Why in-store fulfillment is a must for retail & how to pull it off with less resource strain

Photo by: https://burst.shopify.com/@matthew_henry

Today’s customers are looking for a seamless purchasing experience, whether that’s in-store, online, or a combination of both. But the so-called “last mile” — the time it takes for a shipment to reach a customer —can be a thorn in the side of a retailer. Enter in-store fulfillment. 

Benefits of in-store fulfillment

curbside fulfillment - girl  wearing mask holding shopping bags sitting against her open trunk

Mounting shipping costs are costly for retailers who are reluctant to pass them along to customers who are looking for the best price for every item, as well as free shipping. 

By offering in-store fulfillment, the delivery process can be seamless as customers choose from curbside delivery, click and collect, and buy online/return in-store options. 

Employees can address customer requests in real-time, monitor inventory, and deliver attentive service.

In-store fulfillment means retailers no longer have to route products exclusively to a warehouse.

Nordstrom and Kohl’s are excellent examples of putting the strategy into practice. 

They can fulfill orders from the store closest to the customer’s location, leveraging their stores as fulfillment centers and shipping orders directly to customers, reducing costs and speeding up deliveries.

Requirements for in-store fulfillment

sales associate executes sale fullfullment using Retail Pro Prism POS

While the benefits are clear, implementing in-store fulfillment requires an omnichannel strategy in which inventory data is tightly integrated across ecommerce and the in-store POS

Ship-from-store, ship-to-store, and in-store pickup can then be handled with one solution that optimizes in-store inventory usage and reduces the time and cost for fulfilling online orders.

Perhaps the most daunting part of the process is getting a 360° view of inventory by connecting data from e-commerce sales with in-store transactions. 

Determining the correct timing for syncing online data and orders with in-store POS is vital; solutions can be configured to sync data at any interval, including real-time, hourly, nightly, or at other intervals that make sense for a retailer’s operations and network capacity.

If syncing lags, inventory can fall behind, and there’s a risk of selling out of products that have already been committed to online orders. 

With seamlessly connected channels, shoppers can buy products online and pick them up in the store that same day. 

Store associates can receive pick lists to select and package the products ordered online. 

Selecting off-the-shelf products increases inventory turn and decreases the duplication that comes with holding a separate online order inventory.

In-store fulfillment completes the frictionless purchasing experience. 

Customers get quick, free delivery — often receiving their items even faster than ordering online. 

Retailers, in turn, move inventory more rapidly, helping to maintain price stability. 

Both shoppers and retailers benefit from a more efficient customer experience.


DTC brands have a big impact on traditional retail

modcloth, bonobos and jet logos in a walmart shopping cart, harry's, casper, and care/of in target shopping cart. DTC brands impact traditional retail

Direct to consumer (DTC) products have been wildly popular in the past few years, and as they slowly infiltrate big box retailers’ shelves, brands such as Casper, Harry’s and Bonobos are gaining more attention and getting an even bigger sales boost.

But traditional retailers are learning from them as well.

For the biggest retailers, partnering with DTC has been mutually beneficial. Walmart bought men’s fashion retailer Bonobos in 2017 for $310 million. Target is partnering with Harry’s to sell the well-made, discount-priced razors in stores, as well as Casper mattresses — which can also be found in top-tier stores such as Nordstrom’s.

Mutual gains

two businessmen shaking hands - DTC brands impact traditional retail and it's mutually beneficial

Part of the draw of those and many other DTC brands is their popularity: They will drive customers into stores and online. Forging partnerships with newer, more sought-after brands helps retailers attract and create relationships with a new segment of shoppers who may not have otherwise shopped with them.

In addition, what big retailers such as Walmart, Target and Nordstrom’s can gain from well-established DTC brands is digital expertise. These products have successfully launched and sold products online with no physical stores. They are marketing powerhouses, and big box stores are learning from their strategies, particularly for their own private-label merchandise. For example, Target’s partnership with Harry’s spurred it to step up its men’s grooming selection by expanding its own Goodfellow & Co’s offering to more than 30 products. (Target is clearly focusing on the segment and rounding out its offerings by also incorporating Ulta Beauty shops this year into 100 locations this year.)

