BOPIS is Broken: Here’s Why


Logistics innovations

Buy online, pick up in-store,’ known colloquially as BOPIS, allows consumers to do their shopping at home and collect items from a brick-and-mortar store. While the offering emerged several years ago, BOPIS exploded into popularity at the onset of the pandemic. However, the customer experience remains available – and popular – even as the pandemic recedes.

From a customer’s perspective, BOPIS represents an elevated convenience. Routine errands such as shopping at the grocery store can take a long time to complete, especially during peak hours. BOPIS allows customers to shop when they have the availability. Then, all they need to do is swing by the store to collect their items. Additionally, for those still uncomfortable in large, crowded places, BOPIS provides a safe shopping alternative.

What is BOPIS

Online shopping during the first several months of the pandemic, particularly in the grocery industry,  increased by 300%. While these “click and collect” services were available before 2020, the pandemic expedited the switch to online shopping. With delivery services experiencing significant delays and labor shortages, picking up an online shopping order at the store became the most convenient option. BOPIS has become so popular that first-time home buyers noted its importance in selecting a property. And 50% of Americans decide where to shop online based on whether they can pick up their items inside a store.

According to a McKinsey & Company report, of the people who tried BOPIS for the first time in 2020, 60% intend to continue using the service. To that end, 15% of all customers began using BOPIS more, and 9% began using it for the first time. These figures point to the ongoing popularity of this customer experience.

Why is BOPIS Broken?

While BOPIS is often convenient from the customer’s perspective, it can be highly challenging for the retailer. BOPIS requires additional staff to collect items and man a counter in an already tight labor market.

Additionally, BOPIS requires technical infrastructure and inventory management that most retailers are not equipped to support. Merging online and in-store experiences may be feasible for a small boutique, but it requires much more thought for larger operations, like pharmacies and grocers. Additionally, in-person inventory must match the availability displayed online. This will typically require complex category management software, which many stores don’t have the funds to purchase.

While BOPIS can seem like a convenient choice for the customer, this is not always the case. Unlike other forms of eCommerce, the customer’s items are only available during in-store shopping hours. It can be difficult for customers to locate the BOPIS counter in a large store, and long lines are common with the increasing demand for convenient shopping options. Customers turn to BOPIS to save time, but in some cases, the process takes longer than shopping inside the store.

Smart Lockers Offer a Solution

BOPIS is here to stay. The appeal for consumers means retailers must pivot to create a more economical experience – for both the customer and staff. Smart lockers represent an excellent opportunity to streamline BOPIS operations.

  • No Lines: Instead of waiting in line for their items, customers can quickly pick up their purchases and continue on their way.
  • Easy to Locate: BOPIS counters are often tucked into the back corner of a store. By contrast, Smart Lockers can be situated just outside the store or in an easy-to-reach section of the parking lot.
  • Simple Returns: Returning BOPIS items is a logistical nightmare for most retailers. Smart lockers provide a simple solution.
  • No Staff Needed: Smart locker installation eliminates the need to staff a BOPIS counter inside the store. This allows time schedules to be smoothed out throughout the day.
  • Safe and Secure: Even without a staff member present, Smart Lockers remain secure at all times.
  • Convenient Pick-Up: Rather than picking up items during open store hours, customers now have the option to grab their items at any time with 24/7 locker accessibility.

Photo of woman shopping on her smart phone

Smart Lockers provide the ultimate in BOPIS convenience

Shifting from a BOPIS model to BOPIL (buy-online-pickup-in-locker) significantly increases customer convenience while lowering retailer overhead. Additionally, Smart Lockers can be leveraged to drive new revenue streams such as communal exchanges, advertising, and courier pickup/drop-off points for their customers.

The capabilities of Smart Lockers are just now making the rounds in conference rooms of major retailers. Those who make a successful transition with a Smart Locker partner will help solidify their positions as market leaders in their respective verticals.

To learn more about how your organization can maximize smart lockers to reduce cost, increase revenue, and delight your customers, contact the ParcelPort team online by visiting, email at or calling 1-800-818-0870.