How Curbside, BOPIS, and BOPA are Changing the Customer Experience

on Jun 12, 2024

Stores have been offering various ways to shop for years. Still, alternative methods like curbside pickup, buy online pickup in-store, and others saw a huge spike in popularity due to early lockdown measures at the beginning of the decade. 

These can be grouped under a pickup concept known as Click and Collect.

Like other effects of the pandemic, such as remote work, these options have proved to have more staying power than initially predicted. 

Consumers have demonstrated that they appreciate experiences bridging the gap between in-store and online shopping by combining the convenience of remote ordering without the wait. Thirty-two percent of US online shoppers ordered their most recent purchases for in-store or curbside pickup in 2022, up 37% from 2021.

However, despite widespread support for the idea, ubiquitous adoption has been surprisingly slow, and customers feel the lack of options. 

For instance, 72% of US consumers said they were now more likely to buy online and collect in-store, but across all retailers, curbside pickup options fell from 34% in 2021 to 25% in 2022.


Well, there’s currently a fair amount of confusion surrounding the service, including how to logistically manage it

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the major Click and Collect methods, including curbside pickup, buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS), and other options that fall under the umbrella of buy online pickup anywhere (BOPA). We’ll also explain why you should consider it for your stores and how to avoid any challenges that may arise.

Before diving in, let’s clarify some definitions since we’ll use these acronyms throughout.

What is Click and Collect?

Click and Collect preference has increased among consumers and retail brands in recent years and shows no signs of leaving. Click and Collect refers to placing an order online, and then picking it up at a physical location rather than opting for delivery or shipping.

How does Click and Collect work?

Click and Collect orders come in various forms but we’ll cover three major ones in this guide.

Curbside Pickup

Curbside pickup refers to ordering online and driving to the store, where an associate brings your purchase to your car. This form of click-and-collect orders doubled during the pandemic years but has since started to plateau. It's a time-effective solution that combines the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of physical retail.

Many stores, including Home Depot, Target, Ikea, and Petco, offer this fulfillment option. 

Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS)

The most widely used Click and Collect options are buy online, pick up in-store, or BOPIS. 

This usually applies to same-day pickup since the item is in stock and thus doesn’t take long to prepare for pickup.

However, customers can pick up their order on a day other than the order date. The store holds the items for a specified period before returning them to stock and canceling the order. 

Brands offering BOPIS include Macy’s, Office Depot, Foot Locker, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Body Shop, Lowes, and World Market. Other forms that fall under this category include BOSS (Buy Online Ship to Store) and ROPIS (Reserve Online Pickup In-Store).

BOPA (Buy Online, Pick up Anywhere) 

BOPA takes the BOPIS concept further by allowing customers to pick up their online purchases at a location other than the retail store. This could be a designated pickup point, a locker, or a business. The aim is to provide maximum convenience and flexibility for the customer, catering to their preferences and schedules.

Curbside Pickup: Offering more options your customers want

For starters, curbside pickup is among the more popular options among millennials. Research backs this up: Two-thirds of the generation reported curbside pickup as their favorite method for online orders. This might be surprising, as the prevailing narrative surrounding remote shoppers generally indicates that shipping would be more popular. However, the fact remains that in 2023, 47.5% of the top 500 retail chains are offering curbside pickup services. So, what’s all the fuss about?

Curbside delivery is filling a service gap for customers who want the convenience of mobile ordering and the immediacy of in-store shopping.

(Image Source)

Curbside pickup has staff bring the order directly to the customer’s vehicle or have a designated meeting point outside the store. A mobile pickup tent or table outside the storefront bridges the gap between the store and the staff responsible for “delivering” these packages to the customer.

Orchestrating a viable system for delivering mobile orders directly to customers’ cars takes greater planning, resources, and space than one might think. 

While larger retailers may have the staffing and space to manage a curbside delivery option, other businesses will find establishing a designated pickup area outside their location or implementing in-store pickup more viable. Still, we’ll get to those methods a little bit later. 

How to optimize your curbside pickup experience

At face value, the curbside pickup process seems relatively simple but looks can be deceiving. Effectively implementing this customer experience requires a robust backend system to manage the logistics. 

