There’s never been a better time to be a retailer. After nearly 18 months of remote learning, school districts across the US are mandating a return to in-person learning. Colleges are bringing students back to campus. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 1-3% growth seen in the recent past.

And just like we’ve seen items in short supply in other categories, this year parents can expect the same when it comes to back-to-school items. Tablets and computers, along with sneakers and licensed character backpacks are only available in limited quantities the supply chain strains seen since the pandemic This means parents can expect limited stock levels and choices for many coveted items, along with fewer discounts.

With the shopping landscape continuing to be impacted by pandemic, parents need all the help they can get from retailers for a seamless and efficient experience. Offering omni-channel capabilities such as buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) can give shoppers a convenient shopping experience while saving them time and money.

Many consumers prefer BOPIS since it allows them to shop online without dealing with shipping costs. When shopping online, consumers can find out what’s available and what’s out of stock immediately, thus helping them avoid wasted trips to the store. This is a great experience for shoppers and it’s a win for retailers too. BOPIS both offers the advantages of digital shopping and encourages customers to continue to engage with brick-and-mortar stores where they are likely to add more items to their cart.

Let’s walk through a traditional shopping experience versus BOPIS. If you’re a typical parent, you’ve received a comprehensive list of supplies that your kiddos need, and if not, many retailers have copies of your school’s list in the store. When you go down the path of visiting your favorite retailer this back-to-school season, be prepared to visit one or more retailers to get through your shopping list. If you’re lucky, every item will be available in one store. But if you can’t find all your must-have items, that same process will have to be repeated till the list has zero items left. And don’t forget, it’s often hard to find items with crowded stores when everyone is shopping for the same things — yellow folders with 3 prongs, pink erasers, college or wide ruled notebooks.

When you go down the path of buying items online, you can quickly see the availability of items at your favorite retailer(s). If your retailer lets you search for your school’s list, you’ll likely be presented with all items on your list. You can accept the selection or make substitutions or deletions. Once you have everything you need, you can select the fulfillment method of choice — in this case BOPIS. In a matter of minutes from the comfort of your home, your shopping is complete. Now the only thing left is picking up items in the store.

Making life easier for parents doesn’t require retailers to overhaul their existing technology stack. Blue Yonder’s Luminate Commerce microservices can be augmentatively added to existing solutions to help organizations drive e-commerce growth. With solutions such as Inventory Availability which gives busy parents the ability to see what and how many items are available at their local store, and the Commits microservice that tells them what fulfillment options are available — such as BOPIS, curbside, ship to home, etc. — and when items will be fulfilled, retailers can empower today’s shoppers to make smarter decisions. And for retailers, Luminate Order Fulfillment supports store fulfillment activities (curbside, BOPIS, ship from/ to store, same day delivery/last mile) by streamlining the process of accepting, prioritizing, picking and packing, and finally handing/delivering orders to customers. Blue Yonder’s e-commerce microservices can make your retail establishment the go-to destination for back-to-school shopping and every other major shopping event.

BOPIS should be in the arsenal of every retailer today. It’s not just that these omni-channel options cater to the demands of customers, but they enable businesses to gain an economic advantage. With back-to-school season budgets up this year and many items in short supply due to supply chain issues, offering the best customer experiences can give organizations a leg up.

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