Fluid shopping

dark skinned woman with big short curls wearing orange shirt shopping on laptop on couch, DTC brands impact traditional retail - teaching big box stores about online marketing

What these relationships mean for consumers is that brands and retailers are becoming more attuned to the future of shopping. Customers are fluid in how they want to shop: One day they may opt for a personal, immersive experience at Sephora and the next they’ll order lipstick online. Convenience is a driving force, but it doesn’t always mean ecommerce. Sometimes, convenience is the ease of being able to go to a physical location and try on, inspect, and ask questions.

Successful retail has always meant providing what customers want, when they want it. Today’s technology merely widens the possibilities, and requires retailers to be intuitive and flexible.


In-store shoppers, in-store fulfillment: Planning for inventory challenges

safe retail shopping during COVID

Handling a supply chain is always part art, part skill — but during 2020, it sometimes seemed like it was also part magic act.

Getting products on shelves was a testament to the relationships retailers had built over the years with their suppliers, and only the strongest survived.

COVID inventory crisis

man staring at wall with papers pinned to it

A little more than one year ago, COVID-19 lockdowns began — ushered in by a period of consumer buying never before experienced.

Within days, paper goods and disinfectants were out of stock, available only on the black market for outrageous prices.

A year later, quarantines are gradually being lifted, in some areas more quickly than in others, and most — if not all — of the items once in short supply are reliably back on retailers’ shelves.

A year ago, however, many retailers were forced to close very quickly, with little notice and stockrooms full of inventory.

Those retailers not considered “essential” were left with a surplus of stock that during the ensuing weeks and months became outdated and unwanted; many people weren’t leaving their homes, so foot traffic hit all-time lows.

Adapting stock strategies

Online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops alike depend on good inventory management to run an efficient business.

Now that stores are open on a more regular schedule, their managers are recognizing that inventory strategies must change.

By offering a more curated selection than pre-COVID, retailers can more adeptly handle the ongoing uncertainty in customer traffic and buying behavior.

A number of retailers, including Gap and Nordstrom’s, reportedly reopened with a limited stock strategy, to hedge against a less-than-robust shopping season.

BOPIS challenge

In some respects, offering customers the option of buying online, picking up in-store (BOPIS) saved the day.

Many retailers further simplified the process for customers by offering curbside pickup; customers never had to leave their cars to retrieve their purchases.

By allowing customers the flexibility of purchasing online and retrieving products safely without leaving their cars, retailers eliminated a point of customer friction: Customers had the convenience of ordering online plus, in many cases, same-day pickup.

However, retailers faced the challenge of maintaining the right amount of inventory in stores to keep brick-and-mortar shoppers happy while still profiting from opportunities to move inventory through digital channels.

Stores that came up with the perfect balance will likely continue to offer the service post-COVID because of its popularity with customers.

Visibility into inventory movement

Retailers can only be successful at both in-store selling and e-commerce with accurate insight from trading partners into what is coming in and when.

With integrated inventory visibility from suppliers, retailers won’t be risking the safety stock they’ve built for in-store consumers.

For example, sending shipment information within two hours of shipment departure, and including scannable barcode labels on all packages can help retailers manage appropriate safety stock thresholds for in-store and BOPIS experiences.

Inventory management tools like Retail Pro also make the process more efficient for retailers.

When ordering merchandise on a multi-store Purchase Order in Retail Pro, a retailer can generate an advance ship notice for each store so each store knows what merchandise to expect.

When the merchandise arrives at the store, managers can generate a voucher from the advance ship notice to receive the items ordered on the PO into inventory.

Recovery ahead

Inventory management pre-COVID required effort and attention to detail.

During COVID, the supply chain was thrust into chaos, as manufacturers slowed production due to workers’ illness at their facilities, and orders fluctuated from exceeding capacity to trickling in.

