5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Implementing BOPIS

Read Time: 4 minutes

What is BOPIS?

BOPIS refers to the combination of online and offline shopping, where customers prefer to make their purchase online yet still pick up the item from the store.  Last year, around one-third of the shoppers in the US opted to buy their products online and still pick them up from the store.  Please don’t just gloss over that last statistic because it’s an important one.  ONE out of THREE shoppers in the US has already used BOPIS.  You may have also heard BOPIS referred to as “Click and Collect”. It is a business model, where customers get the best of both worlds. They get the benefits of online shopping combined with the advantages offered by traditional shopping.

Many of you may be wondering if your pet store is even ready for BOPIS, and I am glad that’s what you’re thinking because not every retailer is.  Today we are going to discuss some very pivotal questions that you need to ask yourself before undertaking such an important task. 

Is my inventory accurate? 

In order to make sure your BOPIS launch is a good one, I cannot stress how important it is for you to have an accurate inventory.  The last thing you want to have happened is for one of your new BOPIS customers to buy something from you, that you don’t actually have.  If you have questions about your inventory, please feel free to go here and read more on ways to make sure your inventory is accurate. 

Is my accurate inventory available online?

Now that we know we have an accurate inventory, it’s time to make sure that inventory is available online.  The easiest way to do this is to make sure your Point of Sale is integrated into your eCommerce website.  A majority of the websites I have worked with that utilize Magento, Shopify, Big Commerce, etc. do have these integrations available, just reach out to your partner that manages your POS and they should be able to help you.  If you are in the process of building a website and you have not confirmed with your POS supplier that it is compatible, please do so.  Integrating your POS to your website will be critical to your ability to offer BOPIS. 

What inventory do I want to be able to sell via BOPIS? 

This is entirely up to you, but in the end, it should be left up to your customers.  In the world of pet stores, there is a multitude of products that your consumers may want to pick out for themselves.  But don’t let common sense get in the way of good commerce because you never really know.  When I first started using Walmart’s BOPIS, I never purchased fruit and vegetables, but now I have them on every single order.  Just remember that what your offering is the best service, so my advice is to start with products that are regular orders AKA dog food, leashes, treats, etc. 

What Technology is needed to make BOPIS work best?

POS: You’re going to need a POS so that you can keep track of the orders, customers, and inventory.

Website: You’re going to need an eCommerce website that is integrated into your POS, to ensure accurate inventory and omnichannel connectivity. 

Handheld: You don’t 100% need a handheld scanner, but I highly recommend it.  This will allow you to go through your customer’s order, notify them of substitutions, and scan items.  In the end, you can even have the customer sign off on the order via the handheld. 

A Parking Space: Again, you don’t 100% need this one but a designated parking space for BOPIS customers will help you market it, as well as provide a quick in and out for your BOPIS customers which is typically very important. 

Do I have the appropriate staff available for BOPIS? 

Sometimes I find that I am too analytical, and this is one of those times.  You could be asking me if you have enough quantity of staff, but you could also be asking me if you have the correct caliber of staff.  The easier of the two to answer is quantity so I will start there.  I recommend that you have at least one able-bodied employee to oversee picking orders and if necessary that same person can receive the orders, fulfill them, and deliver them to the clerk.  I also recommend hiring for this role, as then the employee will be more likely to focus on making sure BOPIS is successful. 

If you were asking me if you have the appropriate caliber of employee, then I find that hiring for the role also solves this quandary.  By hiring for the role that person understands that it is their sole purpose to make sure BOPIS is successful.  If this employee understands that they are responsible for a timely response to the order, the correctness of the order, and the delivery of that order, then you will most likely have a very successful adoption of BOPIS. 

Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS.  He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size.  In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)