What Is BOPIS? (+ How To Offer It for Your Grocery Store)

Your customers’ appetite for omnichannel convenience will continue to grow, so now is the time to be at the forefront of online grocery retail by implementing BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) options. 

Customers embrace buying groceries online. But for grocery stores, it represents a major shift and a struggle to adapt operations for smooth omnichannel execution. Creating seamless online grocery experiences might feel out of reach without the right tools and processes.

But there’s hope! Let us guide you to BOPIS success. In this article, we’ll show you a step-by-step process for launching BOPIS, and explore critical considerations from choosing a capable point of sale (POS) system to optimizing inventory management and more.

What Is BOPIS?

Many businesses had to pivot and adapt during the pandemic lockdowns, and it was no different for grocery stores. While BOPIS was already a thing, it didn’t gain traction until 2020 — and it’s not going anywhere.

There are benefits for both customers and your grocery store:

  • It’s a convenient way to shop for those customers short on time. Ordering ahead saves shoppers time and hassle. BOPIS offers flexibility to retrieve orders when it suits their schedule. This convenience can foster loyalty.
  • 47 percent of shoppers always or often purchase more products when they go to pick up their orders, increasing basket size and overall spending.
  • Advanced order picking and storage processes reduce checkout congestion and clutter. Streamlined fulfillment ensures quick order pickup, improving operations and customer convenience.

Related Read: 5 Benefits of Online Grocery Shopping: How You and Your Customers Both Win

  • BOPIS merges the digital and physical grocery experience for true omnichannel convenience. And with many consumers wanting a consistent experience across multiple channels, BOPIS is a great way to shop for their groceries.

What if you don’t or haven’t yet offered BOPIS to your customers? You’re missing out! Your customers will likely move to competitors. Meeting the omnichannel demand is now essential for your grocery store to thrive.

Step 1: Evaluate and Select an Advanced Point of Sale Solution 

Before considering offering BOPIS, you need your operations to run like a well-oiled machine. You must invest in the right point of sale solution to do so. There are various grocery store POS systems options, so how do you know which one to choose?

You can start with our article, The Best POS Software For Grocery Stores: 5 Solid Options. Then, dig deeper and find a robust POS system that supports BOPIS functionality. Look for features like:

  • Online ordering integration: You need a POS system that integrates with your e-commerce platform to link orders placed online with in-store management and fulfillment processes.
  • Inventory management: The right inventory management system provides real-time visibility into stock levels and makes automatic adjustments when products are sold online or in-store.
  • Customer communication: A POS system that integrates with your app, or allows you to send email messages from the POS system, allows you to update shoppers on their orders, and send pickup instructions.
  • Omnichannel reporting: With unified reporting and analytics, you can identify trends, optimize inventory, and coordinate pricing.

Your POS system should function as a central nervous system, connecting all shopping channels and data. Choose a proven POS platform designed specifically to support omnichannel grocery workflows rather than attempting to rig together various software tools.

Step 2: Set Up an Online Ordering Platform

You need an online ordering platform for customers to make online orders they can pick up in store. Easy, right? Not so fast. If customers struggle to navigate your platform, it crashes a lot, or it’s just not a good experience, you could lose them before they check out.

Good online platforms or e-commerce stores make it easy for customers to browse products, search for items, add to cart, select a pickup time, and check out securely. For this process to go smoothly, your online ordering front end and POS back office must be tightly integrated. This ensures real-time inventory synchronization so customers will see accurate product availability.

Ideally, you can leverage existing e-commerce platforms. For example, with IT Retail, you can partner with Local Express, Mercato, Freshop, or Instacart. Want to see the features they support? Check this out!

Streamlining online ordering is the customer-facing component that completes the BOPIS experience.

Step 3: Optimize Inventory Management

BOPIS will not be successful unless you have real-time inventory management capabilities. You need accurate visibility into stock levels to ensure customers can order what they want and need. Your POS system should support inventory monitoring across channels — when a customer places an order online or purchases an item in store, inventory should update immediately.

It’s the only way to prevent running out of stock and disappointing customers. You can set up your POS system to alert you when an item is running low. Some modern POS systems even automatically reorder products when they hit a certain threshold.

Related Read: How To Set Up a Point of Sale System for Your Grocery Store

Using historical sales data, you can look for patterns. Clever algorithms factor in seasonality, promotions, and other factors to project demand over the next few days or weeks. You can confidently fulfill online orders with a POS system with inventory management capabilities.

Step 4: Train Staff 

Every new process or procedure requires training staff. 

Online order management is nuanced, and to create stellar customer experiences, you’ll need to equip your team with the right tools and training. Errors and delays could lose customers and eat into your profits; explain the importance of accuracy and timeliness when packing online orders and set clear expectations.

You should standardize and document processes for efficiently locating, picking, packing, and storing online grocery orders. Remember to schedule additional staff and resources to accommodate online order volume while maintaining regular store operations.

Having everyone aligned on responsibilities and following clear procedures will help your store deliver positive BOPIS customer experiences.

Step 5: Implement Secure Payment and Order Verification 

If there’s one thing that causes hesitancy to shop online, it’s the thought of your details or bank account information being stolen. Establishing secure payment methods for online orders is essential, including encryption and fraud prevention measures. 

Here are some security measures you can implement:

  • Securing encrypted payment processing on your online platform with CVV and postal code verification. This reduces the risk of fraudulent transactions.
  • Verifying the customer's ID upon pickup to ensure the order matches their identity. This prevents unauthorized order retrieval.
  • Sending confirmation emails and texts to the recorded customer contact info when orders are placed, and notifications when ready for pickup. This confirms the order is legitimate.
  • Providing clear instructions on locations, pickup procedures, and reminders on ID requirements. This sets expectations to avoid pickup issues.
  • Utilizing video surveillance at pickup areas to deter theft of orders. Monitoring creates accountability.

Related Read: Grocery & Supermarket POS PCI Compliance: 4 Basics You MUST Know

Minimizing payment fraud is crucial to building trust and loyalty.

Step 6: Designate a BOPIS Pickup Area 

Leave nothing to chance! To ensure a smooth BOPIS process, allocate a designated area within your store for BOPIS order pickup. You can set aside space near your store entrance and use clear signage to direct customers.

Keep the area tidy and well-organized with shelving to store orders, and designate a checkout counter for ID verification and order distribution. Ample space prevents congestion, and having staff on hand to assist customers with locating their orders ensures a smooth workflow.

With an efficient, welcoming pickup zone, customers enjoy a quick, simple BOPIS experience. It demonstrates you’ve invested in making online grocery convenient for them.

IT Retail guide to POS hardware

Implementing BOPIS With IT Retail 

Following this simple, six-step process, you should be able to implement BOPIS in your grocery store without breaking a sweat! However, if you don’t get the first step right, the rest of the process will be much more challenging than it needs to be.

If you’re looking for a point of sale solution designed to enable online grocery that can help you get your store online quickly and easily, grow your customer base, and leverage a delivery network if you decide to implement grocery delivery in addition to BOPIS — look no further!

IT Retail’s point of sale solution integrates with most e-commerce platforms, so you can get your store online in a snap. 

To see if IT Retail is the right solution for your store, schedule a free demo today!