Post-COVID, in the weeks and months ahead, the economy will begin to recover, and inventory management will face challenges as demand increases and stock levels race to meet it. When vendors are transparent and help retailers plan based on accurate delivery forecasts, retailers will be able to pursue sales opportunities in digital channels, resulting in improved top-line revenue and contributing to a global economic recovery.


Why the ‘Last Mile’ should be retailers’ first thought

person signing for delivery on ipad over a box that a delivery person wearing a denim shirt is holding

The anticipation of receiving that perfect order can be easily derailed by a poor product delivery experience.

The “ultimate” shopping experience depends on excellence from beginning—the order—to end, the delivery.

How quickly goods get from a warehouse to a customer depends on what’s called the “last mile” of the supply chain.

The efficiency of that final leg ultimately determines the customer’s satisfaction with the buying journey.

The Last-Mile challenge

person in fuzzy brown sweater holding two smaller boxes

Retailers face the challenge of managing their supply chains to keep delivery times short while keeping costs low.

Customers overwhelmingly opt for fast, free delivery when placing orders, which has led to a growing need for a broad distribution network, including warehouses.

Logically, such distribution centers should be in close proximity to the customers they serve.

CBRE Research analyzed the 15 largest U.S. metro areas and found that distances range from six miles in the San Francisco Bay Area to nine miles in the “Inland Empire,” a region east of Los Angeles County.

Not surprisingly, highly urbanized and dense population centers tend to be closer to last-mile facilities, while more suburban locations were farther away.

Proximity is important because customers expect fast delivery.

As Amazon continues to push the limits of logistics by offering same-day delivery, other retailers are expected to provide two-day delivery — at the latest. That final step in the delivery process is the most expensive and complex.

Gather and analyze logistics data

person in front of brick wall in denim shirt holding medium cardboard box

Companies collect so much data that it’s easy to suffer from information overload.

Gathering data is only the first step in understanding what is happening.

The real valuable information only comes to light after the analysis.

Put all of the “last leg” data in one centralized visual analytics tool, crunch the numbers to better understand the ins and outs of the last mile delivery process, and make regular adjustments as needed.

Offer Real-Time Delivery Tracking

Static tracking numbers are so last decade.

Invest in building or sourcing an app for your customers that tracks driver locations live and provides accurate ETAs, like the Uber of last-mile deliveries.

In addition, text messaging customers with updates on the delivery process creates a transparent process that supports a frictionless buying experience.

Many challenges associated with last mile delivery are outside of the retailer’s control, for example:

  • The number of orders picked and packed daily
  • The frequency that orders are picked up by the carrier
  • The proximity of the warehouse to the customers
  • The number of deliveries made daily

Many retail businesses partner with external fleets and use multiple carriers.

But there are ways to improve the “last mile,” and retailers can take more control of their business’s last mile logistics to identify inefficiencies quickly and improve their customers’ experience in a delivery-first world.


Retailers benefit from unified commerce insights

For retailers, a unified commerce strategy is built on the foundation of integrated retail technology for an efficient, frictionless customer experience across channels.

Unified commerce gives retailers a smooth, efficient means of transacting business, because inventory, sales, e-commerce, and fulfillment system data is integrated to regularly and automatically keep inventory availability and customer details synced and up to date.

From Point of Sale to e-commerce, from CRM to inventory management, all these technologies need to be connected so retailers have a clear picture of who their customers are and how to provide what they want.

Interaction with customers

Woman examines various items of dishes. Beautiful woman shopping tableware in supermarket. Manager helps a costumer.

Each time a customer enters the retail store, they leave behind a wealth of data for any retailer who can measure their interactions within the store:

  • What was bought?
  • What was picked up but not purchased in the end?
  • What was the dwell time near products that were not purchased?
  • How long was the customer in-store?
  • Was this an online pickup?
  • Did they purchase other items along with their online pickup?

Those answers, when documented with technology, inform a retailer’s back-end systems, so inventory can keep pace with demand, and so marketing teams can keep pace with customer needs.

