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BOPIS, Fueled by the Pandemic, Has Permanently Changed Retail

If any retailers were still in denial about the shift toward e-commerce, the coronavirus pandemic took care of that in dramatically swift fashion.

At the end of Q2 2019, e-commerce represented 10.8% of US retail spend. In Q2 2020, amid the height of pandemic lockdowns, e-commerce spending surged 44.5% — its biggest quarterly growth in 20 years.

As of Q3, e-commerce is now nearly 20% of all US retail spending, according to Digital Commerce 360.

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The surge has been driven not just by Americans staying at home but also retailers ramping up their BOPIS options (buy online, pick up in store). BOPIS encompasses curbside pickup and also “ship from store,” a relatively new option that gets items to you faster by shipping from your nearest store rather than from a warehouse. Amid the pandemic, many stores that were closed to in-person shoppers still had employees inside, packaging and shipping orders from the store.

Big brick-and-mortar chains like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Urban Outfitters, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have all cited BOPIS as a game-changer on recent earnings calls—and they don’t expect the trend to slow after the pandemic.

Dick’s launched curbside pickup early in the pandemic and said 75% of its online orders in Q2 were fulfilled by stores (shipped to the customer from their nearest store, or picked up curbside). In Q3, even after Dick’s reopened stores, curbside kept growing.

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“We anticipated originally that we would see a large drop-off when the stores reopened, but that is not the case,” Dick’s president Lauren Hobart noted on the company’s Q2 earnings call. (Hobart will be the next CEO of Dick’s, effective February 1, the company announced this week.) Dick’s CEO Ed Stack added: “It started off as a safety piece… It’s now becoming a convenience piece.”

Walmart CEO Doug McMillion expressed similar conviction on Walmart’s Q3 earnings call: “Our e-commerce and omni-channel penetration continue to rise, accelerating trends by two to three years in some cases. We’re convinced that most of the behavior change will persist beyond the pandemic…”    Yahoo! Finance

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