B3: Building Better BOPUS

An easier, faster and more engaged "Buy Online Pick Up in Store" experience

Feburary 2016 - May 2016 | Experience Designer | Omni-Channel

Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPUS), is an shopping experience happening in both digital and physical world. Our OpinionLab screen kept displaying real-time customer feedbacks about BOPUS, among which we saw many negative ones. Some of them were about inventory visibility when shopping online, some of them were about customer having to wait in store to pick up, some of them were about merchandise not ready at the customer service desk when customer arrived... BOPUS at Kohl's is definitely not yet perfect. But the customer experience team has been trying its best to make it better.


Our goal was to provide our customers with an easier, faster and more engaged "Buy Online Pick Up in Store" experience. That includes both better online shopping experience, better store pick up experience, and more.

Pain Points

Why are the customers giving us negative feedbacks? What are they complaining? From what perspectives can we help making the BOPUS experience better?

To understand customers' mental modal, We pulled out the verbs from customer feedbacks and interviews then laid them out chronologically.

Use Mental Modal
Customer Mental Modal

Customer feedback:

"In store I had to wait a long line while in customer service there was only one person attending customers like myself. It took 30 minutes to get to the customer service register then I had to wait another 10 minutes for an employee to go fetch my item downstairs when in my email confirmation it said that my item should be ready and waiting for me at the customer service register."

"The process of checking in waiting in line them bringing up the items and then them scanning each items defeats the purpose of store pick up. The experience was just as if I had come to the store and used the checkout lane. Definitely not a fast experience. Very disappointing."

Among the negative feedbacks, we identified some of the main complaints.

  • Localized store inventory is not accessible online.
  • Pickup process is too complicated. When picking up multiple items, store associate needs to scan every item.
  • Merchandise price gets lower when picking up.
  • Have to wait in line for a long time and then wait for the store associate to fatch the item.
  • etc...

Having to wait in line for a long time is the most complained problem.


What is happening during the entire BOPUS process? What did we do to make our customers complain? To answer that, I put out a service design blueprint and validate it with Kohl's store operation team.

Service Design Blueprint Draft
BOPUS Service Design Blueprint Draft
Service Design Blueprint
BOPUS Service Design Blueprint

It usually takes 1 hour for the store to receive and review customer's order, and another 1 to 3 hours for store associate to find and bring the item to customer service desk. That's up to 4 hours between customer placing the order and receiving order-ready-for-pickup email.

In store, there is only one line in front of customer service desk. It is the only place that deals with product returns and exchanges, order cancellation, purchase rebates, product pickups, etc.

There are usually dozens or hundreds pickup orders. The merchandises have to be stored temporarily in the backroom after customer service desk. When customers arrive, the storer associate needs to go to to the backroom to find the merchandise.

Upon receiving the order, we gave customers a 7-day pickup window. If the order is not picked up in 7 days, the merchandise will be brought back to shelf and the order is treated as cancelled. The store associates don't know on which day would the customer come, so they don't know how to prioritize the pick up products.

The store associate needs to scan customer's ready-for-pickup email barcode, scan every item's barcode, check customer ID, get customer's signature, etc. to get the pickup process done. The ready-for-pickup email is long and takes time to find the barcode.


We partered with Kohl's store operation team and conductd a participatory design workshop to brainstorm solutions to make BOPUS experience faster and easier. We specifically focused on line busting ideas to reduce customer's wait time.

BOPUS Brainstorm
BOPUS Brainstorm

Waiting in line is a universal problem for many other domains. Besides the workshop I also made a mood board, trying to find connections on the similar problem between different scenarios to get inspirations.

BOPUS Mood Board
BOPUS Line Busting Mood Board (Images were got from Internet)


Short term improvement needs to be implemented soon. Dedicated BOPUS area in store is needed for customers to pick up their orders. It would be more efficient if the store associates know the reasons that customers come to customer service desk.

Long term strategy needs to be considered and planned. We need to improve internal order-preparing process, train our store associates to make preparing window much shorter. Better service can be provided with the help with new technology


Concept 1 - Customer Self Check-in

Inspired by flight check-in process, why can't our customer check in on their phone to let store associates know that they are on their way to pick up their orders? Similar to a boarding pass, attached with the ready-for-pickup email or text message, a pickup pass would be much easier for customers to find.

Text Chceckin
Customer Text Back "OMW" to check in

Customers can click on a button on their ready-for-pickup email to let store associates know that they are on their way.

Email Checkin
Ready-for-Pickup Email and Kohl's Pickup Pass

Even faster, if users have Kohl's app installed on their mobile phones, simply check in on the notification.

NativeApp Checkin
Kohl's App Notification Check in

Concept 2 - Dedicated Pickup Area in Store

After see our customers feedbacks and competitive analysis with other retailers, we decided to propose a dedicated area for pickup customers, as we are confident in the increasing use of BOPUS as a shopping approach.

BOPUS Area concept
Kohl's Pickup Area in Store Concept
BOPUS Area in store
Kohl's Pickup Area in Store Conceptual Effect

With customer initiated check-in and dedicated pickup area, it will take much less time for customers to complete their pickup process.

BOPUS New Experience
Kohl's Customer Initiated Pickup Experience

Concept 3 - Kiosk Pickup

There are usually 4 kiosks in each Kohl's stores, which have barcode scan capability. If there is a long line in front of customer service, customer can choose to scan their pick up pass at a kiosk, store associate will bring the merchandise to the customer.

BOPUS Kiosk Pickup
Kohl's Kiosk Check-in Pickup (Thanks to my lovely co-worker Maria as the model)

B3 Proposal

We've done so much more than the concepts above. Here is a consolidated document of some selected concepts we explored. Please take a look at it. For more details, feel free to chat with me in person.

BOPUS Doc Cover