Why BOPIS & BORIS will be the cornerstone of retail in 2021

By Dean Frew, CTO and Senior VP of RFID Solutions, SML RFID

Customer shopping behaviours have continued to evolve throughout recent years, driven by technological advances, social and economic shifts, and consumers simply wanting more flexibility. As a result, retailers have had to keep up with those evolving needs as they try to outperform the competition; rolling out omnichannel and multichannel offerings have been key in enabling retailers to better serve their customers. However, if the past year has taught the retail industry one thing, it’s that having an effective omnichannel solution is no longer about giving retailers a competitive edge, it’s now a necessity to survive.

The Role of BOPIS and BORIS in the Retail Revolution

Buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) is revolutionising retail during its most testing period, consolidating a hybrid shopping experience where customers can buy items online before picking them up in a physical store. BOPIS and Buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) provide retailers with the optimal opportunity to have heightened control over the overall customer experience. However, if retailers have a limited view of inventory, both BOPIS and BORIS will fail to live up to their full potential.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a phenomenon never seen before in the supply chain – a total emptying of the product pipeline, before the restart of that substantial supply chain again months later. However, BOPIS and BORIS are increasingly seen as one of the most important strategies required to help repopulate these rapidly emptied pipelines and supply chains to fulfil customer demand. By taking advantage of item-level RFID technology and its ability to provide a significant increase in inventory accuracy (over 98%) for BOPIS, it can become a highly relied upon technology that helps to kickstart the retail sector.

RFID Solutions in its Prime

In its simplest form, RFID technology offers retailers the ability to gain full visibility of all stock across their entire estate, no matter where in the supply chain. RFID solutions allow retailers to experience an increased level of accuracy, showing exactly how much stock they have, what they are missing, where that stock currently is, what needs to be replenished, and what may be bloated inventory. What’s most impressive, though, is what the technology can do for BOPIS models.

By leveraging item-level RFID – and combining the technology with BOPIS and BORIS models – retailers can offer an increased level of convenience and safety to shoppers as they return to physical stores. By giving customers the option to purchase items from home before travelling to pick up items, customers can minimise contact with others, remain socially distanced and streamline the entire purchasing process. Customers are helped to feel safe in a more convenient transaction.

As the world continues to work towards the “new normal”, it is more important than ever for retailers to consider what the post-crisis landscape will become and prepare for ongoing changing customer habits.

Implementing retail technologies such as RFID enables BOPIS and BORIS models to allow retailers to track their stock levels and inventory accurately and efficiently across multiple platforms. In turn, this not only provides an increased opportunity for increased sales in the immediate future as we emerge from lockdown, but it also provides the potential for increased market share and more sustainable processes in the long term.

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