppers had to buy products online in order to obtain even Walmart’s own web prices. In 2014, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. Greg Foran finally reversed that policy, allowing online price matching in all stores — a policy that eventually was extended to the retailer's own online prices.