“Buy Online, Pick Up in Store” Services Increasingly Popular Among Consumers

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JDA Software Inc. released Monday its 2017 survey on U.S. consumer attitudes toward in-store shopping and e-commerce. Quite fittingly, Monday was also Amazon Prime Day — the rich man’s version of Black Friday, as shoppers would need to have the $99 annual membership in order to get in on the deals.

If the flurry of “best deals” articles from across the internet is any indication, Amazon Prime Day is practically a holiday. It reminds one of the fictional future world in “Infinite Jest,” where corporations bid for the right to name calendar years. And thus we’re treated to the “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment” and the “Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar.”

Aside from getting a good excuse to go off on a tangent, I bring up Amazon Prime Day because there is arguably no other company that has had such an enormous effect on how people shop. Amazon’s name is often mentioned in discussions about the rise of e-commerce and the decline of brick-and-mortar stores.

A “Cure for the Store”?

With no one batting an eye over free two-day shipping anymore and drone deliveries on the horizon, it’s no wonder that only 54% of the 1,000 consumers JDA surveyed said they prefer to shop in a physical store. In other words, nearly half of shoppers prefer to make purchases online or through a retailer’s mobile app. Interestingly, this pattern was consistent across age groups.

However, JDA’s survey findings suggest that physical stores can become more competitive by working with their online counterparts and offering fulfillment options like BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) and BORIS (buy online, return in store) — or a “cure for the store,” as the report puts it.

Half of this year’s respondents said that they have picked up an online purchase in a physical store in the past 12 months. This is a steady increase from last year, as well as a 43% increase since JDA’s 2015 survey.

Jim Prewitt, vice president of retail industry strategy at JDA, said that more than 80% of respondents who used BOPIS were age 30 or older. Those in the 30–44 age group were twice as likely than the 18–29 group to have picked up or returned online purchases in the past 12 months.

There are several appealing factors about BOPIS from the perspective of consumers. If they want the product immediately, it is often more cost-effective to go pick it up themselves rather than pay for expedited delivery. They can run errands and pick up the item during one trip. And they are not at the mercy of the postal service.

Indeed, avoiding home delivery charges and getting merchandise faster were cited by 40% and 33% of respondents, respectively, as reasons for using BOPIS.

From the retailer’s perspective, BOPIS can drive more traffic to physical stores and encourage more spending. Half of the survey respondents who use BOPIS said that they make additional purchases when they go to a store to pick up something they bought online.

Source: JDA Software Inc.’s 2017 Consumer Survey

BORIS, or returning online purchases to a physical store, may hold just as much promise for making stores more competitive. An overwhelming majority of respondents (70%) said that they would rather return a product that was purchased online to a store. Anyone who has dealt with repacking a purchase, shipping it back to the retailer and waiting for the refund can understand.

Like with BOPIS, retailers that offer BORIS thus encourage consumers to go to physical stores, making it more likely that they would buy something else while returning their online purchase.

Perhaps brick-and-mortar stores aren’t fated to die off just yet. Prewitt expects e-commerce to continue its growth, but the speed will depend on whether retailers can make shopping in stores appealing to millennials and Generation Z consumers.

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