RIS: What are some of the major challenges retailers face with buy online, pick up in store?
Burel: Fulfillment cost, fulfillment accuracy, impact of out-of-stock and on-time order readiness (timeliness) are all major challenges retailers face in sustaining a BOPIS program. There are often competing interests that require constant rebalancing or other dynamic factors like weather, transportation issues, competing channels, etc. making real-time data availability and complex orders and fulfillment decisioning an absolute necessity. Many retailers lack this capability today.
RIS: What are some best BOPIS practices to ensure success?
Burel: There is a lot that goes into getting BOPIS right:
- Sustained training and automation tools for pickers.
- Timeliness, accuracy and service level scoring for pickers, with incentives.
- Pick route planning to optimize labor, reduce costs and cycle times.
- Congestion protocols to address period when picking is difficult, including secondary pick points (cross merchandising), picker separation and other methods to help reduce aisle congestion or creating bottlenecks.
- Substitution policies that eliminate out-of-stock order shortages and can help up-sell.
- “Personal shopper like picking,” allowing customers to indicate specific preferences and the ability to give feedback on last order for continual improvement.
RIS: How can technology help the click-and-collect process (with regards to infrastructure and customer experience)?
Burel: Real-time integration of POS, e-commerce, inventory, merchandising, order and task management systems are required to deliver BOPIS effectively and consistently. Having a single set of order and transaction engines is a strategic advantage from a position of both cost and accuracy. Since systems change constantly, having the ability to effectively manage the supporting infrastructure, platforms and applications in a way that does not jeopardize business continuity is critical to BOPIS execution.
RIS: What does the future of click-and-collect look like?
Burel: Automation to reduce cost, improve speed and accuracy. Probable solutions range from visual aids to help pickers find items faster, to split fulfillment where high velocity SKUs are delivered from micro-fulfillment centers while specialty items, produce, and other premium products are still hand-picked and delivered with white-glove service.
AI-driven processes that anticipate higher order volumes, higher demand SKUs and external factors that might influence order accuracy and fulfillment timeliness.
Reserved items for BOPIS that are only available for a limited time, non-stock specialty items fulfilled in a seamless fashion and integrated services such as in-home meal preparation, party services, and even clean-up.
Pre-populated shopping lists based on seasonally adjusted inventory and personalized order history that remember "likes" and remind the consumer at just the right time.
Subscription services, zero delivery cost (with rules) that are designed to grow basket size and/or incent consumers to receive orders during specific windows when fulfillment demands are lower or delivery routes are paired and closer.