The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way consumers shop. You used to walk into a store, look around, pick out some items, wait for a cashier, and head along on your merry way. Now, the idea of shopping in stores is a lot more daunting and cumbersome. You need to bust out a mask, wait in line to get in depending on capacity limits, and then do your best to select the items you need -- all the while taking care not to inch too close to your fellow shoppers who may or may not be harboring a dangerous virus. Talk about stressful.
Thankfully, retailers have adapted to these changing times via a nifty system called BOPIS. And it could be just the thing that saves more of them from closing permanently.
What is BOPIS?
BOPIS is short for buy online, pick up in store. It's a great way for consumers to get the goods they need without the hassle and limitations that sometimes come with online orders.
RIght now, many consumers are scared to shop in stores or malls, and those who may not be particularly nervous may instead feel like the experience just isn't pleasant. But online shopping has its drawbacks. Sometimes, it means paying a premium for shipping, not to mention having to wait for those goods to arrive. Returns can also be a hassle when shopping online, depending on the retailer or site in question.
BOPIS, however, solves for these problems by allowing consumers to place online orders and retrieve them from local stores without having to incur added shopping costs. And when used in reverse, this model makes returning items easier as well.
At the same time, BOPIS requires minimal contact in stores. Consumers can pick up their purchases curbside or in a dedicated area to minimize time spent indoors and interaction with other shoppers.
Why retailers need BOPIS
Dozens of popular retailers have filed for bankruptcy in the course of 2020, and many are either already shutting down stores permanently or making plans to do so. Those who haven't yet succumbed to this fate may be desperate for revenue, especially to compensate for forced temporary store closures earlier this year. With BOPIS, retailers can continue to offer customers the perks of in-person shopping without the hazards of entering stores during a pandemic.
BOPIS is good news for real estate investors, too. If retailers continue to adopt this system and can avoid store closures as a result, the oft-talked about impending mall and shopping center vacancy crisis may not actually happen -- or at least not to such an extreme degree.
Right now, mall REIT (real estate investment trust) investors risk serious losses if store closures continue at a rapid clip. And given that the pandemic isn't over, a number of retailers could be in for a devastating holiday season that digs them into the ground sooner rather than later. By making it as easy as possible for consumers to purchase and receive goods, retailers are throwing themselves a lifeline -- and it may be enough to sustain them until the pandemic wraps up and the idea of walking into a store no longer induces panic in a large chunk of the population.