BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store) or the click and collect concept, have been around for some time now. A customer will place an order online, then head to the brick-and-mortar store to pick up the merchandise, either at the checkout line or customer service. The process of BOPIS is now changing and evolving, with the use of automated pickup concepts. Zara, a fashion retailer, is seeking to improve its BOPIS process with automation, because of the increase in number of customers opting to pick up their goods from one of their chain stores. The goals of this change are to cut down on the wait time and avoid long lines. The answer to this problem? Robots! The stores’ backrooms will be turned into robots. When customers come to the pickup stations, they will be instructed to enter a code that activates an in-store robot to search for the order in the backroom, the robot then delivers the order to a drop box.
Spectators have opposing views on this type of use of automation, some feeling it hard to believe that a specialty store like Zara, needs this level of technology. One marketer said, “Throwing robots at the problem should happen only when the processes have been ironed out and optimized for profitability. Almost every retailer would see a significant benefit (in profit, efficiency and speed of service) with purpose-built processes and flawless communication.” Others argue re-evaluating the store format and recommending the delivery of popular items to the stores pre-packaged from the factory, to cut back on the steps in order fulfillment.
Not sure about the click and collect process at other Zara locations, but I’ve been to Zara’s in Center City Philly for an online pick-up, and the process was easy and quick.
What would you recommend Zara do? Maybe utilizing (assuming they have not) some of our class concepts (business process mapping, RACI chart, etc.) to see where the hiccups are in their processes? Do you think they are just trying to jump in front of the competition (or keep up), by throwing IT into the mix?