Why is Ship from Store critical to omni-channel best practices?
Delivering a seamless, convenient, and consistent customer experience is what Omnichannel order fulfillment and returns are all about.
Today’s savvy shoppers want the option to choose products and fulfillment methods that work best for them. No matter where they shop, they expect immediacy, convenience, and simplicity.
Customers are likely to remain loyal to retailers who can deliver on their promises. To increase profitability, companies need to enable omnichannel fulfillment options while keeping costs and services in check.
As online commerce continues to grow, supply chain leaders and operations professionals in retail are rethinking the role of the store to optimize omnichannel fulfillment performance and better utilize inventory. With the ship from store model, retailers have been able to leverage store inventory.
What is Ship from Store?
Shoppers can utilize inventory at their store locations to fulfill orders through Ship from Store. The shipments are handled directly by the retail stores themselves, not by distribution centers belonging to customers. It can reduce shipping costs and can maximize inventory turnover. You can turn stores into active fulfillment centers through Ship from Store’s omnichannel solutions.
Benefits of Ship from Store
Online sales are rapidly replacing retail sales in stores. An eMarketer report predicts that online sales will account for 17.5 percent of global retail sales by 2021. Due to online sales growth, retailers will require additional fulfillment capabilities since customers will shop from their computers and mobile devices.
To stay competitive in an increasingly online market, they need a fulfillment strategy that encompasses store labor, inventory positioning, and exceptions. Ship from the store offers retailers the opportunity to balance customer services with costs, which can provide several key benefits, including:
- Fast and cheaper shipping: In a single-zone delivery method, inventory is kept closer to the customer, making delivery times shorter and transportation costs lower.
- Markdowns are less frequent: Companies will see more inventory throughout their locations if they ship from stores. With this, retailers with excess stock will fulfill orders rather than mark them down to get rid of them. Although that may increase transportation costs, selling at a total price will compensate for them.
- Companies will better utilize assets: The number of clearance items stores can keep on hand will be reduced as inventory turnover increases. As a result, physical stores and distribution centers can make better use of their space.
- Retailers can compete with online giants by shipping from stores. An integrated commerce approach facilitates the smooth and convenient completion of a purchase comparable to Amazon or eBay.
The steps to start shipping from a store are as follows:
- Inventory Management: A shipping from store operation begins with this first and probably most crucial step. The key is to keep an eye on real-time inventory levels, which allows you to order products before you run out. You need to know where the product is located at all times, as well as its quantity. Putting an order in and then realizing that it is out of stock is not a pleasant experience.
- Packaging: If you’re shipping from a warehouse or fulfillment center, you may need some packaging, but items sent from a store require minimal packaging.<Although you can still wrap products in a newspaper for shipping, it is much preferred to use plastic wraps, which can be easily stored and require little training before use. You can think of it as same-day delivery for food since the store is handling the shipment within hours, and a plastic wrap is enough to make the customer happy.
- Staffing: Generally speaking, we believe your staff is well-trained; however, things are set to change a bit. In addition to shipping from the store, you should train your employees to track inventory, package it, label it, and most importantly, provide customer service. You can pretty well bet they will encounter new types of inquiries. An online store’s long-term strategy should be to consolidate the requests of its customers across all channels. If not, it may result in confusion and delays. Documentation and communication are both essential for success.
- Implement new policies and procedures: Would an online customer be able to return a product at the store if they ordered it online? The question may arise as you begin shipping products from the store. There should be careful documentation of all the minor details, and you should educate all employees on the new policies and procedures. Customer frustration is high when an employee is unclear on policy and refuses to answer questions. What policies would you like to see in place while you’re at it? Customers should return and exchange products across all stores with a seamless, transparent return and replacement policy in place. Making even returns an enjoyable experience is essential.
Secondly, there is the issue of dealing with conflict. How do you handle a walk-in customer who chooses a product you just sold online? Inform the customer about similar products and communicate clearly and politely. The key is to do it gently. It also gives you the chance to mention online ordering without upsetting them.
- Test, test, test: Ensure you test your large-scale implementations before implementing them. Shipping from stores does result in higher sales, shorter delivery times, and lower costs. However, a ship-from-store is most beneficial to retailers who have tested the service first. Implement the system on one of your stores first, so you can grasp the ins and outs of the program and scale it to all your stores once you are comfortable with the system.
If handled properly, shipping from the store can be an excellent experience for both the customer and the retailer. Rather than being reactive, shipping from stores should be designed proactively. Despite appearing to be complicated, starting a shipping business from your store is relatively easy.
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