More Retailers Embracing In-Store Fulfillment

Ulta Beauty

Retailers are expanding their in-store fulfillment options to accommodate changing shopping patterns.

It’s a trend we’ve been noting for some time and one that now extends to retailers like Ulta, as the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday (Dec. 8).

The beauty product chain has expanded the number of stores it uses for fulfillment, now packaging products at 116 of its roughly 1,350 locations, said Amiee Bayer-Thomas, Ulta’s chief supply chain officer. She told the WSJ this can shave up to a day from delivery times.

“We recognize the consumer journey is no longer linear,” Bayer-Thomas said. “Ulta Beauty must provide shopping options that reflect how and where our guests want to engage.”

“BOPIS” (buy online, pick-up in store) is “having a moment,” PYMNTS wrote last month after the concept staged a high-profile comeback on Black Friday.

It’s not just that taking the trip to a nearby store is more palatable. Gas prices have come down, and ongoing supply chain problems and inventory upheaval have made waiting for doorstep delivery a frustrating experience.

This doesn’t mean that in-store or curbside pickup will necessarily overtake shipping to the house (something which has been used by about 80% of consumers right up until the holiday shopping season). However, our data on delivery, which includes Black Friday, shows that in-person pickup has gained some ground.

Our research found that in-store pickup was used by 25% of consumers, close to twice the levels reached last year. Curbside pickup increased, too.

BOPIS is also a model that’s extensible. For example, Starbucks products are now being added to Target’s curbside pickup offering. And Kohl’s said in August that it was expanding BOPIS self-pickup for eligible online orders at all 1,100 of its locations.

And some categories have proven to be a natural fit for omnichannel efforts. PYMNTS has found that nearly 40% of consumers order groceries online for curbside pickup each month.