customer picking up BOPIS orders

BOPIS: How Buy Online, Pick Up In Store Works and How to Improve the Experience

It’s no surprise that BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) is so popular. Learn how it works, why it's effective, and how to optimize it for improved user experience.

If there’s one drawback to online ordering, it’s the wait for delivery. Many customers are happy to buy from the convenience of their home (or work, car, or train) but want access to their products right now, so it’s no surprise that BOPIS – “buy online, pickup in-store” – is so popular.

According to the US Click-and-Collect Forecast 2022, US consumers spent $96 billion on BOPIS orders in 2022, which accounts for 9% of all ecommerce sales.

Nearly two-thirds of US retail chains offer these “click and collect” services, and for good reason, as 72% of US consumers say they are more likely to buy online from a store that offers BOPIS services.

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role here. Many customers used buy-online-pickup-in-store and curbside pickup options simply to avoid crowds.

Businesses offering larger or more complicated products also often offer BOPIS to make sure customers get exactly what they want (and need). For example, a motorcycle or bike shop might allow you to customize and purchase online but encourage you to pick up in-store to get your seat custom-fit before riding off into the sunset.

And BOPIS shows no sign of slowing down. According to the Global Buy Online Pick Up In Store Marketplace Forecast, the global BOPIS industry was worth $243.89 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $703.2 billion in 2027.

BOPIS is a key part of an omnichannel retail strategy and a personalized customer experience. It blends the in-store and online experiences so customers can choose how and when they get their products. So, in order to be competitive, it’s important that you understand and offer BOPIS services.

What is BOPIS (or BOPUS)?

BOPIS meaning: Buy Online, Pickup In-Store is a shopping method where customers buy products through an online platform and then pick them up at a physical location instead of waiting for delivery.

BOPIS is sometimes abbreviated as BOPUS. It also goes by other names, like curbside pickup, click and reserve, online order pickup, click and collect, or “Buy Online, Collect In-Store” (BOCIS). It’s all the same process.

When you shop like this, you get all of the convenience of browsing for products at home without having to wait days–or weeks–for delivery. In some cases, the store will bring it out to your car for you.

Retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have embraced BOPIS to bridge the gap between online convenience and the immediacy of in-store shopping. Stores love this arrangement because it means they claw back an online sale that might otherwise go to online-first retailers like Amazon and can leverage their existing physical store network.

How BOPIS Works

The BOPUS business model is pretty simple: The customer orders online but collects the item at a physical location. Let’s walk through the shopping and order fulfillment process.

Step 1. Customers Buy Online Through Your Website or App

A customer browses your website or app until they find the products they need. They add those products to their shopping cart like they would for any online purchase.

At some point during the digital experience, the customer is given the option to have the item delivered or pick it up at a local physical location. In some cases, the customer must also select a time to pick up the item.

TCRunning company BOPIS option in checkout page

In order for this to work, stores must enable real-time inventory updates between the local POS system and the website or app. Otherwise, a customer may purchase a product that’s out of stock at their desired location.

Step 2: The Retailer Fulfills the Order

Next, the website or app sends the order to the chosen physical store. Employees are notified of the order and instructed to pick it off the shelf and prepare it for pickup.

A notification is then sent to the customer that the item is ready to pick up. In email form, they look something like this:

Order verification for BOPIS with checklist and instructions

If, for some reason, the item isn’t available, the employees must trigger a message that notifies the customer and lets them know what happens next. In some cases, an out-of-stock item can be sourced from a nearby location, as long as the customer is informed along the way.

Step 3: The Customer Retrieves the Order

Finally, the customer picks up the order at your store. Depending on your click-and-collect strategy, they may pick it up at a third-party location, such as the post office, a UPS/FedEx location, or a local locker specifically for ecommerce pickups.

If the store has the resources, they may offer curbside pickup, where the customer drives right up to the store, and an employee promptly delivers the item right to the car.

Why BOPIS is Effective for Ecommerce Businesses

Now that you understand how BOPIS works, you might be wondering why you should bother. Let’s explore the perks of buy-online-pickup-in-store services and why they’re a great opportunity for retailers.

Boosting Customer Satisfaction

BOPUS offers customers the convenience of online shopping with the instant gratification of picking up their purchases in-store. This creates a better shopping experience for many customers who simply don’t want to wait.

Is it right for every customer? Of course not, which is why BOPUS can always be an option, but never mandatory.

Reducing Shipping Costs

The customer always pays for shipping, whether the shipping fee is added at checkout or built into the cost of the products.

