Chain Store Age & IBM recently released a white paper on how retailers can better fulfill consumer needs by getting merchandise into their hands faster and easier than ever before. Here are some of the key takeaways:
“Customer expectations for the combined brand experience are higher than ever. For brands to keep up with the agility of their online competitors, traditional retailers need to make changes to efficiently and cost-effectively get merchandise into shoppers’ hands — all while delivering a consistent, positive customer experience.” But it’s not something that can be done overnight. Improving in-store fulfillment entails creating an operational foundation that effectively leverages a retailer’s store network, inventory, and staff.
“Among the biggest issues taking a toll on retailers’ efforts include:
- The Amazon Effect. Amazon has spent the past two decades optimizing fulfillment operations and perfecting the digital customer experience, while brick and mortar retailers played catch-up.
- A lack of insight into available inventory, especially within stores. The connected retail experience has conditioned consumers to expect a real-time, seamless shopping experience — regardless of the channel or touchpoint they use. Yet only 56% of retailers are planning inventory across both physical and digital channels. And disparate systems are causing more harm than good. In addition to managing multiple silos of information — which are often inaccurate, erroneous, and duplicated in other files — a lack of real-time insight into inventory levels makes it impossible for retailers to meet customer expectations, keeping them two steps behind their competition.
- Disparate omnichannel operations. Retailers are aware they need to offer more options to deliver merchandise faster. One way retailers are learning to compete, while satisfying consumer expectations for rapid access to online purchases, is to roll out buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) services.”
To keep up with the competition, retailers need to shorten the fulfillment window and improve customer satisfaction. These four steps will “help retailers improve fulfillment, increase efficiency, and drive sales:
- Get a clear and accurate view of inventory. To effectively compete, real-time insight into inventory levels is a must.
- Empower associates with mobile solutions. 81% of consumers expect a store associate to be able to ‘quickly and efficiently’ find an out-of-stock item that resides at another location, according to data from IBM.
- Transition stores into mini-distribution centers. Retailers are always looking for new ways to shorten delivery windows and fulfill orders even faster. In fact, retailers that focused on faster fulfillment doubled from 21% in 2015 to 40% in 2016, according to ‘Retail Supply Chain Execution 2016: Dancing In The Dark,’ a report from Retail Systems Research. More companies are beginning to leverage stores as mini-distribution centers. In doing this, retailers can localize fulfillment, keep up with accelerated customer demand and, most importantly, exceed customer expectations.” This new distribution network cuts shipping time to the consumer by enabling stores to offer hyper-local same-day delivery via “last mile” partners like Dropoff.
- “Establish delivery partnerships with third-party carriers. To streamline the store-based fulfillment process, retailers need to rethink how they are moving merchandise in between physical locations. It’s a process that requires specific skill sets and complex data analysis — processes that may fall outside of many companies’ expertise. More companies are turning to third party logistics companies (3PLs) to improve fulfillment initiatives and minimize delivery time and shipping costs. Whether partnering with national or regional carriers or local couriers, the goal remains the same: to minimize delivery time and shipping costs. Retailers are so bullish on these business partners that 86% of shippers said their 3PL partnerships contributed to improved customer service. Further, 73% of shippers reported that 3PLs offer new and innovative ways to improve logistics effectiveness, according to the ‘2017 Third-Party Logistics Study: The State of Logistics Outsourcing,’ from Capgemini Consulting.”
Dropoff is proud to be the 5-star rated same-day, last mile delivery partner for hundreds of retailers including Neiman Marcus, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Farfetch, and Whole Foods. Our feature-rich API integrates with retail systems to offer consumers a same-day delivery option directly at checkout. We pick up from local stores or warehouses and deliver at the most convenient time and location for consumers. Whether they prefer shopping online, over the phone, or in-store, Dropoff can make their delivery experience seamless and hassle-free.