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Curb Appeal: The 3 Musts of Buy Online Pickup at Curbside (BOPAC)

Tags: #BOPAC #BOPIS inventory management omnichannel order management point of sale POS

by Camille Chin  |  November 2, 2020

Even if your business was deemed “essential” during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers likely stayed away. Virtual grocery carts emerged almost like magic and many shoppers opted to BOPAC (buy online pickup at curbside) or to have their foodstuff delivered to their homes. Interacting with grocery staff became risky and unnecessary.

Interestingly, according to an Adobe survey conducted in August 2020, 31 percent of online shoppers prefer using BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) or BOPAC over home delivery. And why not? In addition to avoiding delivery fees, BOPAC gives shoppers immediacy, and a safe way to get out of their homes and visit some of their favourite shops — albeit from the outside!

Wholesalers and retailers who have already leveraged the power of curbside pickup have likely seen more success in 2020 as consumer preference for contactless shopping continues to grow. In August, Target reported that its Drive Up pickup grew 730% over the same quarter in 2019. Best Buy, Home Depot and Staples are some of the many stores with BOPAC services. Here are three important BOPAC requirements to ensure your business achieves major curb appeal.

Software that Works in Tandem

A distributed Order Management System (OMS) is the launching pad for BOPAC. An OMS routes online orders to stores for fulfillment and curbside pickup. It also consumes inventory, ideally in real time, so shoppers aren’t excitedly placing online orders for items that have long sold out.

A lack of connectivity and segregation between an OMS, in-store inventory management system and Point-of-Sale system will result in much improvisation, confusion and frustration among staff and customers. The software systems have to work in tandem.

But successful picking and packing in-store goes beyond technology. In-store fulfillment also requires staff, space and ongoing communication with customers that, if not done well, will leave them sitting in the store parking lot. If they become impatient, this will impact brand reputation. For BOPAC to be successful, stores have to be prepared and self-sufficient.

Real-Time Inventory Visibility

Whether you sell food or footwear, both your staff and shoppers also require real-time visibility of your in-store inventory in particular for BOPAC to be successful. No one wants to put hamburger buns, beef patties and an assortment of condiments in their online grocery cart only to find out curbside that the store is out of patties. Buns and ketchup for dinner, fantastic.

Because inventory in a brick-and-mortar store is more fluid than in a warehouse, physical stores have to integrate their in-store stock with a point-of-sale system. Enterprise inventory should be visible too, including how it’s distributed across other stores. Insight from vendors and logistic partners about what’s coming in and when will help with allocation — and satisfaction!

An AI-driven platform will elevate your game. Demand predictions take into account a range of factors like the weather. Retailers can use projections to prep for fluctuations in demand. An incoming storm may trigger a rush for BOPAC, for instance, and require more fulfillment staff.

Clear and Convenient Logistics

Unclear or nonexistent pickup instructions, long wait times and unobtainable associates are some of the complaints that customers are making about recent BOPAC services.

A convenient channel for customers to get regular status updates during the fulfillment process will help eliminate glitches and uncertainty. Since a phone number demands the constant availability of a store associate, email or SMS are better options. They also spare customers from having to download yet another platform to their phones.

A dedicated, easy-to-find pickup spot with clear signage is another must. A QR code or a short number on a sign are ideal for initiating the actual pickup. Remember: BOPAC was born out of the need for convenience and speed. It has to be as frictionless to build customer loyalty.

For information on Jesta’s Curbside Pickup solution, contact us.

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