If the shipping fee is an add-on, the customer can avoid it by retrieving the items themselves. For example, with furniture retailers, shipping costs can quickly get into triple digits because of item size. So, picking up the item can save hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars.

If the shipping fee is built into the price, the store keeps the extra portion even though they aren’t shipping the item. This simply increases the margin.

This is a big win for customers, as well. It’s the top reason people like BOPIS.

survey about what consumers like about BOPIS

Driving In-Store Traffic

BOPUS brings customers into your brick-and-mortar store to pick up their orders. This creates an opportunity for additional sales. More foot traffic means additional purchases, as stores can capitalize on impulse buys and cross-selling opportunities.

Enhancing Customer Relationships

When customers pick up their orders in-store, businesses have a chance to interact with them face-to-face, strengthening the bond between the brand and the customer.

These personalized interactions foster trust and loyalty, which ultimately leads to long-term customer relationships and deeper customer satisfaction.

Encouraging Returns and Exchanges

BOPUS simplifies the returns and exchanges process by allowing customers to handle them in person, even if they made the purchase online. This provides a convenient solution for resolving issues, reduces return shipping costs for the business, and minimizes the time and resources spent on processing returns.

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How to Display BOPIS on Your Site (with Examples)

Displaying the BOPIS option on your site is relatively straightforward. Your job is to introduce it during the browsing experience so customers can’t miss it.

Let’s walk through the BOPIS process using Target as an example.

1. Build a BOPIS Landing Page

Shoppers may need a little help understanding your BOPIS model, especially if they’ve never used this kind of system before. It’s smart to build a simple landing page that explains how it works for your store.

Target does a great job here. Their page includes everything you need, including links to download the app, instructions for how to use it, returns information, and even a Starbucks upsell.

BOPIS page for Target

2. Have the Customer Select a Location

At some point during the process, the customer will need to select their preferred location. When you click the location link at the top-left of any Target page, an overlay appears that offers store options. Selecting a store saves it for your future orders.

Store locator page for Target

3. Provide the BOPIS Option on Product Pages

Give customers the option to select BOPIS on each product page. This helps them plan the rest of their shopping experience.

Target smartly uses a visual selector on the product page. It’s impossible to miss. Additional information is provided beneath the selector, including the current location, pickup time, and order availability.

BOPIS option in Target checkout

Clicking the “Check other stores” link gives the user the option to change stores. This is helpful if the product is out-of-stock at their usual store or if they prefer to pick it up at a different location (perhaps they’ll be in the area).

'Check other stores' option in Target

4. Give BOPIS and Delivery Options in the Shopping Cart

It’s smart to present the BOPIS-or-delivery choice on the shopping cart page as well. This is helpful for customers who chose incorrectly on the product page (some people shop quickly!) or may want different options for each product. Include a “change store” link as well.

BOPIS option on shopping cart page in Target

Optimizing the BOPUS/BOPIS Experience

Now that we’ve outlined the core moments in a BOPIS web journey, let’s talk about optimizing the experience. Your job is to present this choice in a simple, pain-free way without distracting from the checkout process.

1. Pre-fill Important Details During The BOPIS Experience

Modern shoppers want more than a frictionless online shopping experience. They want a dynamic experience that’s tailored to their needs and preferences.

The most straightforward way to personalize the BOPIS experience is to give the customer the ability to select their preferred store. Better yet, meet customer expectations and reduce distractions by using geolocation to identify and select the closest store for them.

Nordstrpm product page with a free pick up option

Next, promote local offerings based on user-selected stores. For instance, if a customer selects your Cincinnati, Ohio location, show them promotions specific to that location.

2. Set Proper Expectations on Your BOPIS Landing Page

Remember that landing page we spoke about earlier? Here are some tips to make it effective:

  • Make it easily findable in your main navigation.
  • Clearly explain how BOPIS works. Provide step-by-step instructions for the entire process, including the in-person part.
  • Mention any special promotions or deals they get for using BOPIS.
  • Include a dynamic section that displays any local promotions for the currently chosen store or an opportunity to replace anything that is unavailable.

3. Optimize Local Landing Pages

If you have landing pages for each store, it’s important to optimize them as well. They should include information about your BOPIS program and/or a link to the main BOPIS landing page. Use proper schema markup so it displays properly as a Google Business page.

For the sake of customer convenience, include any information the customer needs about the location, like directions, store hours, and additional departments or services that may be available.

Check out this great landing page from DressUp.

