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Will This Season’s Increase in BOPIS Orders Be the Catalyst for Mass Retail Adoption?

The Breakdown: This year’s shortened holiday shopping season started out with record breaking bang for e-commerce, with BOPIS orders seeing a major uptick compared to figures from 2018.

Adobe Analytics revealed this year’s digital Black Friday sales reached $7.4 billion while holiday shoppers doled out a whopping $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday — that translates to roughly 20% more than last year’s $7.9 billion, meaning this year’s Cyber Monday was the largest online-shopping day in U.S. history.

Most notably, many shoppers decided to ditch the delivery process for pick up this year, driving a 43% increase in BOPIS orders from omni-channel retailers like Walmart, Target and Nordstrom. 

Q: Will this season’s increase in BOPIS orders be the catalyst for mass retail adoption?



The Weigh In: Bob Phibbs and Mike Wittenstein 

Mike Wittenstein: Absolutely. It was promoted through some of the apps and people would drive to the parking lot, press the button and wait for somebody to bring out their order with their kids in the back seats. I actually saw that and then [the customer] moved onto the next thing. They had a successful first experience in many cases. I’m sure there were some failures as well, but [for the people who had a good experience] they pack that away in the back of their head and think, “You know, I could do that again.”

And it’s frictionless. It takes less time. For most customers, it’s a really good option. And I do agree that yeah, we’re going to see more people incorporating these new ways of purchasing. In my opinion, from over the years and years that I’ve been looking at retail and customer experience, the more channels that you can communicate with your customer and usually the more loyal they are and the more value you are to them. But I bet Bob disagrees.


Bob Phibbs: Well, since you said it Mike, look, I get it. Mission shoppers, this is their time. If you’re an analytical personality who has been obsessively watching, you’re going to buy some 60 inch TV that you were able to order online and pick up — I get it. But that misses the big point, which is retail was always about discovery. And only 10% of your shoppers are in that “mission shopper” mindset. But 60% just know they want something new — they’re in awareness stage while 30% are in comparison. “Do I want the black? Do I want the white? Do I want the medium? Do I take the large? Do I want plaid,” et cetera. I’ve got to go in and check that out. But this idea that everybody knows what they want is, I’m sorry, bullshit.


Mike Wittenstein: I want to add one more thing to this notion of losing the retail, if you will. The way I would look at this Black Friday Cyber Monday thing is, it’s kind of like the world’s biggest beta test. My opinion is if you’ve got something new to try, you know you should test it a little bit, but roll it out and make a splash. Do something new, something a little bit different, and see if people will adopt it. And most importantly, see what you can learn from your customers.


Mike Wittenstein: This year for me was the tipping point where now I think we have more personas than we have shoppers. Individuals have multiple personas as they go through the day. […] I think it’s important for retailers to remember that the customer is really in control. We used to be able to manipulate them and a lot of retailers did that with their marketing, services and returns. […] I think that’s eroding a little bit. We can’t do that anymore. So the customer really is in control and retailers should use this time to beta test new ideas at scale and see how fast they can move in the customer’s direction.


Bob Phibbs: So was the customer in control when it was Gap giving 60% off its stuff at 8:00 AM? I don’t think so, Mike. I think the retailer is in desperation mode and they’re begging people to take this crap out of here because they have no idea how to sell it. Please take this marginal average looking stuff that you didn’t want before because we got more stuff coming in the back. I think that’s the bigger issue. I think this whole idea — and don’t get me wrong, I think that the customer is in charge — but I think that that makes for great PR.

And yes, I’ve seen Target at work with the drive up and pick up and I get that for a busy grocery shopper. And I understand that a mom with four kids would want that. But the reality is, when it’s delivered to a trunk, you lose all the ability to upsell and say, “You know, this is a good model, but may we might have a better one.”


Bob Phibbs: You’ve lost all of those things that makes the brick-and-mortar retail so valuable. And let’s face it, it’s a niche of a niche, of a niche, of a niche. There’s not that many people driving to have stuff delivered to the trunk.


Mike Wittenstein: I agree with you but I think that retailers aren’t doing enough to really understand their customers as a unit of one because each customer’s unique. They want to be transformed, as you said before, they’re looking for great value. They’re looking for convenience, whatever it is that they’re looking for, they should be inserting the words that matter most to them. So it’s really, in my opinion, about how flexible and adaptive the retailers and their systems can be over time.


Part of this conversation first appeared on the Dec. 2 episode of the Retail Rundown. Follow this link to listen to the full episode.