Interview with Nathan Smith
Smith is the senior vice president of product strategy at Appriss Retail and is responsible for delivering and supporting products for Appriss Retail’s clients. Smith launched his career in retail at Safeway in the UK. He worked for several high-profile retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Tesco, performing diverse roles across many areas of those businesses. Smith went on to cofound Sysrepublic (now part of Appriss Retail).
Retailers who have offered “buy online, pickup in store” (BOPIS) and “buy online, return in store” (BORIS) are looking for ways to continue to improve their customer experience through better processes. BOPIS and BORIS provide new opportunities for customer engagement in addition to driving sales. Retailers who are just venturing into these waters are wise to learn about new best practices.
What is the most important factor in implementing a BOPIS or BORIS program?
Customer satisfaction is the primary reason to even consider investing in or designing such a process. Retailers who are most successful consider the buyer’s journey and build in ways to make it easy for consumers to complete transactions safely and verifiably.
You say “safely and verifiably.” Why is that?
BOPIS and BORIS create new risk areas that loss prevention and asset protection can help mitigate. The designated pickup and return areas need to be well lit, secure, visible, and arranged in a way that consumers or staff can safely pick up or move merchandise to or from the consumer’s vehicle. You want to be sure that each order is claimed only by someone authorized to receive it, which means you need a simple and reliable way to connect the consumer to the order. You want to make returns of items purchased online seamless but not susceptible to abuse. The LP team can help your retail operations team manage these risks without adding “friction” for consumers.
Do BOPIS and BORIS contribute to shrink?
Every time a piece of merchandise is transferred through the store, it is at risk for theft, damage, or simply being misplaced. Procedures need to be in place to protect you from loss. BOPIS and BORIS may increase the volume of goods and in many cases the types of merchandise handled by the store. For instance, a store may receive via returns many more sizes and styles of shoes than they were ever shipped. Ensuring that the merchandise can be preserved in pristine state for reverse distribution, restocking, resale, or liquidation and precisely tracking the item’s location in the store will prevent unintentional loss.
What are some new ways to keep BORIS and BOPIS loss under control?
Using real-time information to predict and prevent fraudulent behavior is being adopted my more and more retailers; this technology can be used to protect both consumer and retailer from fraudulent behavior by monitoring and interrupting, where needed, the BORIS and BOPIS processes.
Retailers can take prevention one step further by using artificial intelligence to qualify direct channel consumers not only for purchases but also for returns. By vetting the consumer’s purchase and return habits before the purchase is made, the system can reduce wardrobing and similar serial-returner schemes. This is not a job for a simple, threshold-based rules system. Customer satisfaction depends on speed and flexibility; artificial intelligence affords retailers that latitude.
Another successful technique is to run exception reports on orders with missing items. Are there consumers who routinely scam the system by claiming items were missing? (This often happens with grocery orders, but it applies to other types of merchandise too.) Are some of your own pickers pocketing merchandise knowing it will be viewed as a mistake? LP analysts should create new queries to look for frauds within this unique ecosystem.
The central theme in these preventive steps is that they do not impact any consumers whose actions are honest. The only impact your shoppers feel is faster, friendlier service.