To collate and analyze that information, retail processes and tools must be intelligently integrated in a retail management platform like Retail Pro to enable sharing of relevant data across both customer-facing systems and those that integrate with backend vendor systems.

Applications from the point-of-sale report on purchases, inventory, and customer data. Sharing this data with an integrated warehouse management system allows warehouse staff to have insight into stock levels currently on the shelves, and to place orders with suppliers as supplies diminish.

Sharing the data with a loyalty and personalized marketing platform like AppCard for Retail Pro allows marketing teams to create targeted campaigns around a customer’s purchase history.

Consistent data across channels

That principle also applies to in-store sales staff—they should have the same product information available as retailers’ online channels.

Integrating your ecommerce software with your POS can give store staff the visibility they need to serve customers who call in to verify stock availability before coming in.

Customers who started their retail journey at home but then switch “channels” to come into the brick-and-mortar store must be certain that inventory is in sync: Surprises such as realizing that products aren’t in stock when the web site said they were there are unacceptable.

If your website indicates there is a pair of shoes in certain size on the shelf, your in-store staff should be able to verify that through an inventory management application.

Retailers that use disparate, unintegrated systems risk delays in communication because data is manually updated at the end of the day, causing inventory counts to become out of sync and unreliable.



Customer-facing systems for engagement

There are a number of technologies that retailers can put in place to provide a seamless customer-facing experience.

Shelf labels and cameras can map consumers’ movements within the store. That helps in product layout for future products, and in product forecasting. They can also indicate where is the heaviest foot traffic within the store.

Beacons can communicate with an app on the customer’s phone to notify them of product sales when customers are in the store’s vicinity, enticing them to stop in.

When integrated with the POS as well, interactions in the app which originated from a beacon trigger and resulted in the ultimate purchase can be properly attributed to track the efficacy of the tools and campaigns put in place.

The connected data then provides insight also on unvoiced customer needs which are nevertheless discernable through their interactions with a retailer’s various channels.

Integrating data in retail technologies provides the foundation for retailers to more effectively determine and act on customer needs for a better customer experience.


Retail Pro Prism: Tracking inventory needs and movement in COVID-19’s accelerated Omnichannel

Image: Polina Tankilevitch

The uptick in online sales due to COVID-19 has been explosive.

Listrak reports a 40% increase in ecommerce revenue since the United States declared a state of emergency in late Spring.

Research from Klaviyo shows a sudden spike in demand for product categories that help people make the most of time at home, such as the “new essentials” that include electronics, housewares, and office supplies.

Order values of electronics this June 15 was approximately $8 million, for example, compared with roughly $4 million one year ago.

Retailers in the home goods industry are likewise seeing an impressive increase in sales, likely because shelter-in-place laws have made people a bit more conscious of their home environments.

As demand surges, many manufacturers are finding it difficult to keep up. Retailers are faced with figuring out how to efficiently manage inventory during production slowdowns when products are in high demand.

No retailer wants a repeat of the infamous “toilet paper shortage.”

With the uptick in sales, retailers are keeping a closer watch on orders to ensure satisfied shoppers.

Having accurate inventory data is crucial to survival for retail, which is where retail management solutions such as Retail Pro Prism fit in.

Tracking inventory available for omnichannel sales with Retail Pro

Because many physical stores are not yet opened at full capacity, a greater percentage of sales are being funneled through e-commerce platforms.

However, as states and nations reopen commerce, curbside pickup and in-store purchases are being added to the mix even for non-food retail, making it increasingly important that inventory counts across channels are accurate.

But many retailers were only on the path to omnichannel when COVID-19 hit and have had to accelerate digital efforts to create somewhat of a make-shift omnichannel to fill moment’s need.

As the platform for omnichannel data connectivity, Retail Pro Prism also helps retailers fill in the gaps as they transition toward fully integrated data across systems.

Retail Pro Prism gives retailers full visibility into their inventory at each location, whether the goods are at the warehouse, in transit, in the back room, or on the sales floor.

This kind of detailed visibility gives retail managers greater accuracy in tracking inventory, helping minimize unprofitable overstocks and the opportunity cost of shortages.

