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Buy online, pick up at store is vital, if it's done safely

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Businesses and consumers are shifting their preferences to digital payments and channels. And it's not a surprise that two of the fastest-growing shopping experiences are “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS) and curbside pickup.

According to the recent Visa Back to Business study, nearly four in five (78%) consumers have made changes to the way they pay, including shopping online when possible (49%), using contactless payments (48%) and not using cash as much (46%) when paying in-store. Most important, nearly half or respondents (48%) said they would not shop at a store that only offers payment methods that require contact with a cashier or a shared device.

According to a 2019 pre-pandemic study commissioned by Business Insider Intelligence, 68% of survey respondents in the U.S. have embraced BOPIS and 50% said it was a factor in deciding which merchant to purchase from. Visa’s back-to-business study after the pandemic found that a quarter of survey respondents have selected a BOPIS experience for the first time as a direct result of COVID-19.

As this practice becomes more popular, it is also susceptible to increased fraud. Therefore, it’s critical for merchants that offer BOPIS to implement appropriate controls in the purchase and picking-up phases to help manage risk.

Why should merchants adopt a BOPIS strategy? E-commerce orders from some merchants can take five to seven business days to reach the customer and usually include shipping costs. In some cases, items may be lost or damaged during shipping. With BOPIS, buyers can avoid these risks and additional costs.

BOPIS also enables merchants the opportunity to increase foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations, while abiding by local health authority recommendations, which creates the potential for additional sales while the consumer is in-store and provides relief from the logistics of shipping online orders.

Merchants that offer curbside pickup offer customers the benefits of BOPIS but with the added benefit of picking up their purchases without stepping inside a retail store or leaving their vehicle. Another benefit is having the product available for pickup quickly after a purchase is made — sometimes within an hour or so. This enables consumers to stop by the store to pick up their purchase while running an errand nearby or on their way back from work.

However, merchants should pay attention during the shopping, purchase and pickup process to minimize the risk of fraud. A few tips for merchants to keep in mind include:

For online ordering and payment processes: Leverage automation and use an e-commerce fraud management solution with dedicated rules for BOPIS transaction types. Employ a manual review process for high-risk or high-dollar transactions, which a fraud management solution can help identify for review. Check suspicious behavior related to orders and payment such as orders citing the same payment credential, billing address or email in short periods of time; orders requesting BOPIS at different physical locations citing the same payment credential, billing address or email; and orders citing the same email or phone number involving disparate payment credentials or billing information.

For pickup processes: Train staff to deliver a fair and consistent BOPIS experience to customers. Ask for customer identification at the time of pickup and ensure it matches the billing details. Make sure there is an escalation path to make the purchase in-store through a standard POS terminal, if needed. Provide an app or mobile browser-driven customer tool to alert employees when the customer is outside and ready to receive their order or to release delivery of an in-store pickup. This offers device-matching to help connect the purchase to a person or device, and geolocation to confirm the customer is physically present instead of a fraudster residing in another state or country using stolen payment data and a network of co-conspirators to pick up the goods.

Once a BOPIS strategy is in place with the appropriate fraud controls and logistics to provide a smooth customer experience, it can be a secure way for merchants to find growth and convenient way for consumers to shop. Companies that ignore this emerging trend may find themselves on the wrong side of shifting consumer preferences and miss potential opportunities for growth.

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