To truly understand curbside pickup operations, let’s examine a step-by-step guide of how the order process often works:

  1. When making a mobile order, the customer will be offered a curbside pickup option and provided with details on the pickup location, hours, and any other relevant details.
  2. The applicable location staff will then receive a notification and prepare the order accordingly. To manage this operation at scale, this process must be highly organized, so packaging and labeling should be standardized.
  3. The customer will be notified when their order is ready for pickup. With the right software, staff can track the customer’s location to ensure that the order is ready for their arrival.
  4. When the customer arrives, they'll notify staff via their mobile device and the order will be brought to their car or waiting at a designated pickup location.
  5. Delivery of the order can then be confirmed, and the customer has the option to leave feedback on their experience, allowing the company to optimize the process through analytics.

Challenges with curbside pickup

The allure of curbside pickup lies in its promise of convenience and immediacy for customers. However, meeting expectations can also present several challenges for businesses. Delays and hiccups not only impact customer satisfaction but can also affect your brand's reputation.

Timing is Everything 

For restaurants and food establishments, curbside pickup timing is critical. Customers expect their food to be fresh and hot when they pick it up. According to a 2022 report on the restaurant industry, 1 in 3 consumers become frustrated after waiting for just 4 minutes or less for mobile pickups. Furthermore, 22% of customers expect a wait time of under 2 minutes. This level of precision requires advanced technical integrations that can track and communicate with customers efficiently.

Inventory Management 

Retailers often need help with maintaining accurate inventory levels. This is a difficult challenge to overcome and can have a hugely negative impact on brand and reputation. If a product is listed as available online, but is out of stock when the customer arrives for pickup, it will lead to frustration and potential loss of business in the immediate term and in the future. Investing in robust inventory management software will be the best way to keep track of stock levels and update online platforms in real time.

Staff Training 

Like any other retail store role, employees must be properly trained to handle curbside pickup orders. They must understand how to use the necessary technology, manage order fulfillment, and provide excellent customer service. After all, they will be the single point of contact your customers have. Ensure your team is well-versed with the pickup process and can handle any issues that may arise. Regular training sessions and performance reviews can help maintain high service standards.

Security Concerns

With curbside pickup, there's an increased risk of theft and fraud. Businesses must implement measures to verify customer identity and ensure the right products are delivered to the right vehicles. Implement verification processes, such as requiring customers to show identification or confirmation emails before handing over the order.

To Curbside or Not to Curbside?

There are clear logistical challenges to offering curbside, but businesses shouldn’t shy away—It’s simply too popular an option with customers. Instead, view these obstacles as an opportunity to improve their operations and enhance the customer experience. 

While some of these issues involve people and processes, the right platform can help businesses navigate these challenges effectively. Advanced systems can streamline order processing, track customer locations, manage inventory, and facilitate secure pickups. Hence, investing in a comprehensive curbside pickup solution could enhance operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Unpacking the Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) Trend

Curbside isn’t the only game in town when it comes to alternative ways for your customers to shop. BOPIS - Buy Online, Pickup In-Store - is another option that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and the momentum isn’t dying down. Market predictions state that by 2025, BOPIS will fulfill 10% of all sales in the US.

Like curbside, BOPIS combines the ease of online shopping and the immediacy of in-store pickup, creating a seamless omnichannel retail experience. Customers like to see products before they bring them home.

But what sets it apart? Additional sales. 75% of customers report that even after they’ve made their original, intended purchase, they’re likely to buy additional products. 49% of customers do, whether they intend to or not.

Unique challenges with BOPIS

BOPIS shares some of the same challenges of curbside (security and inventory) but also has unique issues that must be accounted for.

Store Layout and Signage

Unlike curbside pickup, where there is typically a designated area for customers to pull up their cars and collect their orders, BOPIS requires customers to navigate the store. If your store layout is confusing or there is no clear signage, this can lead to customer frustration or overcrowding as customers aren’t sure where to go. 

Furthermore, while in-store pickup can potentially lead to additional sales, it can also cause distractions and stress for customers in a hurry. Addressing these issues requires careful planning within the store to ensure it is always clear to customers where they should pick up online orders.

In-Store Wait Times 

Curbside customers are less likely to compete with other, “traditional” shoppers. With BOPIS, customers may face longer wait times if the store is busy or understaffed. During peak hours, customers picking up their online orders might have to queue behind regular shoppers, which can be inconvenient and time-consuming. This leads us to our last point.

