Retailing 134: Extending Your Website
With ‘buy online, pick up in store,’ you can hyper-differentiate your shop from other retailers.
By Jay Townley
When online retailing first emerged as a real competitor to brick-and-mortar specialty tennis shops, the reaction from shop owners was everything from anger aimed at brands that sold to online retailers to outright fear of online retailers.
What has emerged, however, is a reality of American consumers’ buying habits and their ever-evolving path to purchase that has allowed specialty tennis shops to effectively compete with online retailers by becoming multi-channel (also “omni-channel”). This has meant that specialty shops needed to develop their own websites and embrace them as major marketing, communication and media vehicles to expand their market space and retail reach so they would be available to their customers 24/7. Whether individual shops commerce-enabled their website is an option that each owner has to determine in the best interest of their business.
That said, we’ve become convinced that the typical specialty tennis shop has to have an up-to-date and commerce-enabled website to meet and beat online competitors, and more importantly keep up with the evolving consumer path to purchase, which is not static or single-channel focused, but dynamic and multi-channel.
Now, research has found “BOPIS,” or “buy online, pickup in store.” This isn’t a new invention — it has been and still is a feature of outdoor retailer REI. But what is new is BOPIS becoming the next evolutionary step in the consumers’ path to purchase — and one that brings with it a major advantage for brick-and-mortar specialty stores.
As every specialty tennis shop owner and manager knows, the secret ingredient to meeting and beating online retailers and all other forms of retail competition is differentiation — making your specialty tennis shop stand out as different and offering a better and more enjoyable shopping experience from every other retailer. To continue to differentiate your business from all competitors, including online retailers, you should embrace BOPIS and extend your website customer service to include buying online and picking up in store.
For shops that already have commerce-enabled websites, this added feature will mean only minor changes. For others, it may require changes to both their websites and their inventory management, including adding an in-store fulfillment function. Conversion remains the same for those shops that already have commerce-enabled websites, and the payment transaction is completed online.
Your website will have to include an option for “pick-up at store,” including what day and approximately what time, and we also suggest the means for contacting customers by email or phone when their purchase is ready to be picked up.
There are multiple advantages for specialty shops in adopting BOPIS, including immediate online conversion and the customer satisfaction that is attached. Buying online and picking up in your store also may save the customer the time and expense of waiting for an online retailer to ship a product. Also, of course, BOPIS brings customers into your store, creating foot traffic and, importantly, an opportunity to add on other sales.
Your staff needs to be educated about BOPIS and what it means to your tennis shop beyond a customer simply walking in to pick up a purchase made on your website. If BOPIS customers have to walk through your store to the rear of the shop to pick up merchandise, they’ll walk past your displays and sale and featured items. Make sure your staff is trained so that they always mention sale and featured items, and other services your store offers such as stringing and racquet customization, when customers come in to pick up merchandise.
This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).
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