If there’s one emerging trend that truly bridges the gap between bricks and mortar and online retail, it is Buy Online Pick Up In Store (BOPIS).
Also known as Click and Collect, BOPIS has emerged as one of the best ways that traditional retailers can embrace the digital world, offering customers a seamless experience that ticks the boxes of convenience, speed and service while luring consumers into a physical store.
Meanwhile for retailers, a key element to any successful BOPIS offering is accurate inventory and stock counting, which is where loss prevention and BOPIS inevitably intersect.
Here’s an insight into loss prevention and its role in BOPIS.
The rise and rise of BOPIS
As Total Retail recently explained, for years bricks and mortar retailers had been scrambling to find ways to combat the online threat, and one of the most successful strategies that has emerged is BOPIS.
It’s a feature that allows consumers to shop online from the comfort of their home, and then harness the convenience of picking up the product they buy at their nearest brand outlet.
For the retailer, BOPIS offers a number of benefits:
- It saves shipping time and cost
- It makes use of the retail real estate at its disposal
- It lures customers into a physical outlet, where there’s a good chance they will buy additional items
And it’s a trend that is incredibly popular with consumers due its ease, convenience and near instant gratification.
Earlier this year a Total Retail stated over 68 per cent of US shoppers had made more than one click and collect purchase, while a further 50 per cent said they’ve actually decided where to buy a product online based on whether they can pick it up in-store.
Meanwhile, Retail Dive notes 85 per cent of shoppers make additional in-store purchases while visiting stores to pick up what they already had bought online, with 15 per cent saying they engage in that practice “somewhat frequently”.
The retail challenge
In an increasingly competitive retail world, BOPIS is a highly valuable tool for traditional retailers. But it’s not one without its challenges. The success of BOPIS relies on stock accuracy, as research group IHL recently explained.
“Consumers first will look to the online systems to see if the inventory is in stock,” IHL notes.
“If the quantities are there, they will secure those items for pickup rather than ‘hope’ it arrives for shipping.”
However, IHL goes on to highlight that most retailers can be off by as much as 25 per cent on their store inventory counts.
“Most are playing a game with safety stock. Yet more than ever before, research online and BOPIS transactions are exposing even more out-of-stock issues for retailers.
“The average retailer is losing the equivalent of 3.4 per cent of same store sales due to out-of-stocks, and in apparel it is as much as 9 per cent of same store sales, a problem that is up 55 per cent worldwide since 2015.”
The out of stock/loss prevention link
In addition to costing retailers time and money, shoplifting and employee theft are two areas that contribute to inaccurate stock counting.
A retailer believes an item is available, advertises it as such online, only to find it’s missing and unaccounted for due to theft.
In the era of BOPIS this impacts a retailer in a couple of different ways:
- They have to source the item from another outlet quickly, incurring additional cost
- They have to inform the consumer it’s not available, damaging the customer experience
Meanwhile, traditional walk-in customers are impacted as well, due to unplanned shortage of items.
So, what should retailers do?
Ensuring stock accuracy
Like loss prevention itself, ensuring stock accuracy is a multi-faceted game.
Retailers need to ensure their stock is accurately counted in the first place, mitigate the risk of theft through improved loss prevention, and also maintain the integrity of stock counting through accurate and real-time tools such as RFID inventory counting.
And with retail peak season pending, now is the time to focus on both loss prevention and accuracy. IHL notes stock accuracy could be the very factor that separates the winners from the loses this shopping season.
“Customers come to stores because they need the products right now or need more information or expertise about the product,” they state.
“Those that leverage technologies like RFID and computer vision for inventory at the store are expecting sales increases that at up to 3x that of retailers that don’t. They realize that consumers simple won’t tolerate out-of-stocks any more with the age of the Amazon and Walmart marketplaces.
“So, it won’t be the shiny marketing campaign or catching lightning in a bottle that will separate the winners and losers. Being in-stock and the ability to execute on fulfillment that will separate the holiday leaders this year.”