‘Buy Online, Pickup In Store’ Can Save Retailers During This Year’s Shorter Holiday Period

The shorter time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas means that consumers have less opportunity to shop for gifts. With tighter deadlines for delivery, a new CommerceHub report suggests that retailers can get ahead by offering alternatives to shipping such as “buy online, pickup in store.”

BOPIS is offered by many retailers year-round, but it can provide a particular incentive for time-restricted consumers doing their holiday shopping. The CommerceHub survey of 3,000 e-commerce consumers found that 49% of respondents chose BOPIS because it allowed them to receive their item more quickly, while 44% were drawn to saving money on shipping costs.

For retailers, the cost and labor of shipping product is also reduced when BOPIS is used. At Target, the decision was made to fulfill two-thirds of digital orders from physical stores. CEO Brian Cornell reported that moving the distribution to stores from designated distribution centers has cut costs by 40%. A second benefit for retailers is the increased opportunity for attachment sales when customers come to collect their purchases.

“When consumers elect to pick up their purchases in-store, retailers are not only able to reduce their shipping costs but also sell even more product, as these same consumers (85%) tend to make additional purchases once they come in-store to retrieve their orders — something that could easily feed into holiday sale buzz,” said Erik Morton, SVP of product and strategy at CommerceHub.

For the consumers who still want to have their items delivered, the report supported previous findings that delivery certainty is more important to shoppers than speed. Retailers should be wary of overestimating delivery speeds since providing an inaccurate delivery window has significant repercussions: 64% said a delayed delivery would turn them off a retailer. Instead, retailers should be honest if they cannot offer same- or next-day shipping and focus on certainty; 46% said a three- to five-day delivery window is fine.

Other trends reported by CommerceHub include the importance of sustainability and the role of marketplaces. Being environmentally friendly ranked as very or somewhat important by 83% of respondents, while 82% reported that they would shop for their holiday gifts on marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart or eBay. Direct-to-consumer brands were only expected to serve 2% of customers, despite the recent growth in this market.

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