Few can match the scale of Amazon and Walmart. As retailers seek to expedite and streamline e-commerce deliveries, the best way to hedge against the cost of shipping may be to leverage in-store pickup and returns.

In-store pickup is increasingly popular, according to L2’s omnichannel report. A majority—56%—of brands analyzed in the report offer Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS), up from 44% in 2016. However, just a quarter of brands enable customers to filter grid pages by the ability to browse items available in their stores, an investment in user experience that drives consumer adoption of BOPIS.

Omnichannel

Retailer adoption of BOPIS is an indication that brands are leveraging their stores as a competitive advantage against e-commerce-only retailers. But in many verticals, it is not a differentiator. Last year, four in five big box retailers offered BOPIS.

One of those retailers, CVS, recently dropped both BOPIS and the similar buy online, return in-store functionality. The move appeared to be a strategic shift to get consumers to view CVS as not just a store, but a destination for overall health. In its Q3 2017 earnings call, executives announced a focus on streamlining their front-of-store operations to grow the CVS Health initiative, including Minute Clinics, and investing in next-day and same-day shipping to meet digital consumer demands. To do this, the pharmacy would partner with Instacart in more than 2,700 stores across the US.

While not every retailer in the study can build health clinics, there are examples of activewear brands offering classes or training and department stores hosting designers and other influencers for meet-and-greets. Stores offer a unique opportunity to gather consumers physically that pure play e-commerce retail cannot replicate, and true omnichannel brands need to find their niche and leverage it.  Setting up a kiosk in the front of your store may not cut it anymore.

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