DressUp landing page

4. Mitigate Errors on Product and Category Pages

Your product and category pages that offer BOPIS services should clearly identify which location offers them. There can be no confusion here. If a customer shows up at the wrong store, they will not be happy, even if the mistake is their own fault.

Furthermore, clicking the store’s label should give the customer the option to change locations. This process should be simple and intuitive without breaking the checkout flow.

5. Make Sure Your Website and/or App is Bug-Free and Speedy

Make sure all of your BOPIS components are mobile-friendly and functional on all browsers and devices, including your landing page, store selector, and other widgets. Broken tech is one of the surest ways to lose a sale.

Furthermore, take care to integrate your website/app with your inventory tracking system. Whatever software guides your BOPIS system needs to know inventory levels at each location.

6. Establish a Pick-Up Location

Designating a pick-up location seems like a minor part of the process, but it’s actually a key step. Remember that your customers are using BOPIS because it’s convenient. If they spend 10 minutes looking for the pickup location, you might wipe out all of their time savings.

Put your pickup station near your main entrance at the customer service desk or a specialty desk for online customers. Label it clearly with obvious signage. And make sure your team is ready to verify the order and hand over the products quickly.

7. Keep Your Customer Updated

Customer engagement is key here. Since BOPIS requires your customers to appear in person, it’s critical that you keep them updated regarding the process of your order.

On one hand, you want them to arrive as soon as the order is ready to reduce their wait, but if you notify them too soon, there’s a chance they show up before you’ve picked out their order.

Keep your customer well informed about the process. Notify them when you receive the order, when you start picking it, and when it’s ready. Include clear instructions to help them collect it, especially regarding what they have to do (visit a desk, reply to a text, etc.).

Target notifies customers with push notifications. Customers can respond in-app to the BOPIS team with questions or instructions.

Target push notifications for pickup orders

8. Build BOPIS Into Your Marketing

Your BOPIS system is a marketing asset, so make sure to include it in your promotions. Send regular reminders to your audience about their ability to pick up in person.

If you promote to local customers with social media ads or display ads, indicate somewhere that your products are eligible for local pickup.

BOPIS should also make an appearance in your cart abandonment emails in case they object to your delivery times.

Common Questions About Buy Online, Pick Up In Store

Still have questions about BOPIS and how it works? Here are some common questions people ask about buy-online-pickup-in-store.

What is the difference between BOPIS and curbside pickup?

BOPIS involves customers ordering online and picking up their purchases inside the store. Curbside pickup, on the other hand, allows customers to remain in their vehicles while store staff bring their orders directly to their car, so the transaction is completely contactless.

Is BOPIS the same as click and collect?

Yes, BOPIS (Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store) and click and collect refer to the same service. Both terms describe the process of customers purchasing items online and then picking them up at a physical store location.

What is ROPIS?

ROPIS stands for Reserve Online, Pick Up In-Store. It’s a service similar to BOPIS, where customers reserve items online and then pick them up and pay at a designated store location. This approach allows customers to secure specific items before visiting the store, but they still have to pay in person.

How long does it take for BOPIS orders to be ready for pickup?

Typically, BOPIS orders are ready for pickup within a few hours to one business day, depending on store policies and order volume. Stores send a notification when orders are ready for collection.

Does BOPIS allow for returns or exchanges?

Generally, most stores allow returns and exchanges for items purchased through BOPIS. Some stores require customers to bring it back to the original location, whereas others allow returns at any location.

Is there a fee for using the BOPIS service?

In most cases, BOPIS is offered as a complimentary service, though some stores have minimum order requirements or fees for expedited pickups.

What are the disadvantages of BOPIS?

Potential disadvantages include limited product availability, longer wait times during peak periods, possible confusion with order pickups, and the need for customers to travel to the store, which may not be feasible for everyone.

BOPIS and Your Digital Experience

Buy-online-pickup-in-store is just one small component of your business model and entire digital experience. It works alongside the other features of your online presence to create a streamlined, robust, and personalized shopping experience for your customers.

If you’re looking for strategies to improve, our Digital Experience Optimization Program™ is a custom plan for ecommerce and product marketing teams that unlocks the full potential of your website, app, or digital product. Learn more.

Behind The Click

Behind The Click

Learn how to use the hidden psychological forces that shape online behavior to craft digital journeys that delight, engage, and convert.

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About the Author

Sumita Paulson

Sumita is a Strategist at The Good with a decade of experience as a front-end developer. She works to create meaningful digital experiences and solve the everyday problems that make up our interactions with technology.