Buy online, return in-store (BORIS) continues to accelerate as a consumer behavior trend combining the best of both retail worlds. Most of the online orders are produced in stores today. Handling BORIS is vital for customer experience and operational success. This article examines the latest BORIS trends reshaping retail in 2024 and strategies for retailers to excel:

Expected Growth of BORIS in 2024

BORIS volumes show no signs of slowing - a Brightpearl survey found that 80% of US shoppers returned online orders to stores. Key drivers include:
  • Online shopping growth: E-commerce sales expected to rise by CAGR of 31.13 2024
  • Higher online return rates: Average 30%, encouraging in-store returns
  • Consumer preference for self-service: 62% of shoppers prefer returning items in-store themselves rather than by mail
BORIS volumes are projected to increase 35% yearly. Integrating channels for these shoppers becomes critical.

Challenges with current BORIS support

Despite its popularity among consumers, most retailers struggle with smoothly facilitating BORIS:
  • Disjointed systems with inadequate purchase linkage across channels
  • Absence of store associate visibility into online order data and return status
  • Confusing policies on eligible items for BORIS from specific retailers
  • Lengthy reimbursement settlement after the store accepts the return
  • Lack of customer transparency into refund status post-return

Addressing these omnichannel gaps is vital for scaling BORIS.

2024 strategies for seamless BORIS

Advances in unified commerce technology and evolving consumer expectations will shape BORIS best practices going forward.

1. Unify omnichannel order management

A unified order management system (OMS) forms the core foundation for smooth BORIS. Connecting all sales channels into one central order database provides accurate visibility and management of online orders returning to stores for associates handling exchanges.

Real-time online-offline connectivity also speeds up refunds via instant order updates rather than relying on nightly batch syncs. Leading omnichannel retailers will implement unified order management for frictionless BORIS.

2. Empower associates with mobility

Store associates remain the frontline for exchanges and returns. Equipping them with mobile technology lets staff access purchase histories and return status for any customer on the sales floor.

Combining mobile accessories like barcode scanners and printers further equips associates with seamless BORIS. Associates can instantly verify online orders for returns, print return labels for reimbursements, and update central systems - all via mobile devices.

3. Flexible BORIS policies

Nearly 68% of consumers consider omnichannel return flexibility necessary for their loyalty. To meet this demand, retailers must lead in building channel-agnostic policies that simplify BORIS.

It starts with easy return instructions conveniently allowing customers to bring any online purchases into stores for instant refunds or exchanges. Restrictions around return eligibility for specific items will ease further by 2024.

4. Refund settlement In seconds

74% of customers highlighting instant refunds as a motivator indicates settling reimbursements faster matters. Advances like cloud POS technology will enable stores to handle refunds for online items at the cash register directly in seconds rather than days.

Applying open API commerce also allows integration of external payment ecosystems like PayPal for real-time refunds from store systems. Frictionless reimbursement directly at store checkout will emerge as the norm.

5. Transparent BORIS tracking

Keeping customers informed on return status drives additional convenience. Tracking portals that provide visibility into stage-by-stage progress - from store receipt to refund settlement - increase transparency.

Updating policies and instructions online for items eligible for store returns also helps set the right expectations. Prompt confirmations via text messages or emails when the reimbursement hits complete the cycle.

The omnichannel imperative

Today's consumers clearly seek omnichannel integration when they shop - they expect a steady, unified brand experience across online and offline channels. Research indicates over 80% of shoppers make extra store trips precisely due to omnichannel retail capabilities like buy-online-pickup-in-store.

As omnichannel consumer behaviors blend across historically siloed sales channels, retailers require unified retail technologies and operations more than ever simply to keep pace with changing shopper preferences.

Using the trends and strategies above, forward-looking retailers can transform BORIS from an obstacle into a strategic omnichannel advantage, delivering superior customer experiences. Those who fail to adapt face losing out to more channel-agnostic competition.