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10/26/2022

Bi-Mart’s Patrick O’Connell on Rolling Out BOPIS

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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“Make sure you treat this as a company-wide project and build the appropriate levels of cross-functional alignment in your organization," says Bi-Mart’s Patrick O’Connell, director of project development.

Offering shoppers buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) may seem like a must-have for any omnichannel retailer today, but what does the implementation process entail?

RIS catches up with Bi-Mart’s Patrick O’Connell, director of project development, to find out what challenges and benefits the retailer encountered while implementing BOPIS technologies over nine months.

For just over a year now, Bi-Mart has been able to sell its product assortment online, allowing member customers to pick up orders from either Bi-Mart or Cascade Farm and Outdoor stores. Customers may also place orders at CascadeFarmAndOutdoor.com and pick up from any Bi-Mart store they choose. The feature is available across its full brick-and-mortar presence  around 84 stores throughout the Northwest in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

“One of the top suggestions we were hearing from customers was ‘the ability to see merchandise assortment information online and complete that purchase through the website,’” O’Connell tells RIS. “Once the pandemic started in 2020, we prioritized our e-commerce and order management efforts to accommodate our customers’ needs, including introducing BOPIS. It took about nine months to implement Kibo’s e-commerce platform and order management system, and roll out our BOPIS program.”

Since the implementation, which also included working with e-commerce agency Ignitiv, Bi-Mart has seen an increase in website traffic and memberships. But the benefits didn’t come without challenges and one of the biggest was first making the website shoppable.

“Our customers couldn’t see product availability or information, or complete purchases on the old website,” explains O’Connell. “We had to implement an e-commerce platform as well as populate and catalog our merchandise system with the appropriate level of information needed for a customer to complete an online purchase. This included product details, product images, and categorizing items in a format that made sense for online shoppers.”

With Kibo, Bi-Mart was able to make the website shoppable and give its customers full visibility into product availability based on their store location and estimated pickup time.

Another key challenge of the BOPIS program was making sure the company had the processes, people, and roles in place to support and manage the various marketing and customer service functions associated with the website.

“Not only did we need to train our store associates on the program, but we also had to encourage customer enablement," he notes. "This meant creating a promotional plan to inform current customers about the new online shopping and fulfillment option and leveraging BOPIS messaging in our marketing campaigns to attract new shoppers.”

Buy-in From the Bi-Mart Frontline

A pioneer of membership, discount shopping—Bi-Mart offers a “deep discount” approach to merchandising brand name goods. The retailer’s lifetime membership costs $5.00 and it boasts over 1.2 million membership families, as well as 3,500 employees.

“Fortunately, our store associates were very welcoming of the BOPIS program,” says O’Connell. “Being on the frontline, they’re the ones hearing our customers’ concerns about the inability to shop on the old website.”

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“We had to implement an e-commerce platform as well as populate and catalog our merchandise system with the appropriate level of information needed for a customer to complete an online purchase," says Patrick O’Connell, director of project development.

Prior to launching the BOPIS program, Bi-Mart provided each store with a step-by-step training manual and conducted multiple calls with store leadership. The retailer started the BOPIS program in two stores close to the Bi-Mart headquarters, allowing members of the corporate team to be onsite for training and determine if the current process needed any adjustments before rolling it out to additional stores.

“To ensure consistency in storing, picking, and processing BOPIS orders, we gave the store associates plenty of time to learn the process and work with the Kibo system before launching,” he says. “At the store level, the existing customer service representatives fulfill the BOPIS orders, but we added an e-commerce customer service representative to help customers while they shop online.”

Additionally, the company provides each store with unique access to the Kibo system at the customer service counter. The solution’s intuitive user interface makes it easy for store associates to see online orders come in, which items need to be picked, and ensure the order gets to the right customer.

“With the implementation of this BOPIS solution from Kibo, we have taken a huge step forward, by providing more shopping options to our loyal members”, Bi-Mart CEO Rich Truett, noted in a press release. “As an employee-owned business, this implementation gives all of our associate stakeholders the power to improve customer experience in a meaningful way.”

3 Pieces of Advice

With BOPIS and curbside tech spending on the rise ⁠— last year, RIS research found 22% of retailers’ current in-store tech budget is allocated to BOPIS and curbside, up from 19% in 2020 ⁠— getting the process right can ensure money is well spent. For retailers looking to add BOPIS to their consumer experience, O’Connell offers three pieces of advice:

    "Make sure you treat this as a company-wide project and build the appropriate levels of cross-functional alignment in your organization. It will touch most key areas in a retail organization, especially store operations, merchandising, and marketing.

    "Leverage your existing processes, procedures, and policies relative to in-store customer service in order to make BOPIS transactions a seamless part of your overall customer experience.

    "Implement the new service into stores in a wave format (test/pilot/roll), allowing you to learn along the way and make sure the systems, processes, and training you have put in place are all working as intended."