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Alternative delivery gaining traction with e-commerce consumers

Index from Via.Delivery finds 18% of U.S. customers utilize buy-online, pick-up-anywhere services when offered

Via.Delivery has found that 20% of U.S. consumers use buy-online, pick-up anywhere services when offered at checkout. The service allows consumers to make online purchases and have those items shipped to any one of thousands of dropoff points, 93% of which are within five miles of the end consumer. (Photo: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels)

Since its launch in November, Via.Delivery has been busy collecting data and commentary on its delivery option for retailers, and it is now sharing that information in what it calls a Buy Online, Pick up Anywhere (BOPA) Index.

The new BOPA Index, released Tuesday morning as the first of what the company expects to be quarterly releases, shows customers and retailers key metrics around BOPA. Via.Delivery said that 18% of U.S. online shoppers choose BOPA when offered that choice at checkout, and 50% of those using BOPA save money on shipping when compared to residential shipping options.

“Buy Online, Pickup Anywhere solves pressing challenges that arose during the pandemic and subsequent supply chain issues,” said Mitchell Nikitin, CEO and co-founder of Via.Delivery. “At a time when residential shipping can cost 30% more than shipping to a commercial address, BOPA offers a lower-cost alternative while also providing consumers the ability to ship packages anywhere for convenient pickup.” 

In Europe, where Via.Delivery has been operating since 2019, nearly 70% of online shoppers choose BOPA when given the choice at checkout. Via.Delivery launched in the U.S. to try to bring that number closer to Europe’s, believing that in doing so, shoppers and delivery providers can lower costs.

After BOPA was Initially launched under the buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) concept used by many retailers, Nikitin told Modern Shipper the decision to market around BOPA was to help clarify what Via.Delivery actually offers customers. The company leverages a technology platform and partnerships with physical stores to offer more than 21,000 pickup locations to online brands in the U.S. There is also a custom API and Shopify plug-in to give pure-play online retailers access to these delivery locations. Some customers, though, believed the item purchased had to be picked up at the store location. That is not the case. Via.Delivery allows the item to be shipped to any of its participating locations.

“Fifty-four percent of online shoppers who decided to go for the shipping option were within one mile of a shipping location,” Nikitin said, noting that the most popular cities for BOPA use are New York and Chicago.

“We heard from some people that what they were doing before is paying a small business across the street for the entire [apartment] building packages to be shipped to so they could come and pick up their packages, so the service was already there,” he said.

The index indicated that 93% of Americans currently live within a 5-mile radius of a BOPA location.

The service allows pickup locations — often retail store locations — to bring in additional foot traffic. It also helps reduce porch piracy, something that 30% of consumers cited as a reason for using Via.Delivery’s service.

Nikitin said the company’s index compared the cities where porch piracy was highest and found a direct correlation to the most popular locations for BOPA use. Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco all ranked in the top seven locations for both porch piracy and BOPA use.

Via.Delivery found that 50% of those choosing BOPA do so for the cost savings, while 15% cite added security and 15% name convenient delivery as reasons for choosing the option. Another 15% say they used BOPA as a way to keep gifts a secret.

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Nikitin said with so many companies working remotely and with an uncertain future as to how many employees eventually return to offices, BOPA could be a solution for those personal online deliveries that used to go to office locations.

The company believes that BOPA will grow in popularity in the U.S. as rising shipping costs drive retailers and e-commerce brands to look for ways to rein in costs.

“We want to track this data on a quarterly basis and see how it changes over time,” Nikitin said, adding that he believes the U.S. “will follow the European trends.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]