Automated replenishment capabilities based on minimum and maximum values in Retail Pro also ensure purchase orders are placed in time to prevent shortages.

Integration with retailers’ ecommerce platforms gives a threefold benefit:

  1. Shoppers are given visibility into which locations near them have the products they want in stock
  2. Store inventory can be used to fulfill online orders, increasing turn and reducing the need for duplicate inventory sets, one for each channel
  3. Changes to inventory triggered by online purchases or purchases in store are automatically updated in both platforms, keeping availability accurate

Gauging staffing needs based on transaction and traffic volume

Image: Edmond Dantès

Proper inventory tracking processes not only guarantee items are on hand when requested but can also help with employee staffing.

With less shoppers in stores during COVID-19, certain support staff jobs are not being performed at the same rate, so stocking up on the materials used for those jobs isn’t imperative.

Reduced foot traffic means moving resources and shifting focus. Warehouse workers may need to adjust schedules and workloads to accommodate.

Using reports and visual analytics in Retail Pro, you can compare staffing levels to number of transactions completed per hour, including the number of items per transaction and foot traffic counts.

These kinds of data together will help determine whether an increase in staff would be needed to improve the experience for shoppers as they are coming back to your stores and wanting to find items quickly.

Levi’s: better turn even during COVID-19

Levi Strauss credits smart inventory management with helping it to remain strong during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the first quarter of 2020, the company reported inventories were 7% lower than the prior year’s.

During an investor call, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Harmit Singh said that Levi’s strategy will continue to focus on inventory management and added that a significant majority of its inventory is core replenishment.

That includes stock it can carry over into future seasons: More than 70% of Levi products are so-called “evergreen products.”

In addition, the retailer plans to increase its ship-from-store capabilities, allowing retail outlets to fulfill e-commerce orders.

When they do venture into a store post Covid-19, customers will want to see well stocked shelves and will not want to wait for shipments to arrive.

With a more proactive approach to tracking inventory and stocking shelves, retailers can keep existing customers happy — and attract new ones.


Curbside retail: here to stay, and simpler with Retail Pro Prism POS

Thinking out of the box and providing new ways for customers to connect with retail has long been critical for businesses to maintain loyal shoppers as well as to attract new prospects.

Sometimes, circumstances such as COVID-19’s mandated social distancing are the impetus for lasting changes.

Many retailers have had some omnichannel presence, but others have had little or even no experience; both groups have had to innovate and create new ways to connect with customers during COVID-19, many of whom wanted to shop but were reluctant to mingle with the public at large.

As a result, retailers’ new strategies are catering to those unique, and challenging, requests.

At a time when many are feeling overwhelmed, retailers that can offer convenience will be rewarded by shoppers.

Curbside pickup is one convenience strategy that has been refined in recent weeks and is likely to remain long after shoppers’ fears about going into stores have subsided.

Curbside: the final BOPIS frontier

Image: Gustavo Fring

Prior to March, many large retailers offered the ability to buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS).

The strategy lets customers shop round the clock, and then during business hours take delivery of the products at the retailer.

It may save the customer some time, but it’s more likely simply enabling a “time shift”: Instead of shopping for two hours between 10 and 8, BOPIS customers might shop for an hour online at midnight, and then stop on the way home from work to retrieve the items.

However, “stopping off” used to mean find a parking spot, enter the store, find the pickup location and finish the transaction.

All those steps ate up precious time.

Simplifying curbside pickup with Retail Pro POS

Retail Pro Prism mobile point of sale

Integrating curbside pickup into the process has made BOPIS much more efficient for the customer; the pre-ordered product is simply delivered to the customer waiting in the car.

That last step makes BOPIS far more convenient, and Retail Pro Prism mobile POS makes this step more convenient for your team.

With Retail Pro Prism you get the same deep functionality on any device you use – whether mobile or desktop, Apple, Android, or Windows – so your associates can meet your customer at their car with their order, POS in hand. This is useful for orders that were reserved online and still need to be rung up.

