Is In-Store Pickup Any Faster Than Just Shopping At The Store?

For years, an increasing number of retailers have been pushing their “buy online, pickup in store” (BOPIS, for all you acronym lovers) option as a expedient option that offers the convenience of online shopping without the hassle of having to search the aisles. But is it really any faster than traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping?

The folks at StellaService recently put this idea to the test at 11 of the country’s biggest retailers offering BOPIS — Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Sears, Staples, Target, Toys ‘R Us, and Walmart.

At each location, shoppers made a BOPIS purchase and bought the same item in the traditional manner.

In terms of the amount of time spent in the store, BOPIS did seem to speed things up a bit, with the average BOPIS shopper only needing 5.4 minutes to reach the cashier, compared to 7 minutes for standard shopping.

Office Depot was the most expedient BOPIS retailer, with shoppers only needing 2 minutes. The fastest traditional shopping was at Target, where shoppers were in and out in 3.5 minutes.

On the other end of the spectrum is Home Depot and Macy’s. Each clocked in at 8.5 minutes for a BOPIS purchase. At these retailers and at Nordstrom, traditional shoppers were actually out the door faster.

The slowest time in the entire survey was Sears, where it took more than 16 minutes for the traditional shoppers to check out.

But the in-store pickup aspect is only part of the process. When you factor in the wait time for BOPIS customers to receive confirmations that their order was ready, a more complicated picture arises.

The average wait time for a confirmation was just over an hour, reports StellaStervice, with Macy’s and Sears each taking at least 140 minutes to let BOPIS shoppers know they could do the PIS part of their transaction. In such cases, most people could easily have driven to the store and done their shopping faster.

But then there were stores like Best Buy and Lowe’s that only needed 10 minutes to confirm a purchase was ready to be picked up. That’s fast enough for customers to place an order, hop in their car and have it be ready when they arrive at the store. Others like Home Depot (25 mins.), Staples (28 mins.), and Toys ‘R Us (30 mins.) might be okay for those with longer drive-times to the store.

Of all the stores in the survey, only Home Depot allowed customers to schedule their pickup time.

Okay, so you have an idea how far ahead in advance you need to order, and how long it will take you to get through the store. But what about actually finding the in-store pickup counter?

Several retailers — Best Buy, Target, Lowe’s among them — had specific counters visible from the entrance for in-store pickup.

And while it might take longer than traditional shoppers for a Nordstrom BOPIS customer to get in and out, that’s probably because the department store lets customers do in-store pickup at any counter. That’s convenient — not having to search a massive, multi-floor store for customer service — but it also means you’ll have to wait for the item to be delivered to wherever you are.

Finally, things can get complicated when you’re finalizing that BOPIS purchase. Shoppers who placed their orders online ended up spending the majority of their time (3.1 minutes) at the store at the cashier. However, it only took about 1 minute for standard shoppers to pay.

What isn’t in doubt about BOPIS is that it offers the one thing that traditional shopping doesn’t — some assurance that the item you ordered will be there when you get to the store. Granted, we’ve heard numerous stories of retailers botching in-store pickups and customers finding out too late than an item is out of stock, but in general the process works as planned.

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  1. webalias says:

    One other sad fact about ordering online for in-store pickup is that if you later need to later return the item, the employee at the returns counter may have no idea how to handle the matter. If it was ordered online, it may be considered an “internet purchase.” And while clerks at places like Home Depot may be aware that their store has a web site and that purchases can be returned to any retail store, they may well have no idea how to make that happen. There’s a good chance they’ll need to call a supervisor while you stand in line waiting and wondering why you just didn’t go with Amazon.

  2. KJaxx says:

    I have no idea if it’s faster, but “BOPIS” sure can be cheaper. A couple of years back, I was in the market for an iPod (before I just broke down and bought an iPhone to serve as my music source) and went to a Best Buy. I had done research online but didn’t want to wait a few days for delivery, so I went to a store to purchase it. At the store there was as significant difference between the online price. I tried to get the store to price match their own online price, but was refused. So I called my then husband and had him order it online for pickup. Wasted time? Yes. Saved money? Yes.

  3. HESpencer says:

    At the Sears closest to me, they have a separate entrance for pick-ups, so I don’t even have to go into the sad store. I’m not sure if it’s faster, but the less interaction with the salespeople, the better.