Savvy retailers are breaking down the barriers between the digital and the physical high street by combining the benefits of both types of operation.
We’re starting to see the integration of brick-and-mortar stores with e-commerce offerings. At first, it was ‘click and collect’ – a service where customers could shop online and pick up their orders later from a store. Now it’s ‘ship-from-store’ – a model where the local store uses its stock to fulfill the order and arranges for home delivery.
But these changes aren’t just slight tweaks to the way retailers work – they bring a whole host of financial, brand, and customer service benefits too. Let’s take a look at the impact of ship-from-store and what the adoption of this service means for customers, delivery, and the retail industry as a whole.
As we briefly touched upon, ship-from-store is a type of fulfillment model that requires having both an online and physical storefront. Customers can order a product online, and have it shipped from a nearby store directly to them. In these instances, there are no warehouses or order fulfilment centres – everything is handled by the in-store team.
At an immediate glance, ship-from-store can be a lifeline for smaller, independent businesses that already have physical shops. But it’s not just these types of businesses that can take advantage of this setup – any business with a storefront can implement ship-from-store. Let’s dig a little deeper into the main benefits that this fulfilment model offers, for all types of businesses:
The most obvious benefit of the ship-from-store service is faster and cheaper delivery. By fulfilling orders from a local store it’s easier and quicker to get them to the customer. The reduction in distance means fewer miles on the clock, less pollution, and lower costs.
These efficiencies are a big deal when you consider that speed and cost of delivery have one of the biggest influences on whether a customer decides to buy online or not. It’s advantages like this that give ship-from-store retailers the extra edge in the competitive world of modern retail.
But it’s not just a case of practicalities – shipping your orders directly from local stores makes sense on paper too. Retailers pay huge rentals to maintain a presence on the high street with some shop owners stuck in property contracts that commit to them having a store in situ for years – whether they’re profitable or not!
Ship-from-store helps retailers balance the books by using the locations of their costly stores to their advantage. A store serving both walk-in customers and online orders can subside its high rental costs by offering goods to people both online and on the high street.
Ever since the advent of e-commerce, there’s been tension between physical stores and online sales. Rightly or wrongly, store staff often felt sales were being ‘stolen’ from them when customers chose to transact online rather than buy in-store.
But stores fulfilling ship-from-store orders often get recognition for the part they play in online sales. It means staff in stores feel part of the process whether it’s online or in person. What’s more, retailers operating a ship-from-store policy often count the online orders fulfilled by the store as part of their store targets!
Ship-from-store has a knock-on effect on a retailer’s ability to deliver too. For instance, fashion retailer Zara will ship goods directly from the nearest store if the product is out-of-stock in their distribution centre. This results in fewer lost sales thanks to out-of-stock issues on their website.
By sharing its inventory between stores and its e-commerce site, Zara can send goods to customers quicker, meet demand more often, and move stock to where it’s needed the most. Integrating their inventory and offering a flexible service means they’re better able to compete against bigger brands who might have more stock.
Whilst the benefits of ship-from-store speak for themselves, there are some challenges that this fulfiment model presents.
Not every retail business is suitable to use ship-from-store, especially those with distinctly separated retail channels that don’t have a shared inventory. A successful ship-from-store implementation requires being able to easily integrate different channels without causing major problems across the entire e-commerce system. Having siloed inventory systems would bring up all sorts of challenges and disruption.
For ship-from-store to work successfully, all retail channels need to have the flexibility and high levels of visibility already built in to account for different ways orders can be fulfilled. Otherwise, products can be easily lost, orders unfulfilled, and inventory not properly accounted for.
If you are considering if ship-from-store is the next move for your businesses, there are some questions you can ask ahead of implementation:
If you answer yes to the majority of the above, ship-from-store could absolutely benefit your business.
We’ve covered just a handful of ways ship-from-store is changing the face of retail and delivery. But the merging of online and offline retail isn’t just something to think about – it’s fast becoming the secret to survival on the high street. According to research the home delivery and click-and-collect market will double at the expense of purely in-store retailers by 2025. If you want to make sure your store sees tomorrow, you’ll need to supplement its trade with digital today.
And if you’re going to respond to these changes in consumer demand you are going to need the right tools – technology that will help you run a more responsive and efficient business in the future.
This is exactly where Maxoptra’s software comes in – our multi-drop route planner allows businesses to plan faster, more efficient deliveries to keep up with changing customer demands. Request a free demo of our multi-drop route planner to find out how you can take your business into the future.