How to Test the Efficacy of Your Omni-Channel: BlueFletch Uses Support Agent to Power Retail’s Buy Online, Pickup In-Store

The “Buy Online Pickup In Store” offering has become a popular addition to most retailer’s omni-channel strategy over the last few years. Flexible fulfillment programs that integrate all three sales channels – online, in-store and mobile apps – can reduce shipping costs for customers and increase overall sales by drawing more shoppers into the store. BOPIS improves customer satisfaction and allows traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to more effectively compete with major online stores.

In an age of Amazon Now/Echo, Alibaba, Mobile Payments and other disruptive retail technologies, customers are demanding and expecting more from brick-and-mortar retailers. Retailers must acknowledge these expectations or risk losing out to the competition. Today’s savvy and busy shoppers want to save two things: time and money. BOPIS as part of a bigger omni-channel strategy can deliver on both.

Strategic advantage of well implementing BOPIS include:

  • More unplanned purchases when shoppers visit the store (40% vs only 25%).
  • Faster delivery.
  • Connecting customer data from online to offline for insights down the road.
  • Larger basket sizes.
  • Higher conversion rates.
  • Sometimes it’s more convenient than waiting for the item to be delivered.
  • Save on shipping costs.
  • Shorter overall time to receipt of an order compared to ordering online.
  • Price matching now ensures the most competitive price.

Over the last 8 years, we have had the opportunity to implement the mobile applications for a large number of retail BOPIS solutions. One of the key differentiators we have found in successful implementation is to incorporate analytics to measure the experience. We have done this multiple ways, from building bespoke dashboards to customizing Splunk reports. Recently, more retailers have been leveraging our mobile analytics offering, Support Analytics, to provide this competitive advantage. Access to actionable information from Support Analytics allows our clients to gain insights so that applications and associate training can be improved based on actual data – not causal feedback. Gaining insights based on actionable data allow our clients to measure their return on mobile technology investments and identify where to invest for future improvements.

How Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) Works

From placement to delivery, there are certain actions that always take place during the buy online, pickup in-store process. When an item is ordered online and the pickup in-store option is selected, the customer’s local store receives that order for fulfillment. Every retailer implements the customer fulfillment, item staging and customer delivery steps slightly differently. Executing this strategy correctly can move a retailer closer to winning the hearts and pockets of a customer. Moreover, there are some brick-and-mortar retailers that are using BOPIS as an opportunity to measure, track and fine-tune each step in the process to further separate themselves from the competition.

Item Picking

When an order is placed online and a store receives the order for fulfillment, typically, a notification is sent to available store associates mobile devices. Some questions retailers should be asking in order to understand and improve the picking process include:

  • How many store associates received the notification?
  • How long did it take a store associate to acknowledge a pick request?
  • How long does it take to pick an order?

Knowing the answers to these questions is the first step to improving the picking process. Timing the picking process and mapping the picking route also help retailers improve the fulfillment process and save time.

  • Which associate is the ‘quicker picker’?
  • Do some items take too long to stage? Should these items be available for BOPIS?
  • Can I use data from pick order to determine in-store navigation?
  • How much of my time overall is being spent picking?
  • Do I have a mechanism for identifying if associates are too busy interacting with customers to pick order items?

Armed with this information from Support Analytics, our clients are able to dive deep into a process that is usually overlooked. Optimizing staff through training feedback and deploying associates in a way that is most efficient will set the tone for a fine tuned order fulfillment.

Item Staging & Ready for Pick-Up

Once all the items for an order have been picked and it is ready for customer pick-up – what happens next? Is your organization automatically providing feedback to the customer on order status? At this stage in the process it is important to:

  • Use the customer’s preferred type of communication (phone, email, text)
  • Track when customer communications are sent
  • Measure open rates
  • Communicate any special instructions up front (e.g. will the customer be required to pick-up certain items in a location other than the front of the store)

Allow customers to provide their expected time of arrival (i.e. reverse Comcast appointment time)

Brick-and-mortar retailers that have customer facing mobile applications can leverage mobile devices to provide an experience that is seamless to the customer. BlueFletch has helped retailers leverage beacons and geo-fencing to provide actionable data to customers and associates. Automatically triggering tasks and providing feedback to the customer reduces frustrating experiences, including:

– When orders are not ready when the customer arrives,

– When the items need to be retrieved or found from the back or,

– When the customer needs to take delivery in another part of the store.

Retailers that leverage the locations of the customers will know when they are on the way to the store and can have the store associates prepare the order for delivery. If the items are over-sized and need to be picked up from a special location, the customer can now be made aware before they arrive in the store.

Order Delivery

Hopefully by now the customer is in the store and at the right location to pick-up their order. The worst thing that can happen is having an awkward experience that takes longer to deliver than if the customer picked the items themselves and used your regular checkout process

When the customer arrives to take delivery of their order there are a number of opportunities to leverage Support Analytics to capture key data points, such as:

  • The total time of the delivery interaction
  • How is the customer being looked-up/searched (g. receipt scan, email, telephone number, order number)
  • Customer receipt preference
  • Application Exceptions (e.g. Are there exceptions in the process that associates do not report that could provide a better experience?)

Although actionable data is key to improving any process, there are a few more things that retailers should consider when implementing their buy online, pickup in-store offering.

  • Offer discount codes or coupons that expire the same day that the BOPIS item is collected.
  • Design the in-store pickup area to incorporate popular items customers can pick up and purchase easily
  • Train your employees to cross-sell and up-sell products or services.
  • Make it as easy as possible for your customers to receive their products by offering designated parking spots, clear signage, and convenient checkout locations that will encourage customers to keep using your service.

Process Efficacy

Many organizations are required to provide a benefit case when requesting budget for a technology project. Typically, what happens is that a business case is presented, a business owner will fight for the project and the project is either funded or not. When the project ends, if it was under budget then you live to fight another day and if it was over budget, hopefully it wasn’t a total disaster. What rarely happens is the retrospective to reconcile if the project actually delivered on it’s benefit. Support Analytics’s analytics have proved to be a solid common denominator by providing a clear picture during a project retrospective. For the BOPIS process a project examination could include:

  • Store Associates – High Performers vs. Lower Performers
    • Identify our best up-sellers and what sets them apart
    • Why are certain associates quicker at picking than others
    • Are customers sharing their experiences socially at a particular store
  • Items
    • Which items are quicker/easier to stage/pick
  • Identify process areas that can be automated
  • A/B test of customer interactions and if they provide a better experience

The ability to buy online, pickup in-store has been around for a while and customers have come to expect this option from brick-and-mortar retailers. What is your organization doing to stay competitive and ensure that customers are receiving the best BOPIS experience possible? We have observed that accurate data can help organizations make well-informed business decisions. Our retail clients are leveraging Support Analytics to gain insights on previously unknown data points. To find out if there are gaps in your enterprise mobility processes we would love share more about Support Analytics or discuss your other needs around mobile analytics.