Increased Demand on Store Staff

BOPIS places more demand on store staff as they must juggle serving in-store customers and fulfilling online orders for pickup. Should there be a staffing shortage, BOPIS can burden management and employees as they determine where their needs are best met.

Implementing a Successful BOPIS Strategy

In addition to streamlining inventory management and proper staff training, BOPIS requires a few additional changes to make this strategy successful.

Enhance Digital Experience

Encouraging customers to use BOPIS means making the experience as easy as shopping in-store. This means investing in a streamlined website or app to make this process as close to browsing through aisles. Things to pay attention to include a user-friendly interface, offering real-time inventory visibility, and sending timely notifications about order status. Furthermore, passing this information can be done both ways. The app can send information to your staff when the customer is within a certain distance from the store to ensure their order is packed and ready to go.

Understand Customer Behavior

If you’ve taken the step to improve your understanding of your in-store and online inventory, use this information to better understand your customers. That way, you can tailor your BOPIS service to meet their needs and preferences to boost revenue. For instance, if certain products are popular for BOPIS, consider placing them near the pickup area to encourage additional purchases.

Reduce Wait Times

Nobody likes long wait times. Investing in an app can allow you to implement live customer ETAs that alert store associates when a customer is on the way for pickup. Moreover, consider setting up dedicated pickup counters to expedite the process and separate customers who are making online orders versus in-store purchases.

The Newest Trend on the Block: BOPA

For some buyers, BOPIS and curbside pickup are great. But what about being able to pick up their purchases from any location that suits them? This is the idea behind BOPA.

For example, a customer may place an order and want to save on delivery. Instead of driving to the store, they may choose to pick it up from a carrier or other third-party location close to their workplace.

Alternatively, someone may want to buy something online to take on a trip and would rather collect it from a locker near their destination than try to pack it in their suitcase.

There are a few different ways this might look.

Self-service Locker/Kiosk Pickup

For this fulfillment option, you order online and then receive an email when your purchase is at one of the store's pickup lockers or kiosks. These containers are situated within local businesses throughout the city. 

Amazon has pickup lockers in thousands of locations. They will give you three days after receiving your email notification to pick up your order from your specified locker. After three days, your order is returned for a full refund. You can access the lockers via Amazon’s phone app. 

Collection Points

Collection points are pickup locations that are outside of the brand store. Urban Outfitters offers collection point pickup at thousands of secure locations across the US. Best Buy offers collection point pickup for larger appliances at a local warehouse. Amazon Hub allows retailers to partner with Amazon and use their lockers as collection points. 

4 Aspects of your Store to Focus on while implementing Click and Collect Methods

Each method of customer experience differs in the challenges a business might encounter. However, they have some things in common.

Store layout

  • Space to set up an indoor or outdoor pickup area
  • Straightforward navigation so customers know exactly where to pick up their purchase without confusion or frustration
  • Quick and efficient pickup process that helps avoid creating a traffic jam

Inventory management

  • Packing and maintaining orders in-store or in-warehouse
  • Updating inventory information in real-time on the ordering interface
  • Ensuring quality control


Maintaining visibility and communication between online shoppers and fulfillment staff regarding: 

  • Product availability
  • Pickup times
  • Pickup location
  • Any issues with the order

Customer questions and concerns

Addressing questions and concerns while customers are ordering, ensuring no issues at pickup or after returning home.

Perfect your Click and Collect process with Delivery Solutions

Click and Collect has gone from a life raft for many businesses during the pandemic to a core e-commerce fulfillment option. Brands looking to stay competitive should consider adding it to their last-mile strategy if they haven’t already. 

If you’re asking:

  • What can these options look like for your business?
  • How would it benefit your business and customers?
  • How can you set it up and implement it effectively?

Use the steps above to create a game plan for incorporating this e-commerce fulfillment method into your strategy. 

To learn how Delivery Solutions can help you execute and streamline your Click and Collect strategy, schedule a demo today! 

Delivery Solutions' suite of omnichannel experience products for everything after the sale helps enterprise retailers scale with flexible options that boost savings and brand loyalty. Learn more by scheduling a demo. 

About the author

Ryan Caldarone

Ryan is a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager with over ten years of experience in B2B eCommerce, specializing in brand storytelling and content. Having contributed to hundreds of creative projects for SMBs and startups across the tech, energy, and fine arts sectors, Ryan brings diverse perspectives.


Topics from this blog: Curbside Improvement Bopis Retail Management Bopa

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