Customers who have been shopping with you online during COVID-19 may also bring returns with them when they come to pick up their order.

With Retail Pro Prism mobile POS, your sales associate can complete the return on the spot with the customer’s receipt. If the customer forgot their receipt, you can easily look up the transaction from the system or just look up the item in your inventory and enter it as a return transaction.

You can even sign your customer up for the integrated AppCard loyalty and rewards from the curbside.

Retail to go

Image: Christina Morillo

The number of orders placed online and picked up at brick-and-mortar stores by customers rose 208% between April 1 and April 20 compared with a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures the web transactions of 80 of the top 100 U.S. internet retailers.

If retailers keep the curbside option once they fully reopen, it will provide yet another delivery channel to their most busy customers.

Texas governor Greg Abbott recently allowed nonessential retail stores to start offering curbside pickup, or, as he called it, “retail to go.”

Even before the economic shutdown, some pharmacies were offering curbside service, such as CVS.

However, the drugstore chain didn’t offer the service at all of its outlets, and it was relatively unique in offering it.

Pre-COVID, curbside pickup was nowhere near as popular as it has become.

Looking into the future, it seems logical customers will want to retain this new convenience.

Convenience is going to drive the economy in the coming months, and possibly years.

While born out of necessity, customers are going to consider a once-novel curbside service part of the “new normal” retail experience.


7 Data Insights to Shape Your Retail Decisions Post COVID-19

Finding Opportunities in Your Business Data With Retail Pro Decisions

COVID-19 forced retailers worldwide to pivot fast to survive this unprecedented and wholly unexpected market downturn.

From shifting to ecommerce-only and fast fulfillment strategies, to staying connected with customers during lockdowns, your ability to adapt and take assertive action is crucial for your business to survive.

Now more than ever retailers must turn to their data to monitor KPIs and get insights that will help you combat the ongoing effects COVID-19 will have on consumer mindsets and economies.

Watch this webinar to see 7 insights you need to search out now from your data to help you shape your retail decisions post COVID-19 and position you to make the most of the shopping season remaining in 2020.

Watch this Retail Pro Decisions webinar to hear:

  • Smart ways retailers adapted to stay connected with customers and maintain retail operations
  • Why every retailer should re-evaluate the extent of data driving their strategy for customer engagement and inventory management
  • How to monitor every KPI with data from your POS, ERP, CRM, e-Commerce, and other critical applications integrated in Retail Pro Decisions visual analytics software
  • What insights you need to glean from your data now to shape your decisions as you reopen and reconnect with shoppers for the remainder of 2020

3 Ways to keep customers from feeling ‘distant’ during COVID-19

The current economic lockdown has exacerbated challenges many retailers have faced during the past several years, as decreasing foot traffic and increasing online competition has chipped away at margins.

Even as local governments consider when retailers’ doors can and should reopen, many customers will remain wary of running non-essential errands.

However, a vast majority of retailers already have employed successful strategies to compete with online merchants, and now they are redoubling their efforts to keep customers happy and satisfied.

For many retailers, that means continuing to invest in the online portion of their businesses to remain viable.

Current circumstances have forced them to offer new services — including some “out of the box” solutions — that may become permanent additions to their business strategies.

Here are 3 ideas that retailers large and small are using to meet, and even exceed, customer expectations during COVID-19.

1: Social media engagement

Topping the list of retailers’ worries is figuring out how maintain and possibly even increase customer relationships with their customer bases digitally.

These are strategies that are not only imperative when in-person engagement is impossible or reduced, but important also when competition from online merchants seems overwhelming.

Social media marketing via Facebook and Instagram are perfect tools for the task, as is direct-to-consumer email marketing.

Customer relationships can be nurtured, and clients can still feel the strength of their loyalty and engagement with brands using social media as well as personalized emails.

These can be targeted to specific sets of customers, and might herald the introduction of a new offering, or provide a unique service.

2: Unique offerings

Customers engage online with retailers that provide unique services online.

Offering an online class or special event can offer a much-needed “social” activity, while encouraging staying in the privacy of one’s own home.

