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FAQ: Buy/Shop Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)

This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
FAQ: Buy/Shop Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) Buy/shop online pickup in-store has been around as a concept, for some time. It is better known as BOPIS, or as click and collect. Although the retailing industry has been discussing its benefits for years, some countries have adopted it very gradually. The Omni-2000 research series showed that countries vary in their adoption. For example, only 27.5% of US retailers, 31.4% of Australian retailers, and 31.0% of Canadian retailers offer the service. A growing number of consumers are aware of it and want the service and its options. As such, many more retailers will work to deploy this omni-channel practice. What follows are several frequently asked questions (FAQ) taken from Google query streams. These specifically address buy online pickup in-store or shop online pickup in-store:  

Q: How Does Click and Collect Work?

Click and Collect’ and ‘buy online pickup in-store' or 'shop online pickup in-store' are synonymous. It works when a retailer uses e-commerce to sell goods online. However, in this case, the retailer lets shoppers choose whether they want orders delivered or held for pickup.

The Customer Side

After the shopper selects their goods, and pays (by debit card, credit card, an app...), they can select their pickup location. Merchants will state business days and local times available for collection. Now the merchant communicates with the customer. For example, they may send an email when the order is ready for pickup. Then the customer goes to that location to collect their order. Customers who need an order fast can avoid paying extra for same-day delivery or next-day shipping.

The Merchant Side

Naturally, the advantage for retailers is that BOPIS avoids the cost of 'free shipping'. After an order is placed online the distributed order management system (DOM) finds the optimal inventory location for fulfillment. Intelligent set up systems will prioritize inventory at the pickup location while ensuring the online orders do not disrupt availability for in-store shoppers. This way, if an item is already available at that location, it will be held for the customer. Alternatively, goods may be brought to the pickup location from other stores, or from a warehouse. Finally, items are held at a pickup area (perhaps a pickup locker), for the customer.

Q: Is BOSS the Same as BOPIS?

BOSS stands for buy online ship-to-store. BOPIS refers to buy/shop online pickup in-store.

The Customer Side

From a consumer's perspective, there is no difference and the end result should be identical. Our shopper orders online and opts to 'buy online pick up in-store', or 'click and collect'. As a pickup option, they choose a local store or pickup location. The customer receives an email or notification after the online order. This tells them when to 'come pick up your order' or that the order was 'shipped to your store'. Then the customer arrives with proof of purchase for pickup and/or a photo ID, and collect their items. From the shopper's viewpoint, there is no difference.

The Merchant Side

Where the two processes deviate is the backend. BOSS takes all online orders and routes them to the warehouse (most typical case used by retailers today). From the warehouse, the items are sent to the store or pickup location. The way it is used today, this is a simple, single business rule option. However, it is NOT ideal. Unlike BOSS, BOPIS is a generalized version. BOPIS does NOT force items to be shipped from the warehouse for pickup. An intelligent order management system will scan the store location first. If the ordered items are available at the pickup location, then it will use that inventory. There is no need to send more goods to that location. In fact, this helps the store manager by increasing inventory turn velocity. Generally, this also provides stores with credit for the sale. That is a smart move, to encourage the organization to embrace omni-channel practices. If the items are not available at the pickup location, then BOPIS and BOSS function identically. In this regard, the order is routed to the optimal distribution center, to send the product to the store for pickup.  

Q: Which is Better BOSS or BOPIS (Click and Collect)?

As expressed, BOSS always sends the customer purchase to the pickup location, usually from the warehouse. This does NOT use the existing in-store inventory. From this perspective, BOSS is deficient, in that existing inventory at the pickup location may not be used effectively. A good distributed order management system (DOM), like the OrderDynamics system, can seek to use in-store inventory, as a priority. Ideally, the DOM should route orders to the optimal location for fulfillment. If there is inventory at the pickup location, then it makes sense to use that inventory. It uses no additional effort to get a product to a location that already has that item available. On a shop online pickup in-store option, when inventory is not available at the pickup point, then both BOSS and BOPIS may resort to shipping goods from the warehouse. Depending on the sophistication of the DOM/OMS - when an item is not in stock at a store, then it may route goods from another store location. Again, this leverages field inventory to fulfill shopper requests.  

Q: Can You Run Buy/Shop Online Pickup In-Store Without an OMS?

The simple answer is NO. No mid-enterprise sized retailer should attempt to buy/shop online pickup in-store without a DOM. Trying to run DOM functions without a DOM are just foolish. Core functions being: Real-time inventory visibility. Order orchestration. Intelligent order routings. Fast returns processing. Advanced capabilities like order consolidation, pre-orders and split payment. Once a retailer has 10 or more stores, a business simply cannot function well without advanced capabilities. It quickly becomes an insurmountable logistics challenge. To maintain reasonable customer service levels, no retailer attempting BOPIS should do so without a DOM. Specific to click and collect / BOPIS, mid-enterprise retailers need DOMs to effectively manage the business.

Further Questions

If you have a further question about retail ship-to-store, or any other retail/order management related question – please send us a note to  We will get back to you with an answer as soon as we can. It might even inspire our next blog post!
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