Have you tried Walmart's BOPIS? We did!

Over the past few years, brands have been trying to find new ways to compete with and stay ahead of Amazon. Recently, Walmart has looked to BOPIS (Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store) as a means to differentiate itself in the industry and to bring customers into their stores. But does the experience actually work? Is it convenient? Frictionless? Most importantly, does it save time? To find out, we went and tested Walmart BOPIS experience ourselves.

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Great news – Your Order is Here.

I admit, I’m not a regular Walmart shopper. Initially, I looked to Amazon for a new cooler with wheels.  It’s where I look for most everything first these days. But at over $50, I thought ‘let’s check Walmart.’ And there it was, they had the exact same cooler on sale for nearly 50% off. Sorry Amazon. Plus, I hadn’t had the Walmart BOPIS experience, so it was as much educational as it was financial for me. I was hoping for the giant merchandise dispenser I’d read about – it was a little anti-climactic to see the plain old scanner and a waiting area.

The overall Walmart BOPIS experience was easy:

  1. An email notifies you when your purchase is available (it was disappointing that the day after ordering, I received another notification that my pickup would need to be delayed. That didn’t feel very Amazon-like).
  2. Scan the barcode from the email receipt (easy mobile scanning). Part of your name goes up on a board informing you of your order in line.
  3. Sit and wait – Walmart created a space with reasonably comfortable chairs.
  4. A notified associate greeted me and told me he’d get my package from the back
  5. Out he came with my cooler 5 minutes later! Pretty fabulous!

What I Liked:

  • It was fairly frictionless
  • I didn’t have to walk the whole store to find my cooler (although, I likely would have put other things in my cart if I did), and the area was by the doors, so I didn't have to find it
  • It was fast (time is the new loyalty currency!)
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What Needs Work:

  • The waiting experience: The ‘waiting room’ experience in the middle of Walmart felt weird. I appreciate they were going for comfort and a designated area, but I felt oddly on display. Or like I was sitting on their display.
  • The app experience: The email drove me to the mobile app ‘to get faster service at the store.’ I downloaded the app but couldn’t figure out where to go. I think it was to check me in online, but I didn’t know where, and after a few clicks I gave up. If I can’t figure it out, I would expect someone with less tech savviness would have the same hurdle.
  • There’s room to reduce even more friction. If I downloaded the app, wouldn’t it be great for Walmart to already know I’m there and automatically put me in line?
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Takeaways for Brand Leaders:

  • Think through the whole technology CX. For Walmart, the mobile piece was there, but somehow something got lost with the ‘check-in.’
  • Remember to think about the total CX too. Don’t underestimate the value of comfortable seating. (A water would have been nice!). I think back to my BOPIS experience with Macy’s – I walked up to a counter, stood in line and waited. I then had to step aside while someone retrieved my purchase and other people were getting checked out. It felt more like waiting at a fast food counter.
  • Think through what your Associates can do to enhance the experience. The associate that helped me was in tune with who I was, why I was there and what I needed. The ability for an associate to deliver on the experience can make or break the whole thing.
  • Think about how to push it even further. I really want that dispenser experience! I believe more than just ‘big box’ brands can deliver some 'Jetson-like' experiences. Don’t be afraid to explore some crazy innovation – it’s not that crazy anymore!

To learn more about time, why it's fast becoming the most critical loyalty driver, and why brands like Walmart, Amazon, and Delta are investing in it, check out our new white paper.