Tying the online presentation to products for sale with handy links boosts sales as well as the retailers’ reputation.

Any retailer can offer a relevant online class, including flower arranging, lawn care, golf instruction, cooking lessons, makeup application, etc.

3: Expanding online and delivery options

Retailers that offer more stock online will reap more sales, and appeal to a broader customer base that may stick around long after social distancing mandates have disappeared.

Expanding the breadth of online offerings, including gift cards, lets customers support businesses 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

If shipping is a problem, curbside pickup has become one innovation that is likely to become part of everyday shopping. The convenience of calling ahead and picking up without leaving the car is addicting.

In addition, it may actually require some retailers to hire “runners” specifically to satisfy those customers.

Omnichannel or online retailers are well-positioned to deal with restrictive store hours but should always be alert to maintaining the best experience for customers.

The website experience should be straightforward and welcoming, so customers can shop and engage in a frictionless, easy way.

Engage the whole supply chain

The retailer-vendor relationship is also crucial during these uncertain times.

All of the supply chain is in uncharted territory, so continuous partner engagement is critical.

All links in the chain should be encouraged to provide the best customer experience for their customers, in ways that can be mutually beneficially for all partners, such as passing along special offers through finance partners or working with distributors to provide free shipping.

Those relationships will become particularly important as customers return to in-store shopping, as retailers rebuild their customer loyal bases and engage the newer customers who were attracted by the retailers’ digital presence.

Same-day service appeals to COVID-19-homebound shoppers

 

 

With COVID-19 as the latest driver for store closures, brick-and-mortar stores have had to get innovative to keep transactions flowing and compete against their born-online ecommerce counterparts.

It’s not simply a price game. Unique product selection and convenience and are differentiators that can position a brick and mortar as a go-to for shoppers staying home to curb the virus’ spread.

One convenience that’s a long time coming but potentially a game changer is same-day order fulfillment.

 

The shipping options spectrum

 
Retailers that sell items in store and online often offer traditional shipping, which can take several days to arrive at the customer’s doorstep. Adding insult to injury, in addition to the wait time, there’s also a charge for delivery.

Of course, many offer free in-store pick up, but that is often inconvenient.

Many a local retailer has lost a sale to Amazon for its Prime shopping service.

Same-day service perfectly fills that void for brick and mortars, and if the local pizza parlor can do it, it’s likely a department store can as well.

 

Reach more shoppers with flexible shipping

 
Same-day service not only endears retailers to their loyal customers at this time when few are venturing beyond their living room.

It also appeals to those too busy to go out shopping, as well as the elderly, or those who may be homebound or without transportation.

It’s also a lifesaver for businesspeople who may have to attend a core meeting at a moment’s notice.

A speedy delivery of a dress shirt and tie or black pumps is not only perceived by the recipient as a career saver, but also provides good will that converts into loyal customers and more sales.

And don’t discount the impulse buy as a driving factor for offering same-day delivery. Customers are just as likely to get cravings while shopping online as they are on the checkout line.

Offering a quick turnaround time from cart to doorstep lets retailers offer last-minute, quickly-delivered finds for buyers to add to their cart.
 

Shoppers are willing to cover the cost

 
It’s true, offering same-day delivery will add substantial operating costs. However, offering same-day shipping as an option with an extra cost positions a retailer as one that is serious about keeping up and offering the most convenient shipping methods to improve customer experience.

In 2016, McKinsey released a report that found 20 to 25 percent of consumers would pay significant premiums to receive their items on the same day. Groceries, small electronics, and automotive parts top the list of products consumers are willing to pay for fast delivery, with up to 45% willing to pay extra.

Same-day delivery isn’t new; Macy’s has offered it in several markets since 2015, for example. What is new is the demand for the service, which is growing.

And with COVID-19 keeping most shoppers at home, there can be higher adoption of same-day service, faster.

More customers want the convenience of delivery with the benefits of in-store shopping. The question is, will more retailers be willing to accommodate the customer with new, more efficient shipping methods?