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What is BOPIS? Comparing BOPIS with BOPIL


BOPIS (not to be confused with a popular Spanish dish) is an omnichannel strategy that allows retailers to blend the online and in-store experience, engaging with customers and offering them a convenient way to shop.

This model doesn’t fit for online-only stores; BOPIS requires a physical storefront. Therefore, big e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon experiment with a similar model named BOPIL. At the same time, BOPIS is widely adopted by brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, Macy's, Chipotle, Kohl's, Best Buy, and many others.

In this article, we will figure out what BOPIS is, what its advantages and limitations are, and how BOPIL is different.


BOPIS (some call it BOPUS) stands for ‘buy online, pick up in-store.’ It is a Business model that allows consumers to shop online and then pick up their purchases in the store, often within the same day. 

BOPIS is considered a click-and-collect solution. The only difference is with click&collect, consumers can choose between BOPIS and so-called curbside pick (store associate brings the order out to the consumer’s vehicle while he’s waiting in the parking lot). Some retailers, like Walmart, for example, offer both of those options.

How Does BOPIS Work

BOPIS Process on the Consumer’s Side

  • Сonsumer adds items to the cart online, 
  • selects in-store pickup (if the retailer has more than one store), 
  • and completes the rest of the checkout process normally. 
  • The consumer gets a notification when the order is ready for pickup. 
  • Pickup is available at the store during its business hours.

BOPIS Process on the Retailer’s Side

  • The store’s website must list all the available products people can purchase online. 
  • Also, retailers must ensure that the website and physical store's inventory are integrated. 
  • The retailer receives the order. Now,
  • If the items are available at a local store and a customer wants to pick up the order at that location, a store associate receives the order, retrieves the items, and prepares for pickup. The delivery, in that case usually available the same day.
  • If not in stock at that particular store, the customer can wait a few days until their order is ready for pickup or select the other store, where the items are in stock, for pick up.

BOPIS Benefits

Why Consumers Want BOPIS

  • Convenience. Online shoppers no longer have to wait for days for delivery. If they need an item immediately, they can pick it up in-store within hours after purchase. 
  • Saving. BOPIS model doesn’t have shipping costs associated with it. Even when the customer sends someone to pick up the order in the store, with BOPIS, it frequently remains more economical than opting for retailer delivery.
  • Flexibility. The BOPIS model offers a choice to the consumer. And having choices is what today’s consumers demand.
  • Security. Customers know that their items will be safe and sound and in stock when they come to the store. In the case of door-to-door delivery, packages can be stolen right off a customer’s doorstep. 

How BOPIS is Beneficial for Retail

  • Cost-effectiveness in terms of Delivery. Last-mile shipping costs retailers. BOPIS significantly reduces them because items are shipped directly to a store for pickup. No need to roll them from fulfillment to the store and from the store for the direct address. Thus, retailers can offer better prices to their customers to compete with online-only retailers. 
  • Upgraded Inventory Management. Before BOPIS, retailers utilized distinct inventory systems: one for fulfillment and distribution centers and another for store stock. Online orders were typically fulfilled from distribution centers, while in-store purchases relied on the availability of products directly from the shelves within the stores. With BOPIS these two inventory silos merged, giving retailers a better way to manage their inventory. This approach is beneficial both for online and in-store sales.
  • Increased Retail Store Traffic. A pleasant side effect of BOPIS is that it naturally brings the customers to the store, increasing foot traffic and sales, as a result.
  • Increased Average Check. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), most shoppers who purchase using the BOPIS model add products to their carts.

What are the Downsides of BOPIS

Meanwhile, BOPIS has some limitations. 

  • BOPIS requires significant labor involvement: stores have to provide training and assign specific staff members to handle the fulfillment of orders for in-store pick-up.
  • Often, BOPIS orders must be picked up at a customer service desk at the store, where returns are also being processed. This can lead to queues, eliminating a significant part of BOPIS's attractiveness to customers.
  • As mentioned above, not every retailer can offer in-store pickup. BOPIS is unavailable for online-only retailers because they don’t have a physical storefront.

Those issues led to the emergence of alternatives, and BOPIL is one of them. 

What is BOPIL and How is it Different from BOPIS

BOPIL (Buy Online, Pick-up in Locker) is basically the same as BOPIS, but with parcel lockers instead of physical stores.

BOPIL utilizes all the benefits of BOPIS but with additional value. 

  • First, BOPIL is available not only for retailers with physical stores, but for online-only stores as well. 
  • Second, it removes the necessity for individuals picking up orders to queue at the customer service desk, all while maintaining the same level of security and providing an even higher level of convenience. 
  • Moreover, BOPIL enables retailers to further optimize their staffing, granting store associates additional time to dedicate to delivering exceptional customer service.

One of the biggest companies that adopted BOPIL was Amazon. The platform allows customers to purchase an item online and pick it up from an Amazon locker at a nearby retail location (such as Whole Foods or Kohl’s).

How BOPIL works

The process is almost the same as BOPIS with few nuances.

  1. The customer orders online through the website or mobile app.
  2. A store associate picks and packs the order. 
  3. Then delivers into the locker (in one trip, as many orders can be processed, as many cell are available in the locker).
  4. The customer is notified that the order is ready for pick-up.
  5. The customer comes to the locker and collects the order at a convenient time. 

Unlike service desks in the stores, the locker doesn’t require associate’s assistance in order for customer to pick up their orders. Thus, order pickup with BOPIL typically takes less than 30 seconds. Lockers also support contact-free returns, a process that also takes less than 30 seconds for a customer to complete.

While BOPIS has been increasingly popular over the past few years, expect to see more retailers offer BOPIL in the near future.

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