New patterns of consumer behaviour – BOPIS, BORIS & BOSS

The effects of a pandemic can be discussed for hours, but how do they translate into sales orientation and consumer buying patterns? Let’s start from the beginning. The technological revolution has changed the role of traditional stores, as a visit to a stationary branch is not always associated with the intention of a direct purchase. Buyers are eager to take advantage of multi-channel sales offers, viewing stationary stores as one part of the shopping chain, described as: Showrooming, ROPO ( Research Online, Purchase Offline), czy ROTOPO ( Research Online, Test Offline, Purchase Online).

The pandemic reality has brought us even more changes in consumer behavior that are intensifying month after month. They are: BOPIS ( Buy Online, Pick-up In Store), BORIS ( Buy Online, Return In Store), BOSS ( Buy Online, Ship to Store) and Webrooming.

The pandemic accelerated changes that were predicted to adapt in 2025, yet new consumer behaviors emerged as early as 2020.[1] It is estimated that during the first wave of the pandemic and the resulting tightening, stationary sales dropped by nearly 70%, while online sales nearly doubled . Among stores that previously had no online presence, there was a rash of companies jumping to invest in e-commerce[2]. In addition, the conditions created by the market environment have not only reinforced concepts such as ROPO, ROTOPO and Showrooming, but also created new branches and alternatives to these models.

Some behaviors were only just evolving or not emerging on a large scale, but have now been validated by market and business circumstances.

The pandemic, by imposing new conditions of existence and imposed restrictions, has developed new shopping paths for customers. They became much more hybrid, combining the online and offline worlds. Many more people searched for information online before going to the store (i.e. offlineWebrooming[3] ) and thus made targeted and effective purchases. This means that buyers were using technology to browse and order products, and were taking advantage of the availability of services. This is how BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store), BORIS ( Buy Online, Return In Store), BOSS ( Buy Online, Ship to Store) emerged.

As is sometimes the case in life, sometimes a threat turns out to be an opportunity – in this case for the emergence of new distribution channels. The possibility of online shopping and reduction of shipping costs has changed the way of collecting orders (BOPIS) and making returns or complaints (BORIS).

 Consumers are more and more willing to pick up their purchases in person at the store, saving on the cost of the courier. It is a great advantage for buyers to pick up the goods at a specific point closest to them instead of looking for them in stationary branches around the city (BOSS). On the other hand, not being able to physically visit a store in the traditional sense allows buyers to establish the habit of quick click shopping from any location.

Prior to Covid-19, shoppers increasingly used retail stores for a better experience. The pandemic caused the pendulum to swing the other way toward optimized paths beyond frivolity. It’s happening fast but it’s not going away any time soon, in fact, many predictions point to the new habits becoming stronger and more firmly entrenched in shoppers’ minds. Above all, this is confirmed by consumer research that Accenture has been conducting every two weeks since March 2020[4].  The results indicate that models formed during the crisis will survive much longer, permanently changing values, attitudes and behaviors.

What does that mean for marketers?

Changing customer buying habits has real implications for an organization’s business. The more flexible your store/network design is, the easier you can adapt to what’s happening in the world around you. While BOPIS can apply to regular, recurring FMCG or Beauty orders, BOSS can be viewed through the lens of consumer electronics, Home and Garden, or larger apparel orders. Understanding the patterns, concepts and logic presented in the article is the key to improving the Customer Experience (CX). Moreover, it is the basis for expanding your marketing communications and the way you reach your customers, e.g. you can verify the value of users’ carts in the area or the usefulness of the products they order and reach the consumer in a timely manner with a reminder about the new order and the possibility to pick up at the drugstore or the selected point By relying on Geo data, CRM and data-driven marketing, you can effectively crank up your marketing efforts and tap into the untapped gap for up-sell and cross-sell. The flexibility of the organization, the value that new distribution methods bring, and the consumer’s experience with the brand are essential elements that have a huge impact on user brand loyalty.

[1] The “Shopping in 2025” survey was conducted using the online method (CAWI) by the SW Research 2017 research agency [accessed 4/1/2021].

[2] [accessed 01/04/2021]

[3] Webrooming involves searching for a product online and purchasing its physical counterpart in a stationary store. Before making a decision, you can read online the opinion of other users, compare parameters, substitutes or different variants of the product at other manufacturers.

[4] [accessed: 4/4/2021]