Today more than ever, consumers have options when it comes to methods of procuring and acquiring merchandise. Consumers can procure merchandise by ordering online or shopping a physical store location. Similarly, consumers can acquire said merchandise via in-store pick-up, home/place-of-employment delivery, or even third-party receiving (think UPS or Amazon lockers). With consumer preference driving these trends, retailers have been getting creative with their handoff-to-consumer practices.

One creative way retailers have been meeting consumer acquisition preferences are buy online, pick-up models. The buy online pick-up models require the customer to come into a physical store location to get their merchandise, rather than shipping direct to consumer or a third-party receiving service. Retailers need to be flexible in order to remain competitive with the conveniences of the internet age. Retailers see benefit in in-store pick-up, as it drives consumers to the physical retail location, tempting them to grab additional merchandise from the floor. Retailers can encourage the pick-up in-store model by making the free shipment minimum dollar threshold high and offering free in-store pick-up.

Since the late 2000’s, when retailers began offering the option, Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) has been an increasingly popular product acquisition trend for consumers. The BOPIS model allows stores to use their inventory to meet consumer purchase needs, while eliminating shipping costs and wait time for consumers. Some downsides to this model are that it makes in-store operations less efficient by increasing labor costs (people have to pick out and package orders), could involve pulling merchandise that has already been placed on the floor, and is dependent on in-store product availability.

A new model retailers are toying with this holiday season is Buy Online, Ship-to-Store (BOSS). The BOSS model allows consumers to purchase online, just like the BOPIS model. The key difference is the merchandise fulfillment is managed directly by a warehouse and shipped to the store’s physical location, rather than in-store retail staff picking and packing. This new model augurs to reduce the out-of-stock scenarios encountered in the BOPIS model, while still drawing consumers into the store. The BOSS model also gives consumers access to a larger product selection than the BOPIS model.

This holiday season is predicted to be incredibly busy and retailers are having to experiment with new ways to engage consumers. The buy online, consumer pick-up models encourage consumers to come to a physical location and increase the chances that the consumer will snag a few extra goodies not included in their online order. Consumers benefit from these models by eliminating extra shipping charges and making the holiday shopping season a bit simpler. The new BOSS model may prove to more efficient than BOPIS, but only time will tell. Have you had a good experience buying online and picking up in-store? What were your reasons for opting to pick up rather than to receive shipments at your residence?

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Jonathan Groda

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