With a growing number of consumers expecting convenience and same-day deliveries when making online purchases, more omni-channel retailers are choosing to fulfill orders straight from their brick-and-mortar stores. Setting up retail locations to serve simultaneously as distribution centers requires planning strategically and investing in technology to seamlessly integrate your entire fulfillment operation.
Inventory visibility is the key to implementing customer-favorite programs including ship-from-store and in-store pick-up. Retailers who shy away from becoming a true omni-channel retailer do so for good reason – lack of inventory management precision led to $1.75 trillion in lost revenue worldwide in 2015, according to a survey from retail analyst IHL Group. A fully-integrated IT system enables inventory information to be shared among all locations. A cloud-based in-store system allows retailers to store important consumer data, track orders, view inventory in real-time, and manage operational procedures quickly and effectively through the convenience of using handheld devices in addition to desktop computers. Online shoppers are savvy and want their shopping experience to mirror the in-store experience as much as possible. They look for options and know the possibilities.
A successful ship-from-store retailer must also be able to deliver in a timely manner while communicating with customers about order status details. The customer does not even need to know when something is shipped from a store. When you know the location of your shopper, your e-commerce software begins the fulfillment process by choosing the item that is in closest proximity to the point of delivery. This level of visibility allows shippers to consider free delivery on some products, a great value-add to bump up customer satisfaction.
Retailers must consider packaging and transportation costs when processing online purchases directly from stores. Products need to be packaged in the same manner as items coming from a traditional fulfillment center. An additional inventory of supplies must be maintained including packaging materials, packing slip printers, paper and labels. Retailers that transform the backrooms of their stores into distribution centers must have space and the ability to train employees to multi-task between brick-and-mortar sales and e-commerce fulfillment center tasks.
Again, ship-from-store is only one of the strategies for omni-channel retailers. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy or mix. Transportation Insight can design a fulfillment program that best fits your customer demands and blends into your current distribution network. Our team of experts can perform an in-depth evaluation of the current state of your multi-modal logistics operation to show you how your processes stack up against market best practices.