Are retailers over-promising last-minute BOPIS?
By all indications, Walmart may have launched the first holiday ad dedicated to BOPIS (buy online, in-store pickup).
Set to the eighties classic song from Simple Minds, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the television commercial, “Walmart Holiday Shopping: The Moment,” shows a series of individuals during holiday time panicking after suddenly realizing they had forgotten to buy a present for a loved one.
“Get great gifts last minute,” the copy on the ad reads. That’s followed by “Order online, 6 p.m. December 23rd. Free pickup on Christmas Eve.”
In announcing its holiday plans in late October, Walmart said it receives up to five times as many same-day pickup orders during the period as in a normal week. For the current season, Walmart expanded the assortment available for pickup and is allocating additional pickup staff, including dedicated managers in every store for the first time.
A few competitors are even more aggressively promising last-minute pickups. Best Buy is offering in-store pickup for any orders placed by 4 p.m. on December 24. Bed, Bath & Beyond’s deadline is 2:00 p.m. and Macy’s is noon on December 24. But Kohl’s cut-off BOPIS date is December 23rd, and many stores, including Target, Toys”R”Us and J.C. Penney, aren’t prominently promoting the service on their home page.
An eMarketer article from early December noted that retail in general struggled with BOPIS during last year’s holiday selling season as many tried it for the first time. eMarketer retail analyst Yory Wurmser noted that the basics, such as communications, may be better handled this year; inherent structural problems will likely take longer to resolve.
“For one thing, the physical space for pickup zones needs to be prioritized and put in a prominent, easy-to-access place,” he said. “Second, the inventory systems need to be updated for order tracking and customer fulfillment. The systems are out there, but a lot of retailers are moving more slowly in implementing them than they should.”
- Walmart Holiday Shopping: The Moment – YouTube
- Will Retailers Trip on In-Store Pick-Up This Christmas? – emarketer
- Walmart Unveils Holiday Plans: Invests in Pickup, Introduces Holiday Helpers – Walmart press release
- Buy Online Pickup In-Store – Macy’s
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are retailers prepared to make good on this year’s aggressive promises for last-minute holiday in-store pickup? Do you see in-store execution, communication, inventory visibility or some other factor as the weakest link?