BOPIS, Retail's Latest Acronym, Makes the Case for Delayed Gratification

Home Depot sees a spike, and additional sales, in customers choosing to buy online and pick up their purchases in store

One of the biggest themes at this year’s National Retail Federation show (NRF) didn’t involve AI or robots. Instead, it was a new acronym buzzword: BOPIS, known as Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store. And it’s a key part of what’s driving growth for retailers like Home Depot in the fast-fulfillment Amazon era.

According to a new case study from Adobe Analytics, the volume of BOPIS grew 73 percent between Thanksgiving to Black Friday this holiday season. Which makes sense: customers sitting around after Thanksgiving dinner could get started on their holiday shopping, score some deals and then pick up their purchases in store the next day, avoiding long lines (and, in some cases, human interaction).

For Home Depot, an Adobe customer for more than a decade, 48 percent of online orders in 2018 used BOPIS, retrieving their items from lockers set aside for this purpose or a customer service counter. (To accommodate the pickup lockers, Home Depot redid some of its stores.) Notably, 20 percent of shoppers went on to buy even more items when they arrived to pick up their products.

In fact, 47 percent of all orders placed on Home Depot’s website are fulfilled either via BOPIS or BOSS (Buy-Online-Ship-to-Store), said Matt Jones, senior director, digital strategy and mobile apps for Home Depot. “The customer is going to dictate to us how they want to shop,” he said, “and we as a company need to be able to respond to that and provide whatever type of option that is.”

BOPIS has also reduced shipping costs for Home Depot, though it wouldn’t disclose how much.

Nate Smith, group manager at Adobe Analytics, said while keeping up with innovations like BOPIS will definitely involve an upfront cost and investment on a retailer’s part, it’s worth it, seeing as Adobe also found that 60 percent of millennials want to go to a store first, and then shop online afterward.

“The bottom line is there has to be an investment made in technology,” said Smith, who attributes the rise of BOPIS in part to “porch pirates,” a term used to describe the theft of packages from people’s porches and apartment buildings. “When you have the opportunity to have something like BOPIS in place, I can browse and purchase in a comfort zone of my own choosing.”

“[BOPIS has] presented a lot of challenges that we’ve had to work through as a team,” Jones said. “But it’s clear that the customer is telling us this is how we want to shop and engage.”

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