Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alan Diaz/AP/REX/Shutterstock (7524038e)Shoppers walk by a Neiman Marcus department store on Black Friday in Miami, . Stores open their doors Friday for what is still one of the busiest days of the year, even as the start of the holiday season edges ever earlierHoliday Shopping Black Friday, Miami, USA - 25 Nov 2016

Retailers may want to rethink their store closure plans, and make close friends with BOPIS and BORIS.

According to the latest consumer survey by JDA Software, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) may be “the cure” for the woes of physical retailing today. The company’s third annual consumer survey, which tapped over 1,000 shoppers for insights, found that 54 percent of respondents “reported that they prefer to shop in-store over other channels, like online, mobile and social media.”

The survey also showed that about 46 percent “prefer to skip the store altogether in favor of digital channels.” However, the researchers at the firm said that a “quick and easy shopping experience” was favored over a “personalized experience by three in four respondents, and year over year data showed a steady 44 percent increase in convenient BOPIS adoption [since the first survey in 2015].”

Jim Prewitt, vice president of retail industry strategy at JDA, said the survey “highlights the changing role of retail stores. While there has been speculation of a ‘retail apocalypse,’ that doesn’t seem to hold true for consumers. No longer the only channel for shopping, bricks-and-mortar stores are still a key cornerstone for a quick and easy shopping experience and the facilitator for popular fulfillment options, like BOPIS and buy-online-return-in-store.”

The survey found that half those polled had used BOPIS services at least once in the past year. “By offering incentives, however, that uptick could rise significantly; 80 percent of shoppers would consider using the service if retailers offered price discounts or incentives,” researchers of the study said in their report. “This would, in turn, add value to the consumer shopping experience, while pushing retailers to differentiate themselves among competitors through special offers.”

Prewitt said by offering incentives to shoppers to use BOPIS, “like discounting, retailers are driving more foot traffic into stores, and potentially, buying more than they intended to, once they arrive at the store, boosting store sales.”

As retailers roll out and expand BOPIS services, they still have work to do in regard to increasing conversions while the shopper is in the store to pick up their orders. “Of the respondents that use buy-online-pickup-in-store services, 40 percent ‘sometimes’ made additional purchases in-store,” JDA noted.

The researchers also found that of the shoppers using BOPIS nearly 40 percent did so to avoid home delivery while just over 33 percent said it was because they wanted the product sooner — results that were similar to what consumers said in the prior two surveys. “And with more retailers successfully implementing the service, 58 percent of respondents did not experience a problem with the service over the last year,” the authors of the report said.

But that doesn’t mean there are not pain points. “When consumers do experience issues with BOPIS services, they continue to be associated with mismanaged staffing,” JDA researchers said. “Twenty-three percent found that store staff took a long time or were unable to find the shopper’s order in their store system, and 16 percent found that there were no dedicated staff in store for BOPIS purchases. This is consistent with 2016 results, and showcases the need to refine workforce management for new fulfillment channels to compete in today’s retail environment.”

And although there’s still 136 days until Black Friday, holiday shopping is clearly on the minds of consumers: “More than half of respondents (57 percent) would rather complete their holiday shopping throughout the year and outside of the holiday season rush,” JDA said.

The report also found that 25 percent of respondents “favor online Cyber Monday purchases” while 12 percent said they preferred Black Friday in-store deals.” And about 6 percent of respondents said they “prefer making their holiday purchases during Amazon Prime Day.”

For More Business News From WWD, See:

Amazon, Wal-Mart and Apple Top List of Biggest E-commerce Retailers

Consumer Preferences Reshaping Retail Landscape

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