How Brands Are Using Stores To Optimize Same-Day Fulfillment
August 23, 2023
In an era characterized by the rapid rise of e-commerce and the increasing demand for instant gratification, brands are adopting novel strategies to stay relevant and competitive. Ecommerce brands look for innovative ways to meet the mounting pressure for speedy delivery and seamless customer experience. One emerging trend lies in an unlikely place: brick-and-mortar stores.
Rather than becoming relics in the digital age, physical stores are being repurposed to play an instrumental role in optimizing fulfillment processes and offering same-day delivery options to customers. This shift has been accompanied by the rise of omnichannel strategies, which aim to meet customers wherever they are, be it in-store, at home, or in their car picking up an order.
In this article, we'll:
- Dive into the mechanics of in-store fulfillment
- Explore case studies of brands successfully integrating this model
- Consider the implications for the future of retail
The stores of tomorrow aren't just about sales–they're becoming pivotal links in the supply chain. As Target's CEO Brian Cornell stated, "stores are vitally important and will continue to play a really important role to America as we go forward.”
Changing Consumer Expectations: The Demand for Speed and Convenience
Consumer expectations have evolved significantly over the years, with a growing demand for speed, convenience, and a seamless shopping experience. This shift is evident in the success of brands like Target, which has strategically expanded its same-day online offerings to include perishable grocery items. This move, while seemingly minor, has been key to the success of the brand, as it caters to the frequent shopping habits of consumers, particularly for groceries.
The Emergence of Store-Based Fulfillment
The concept of using stores as fulfillment centers involves leveraging the inventory of physical stores to fulfill online orders, effectively turning these stores into mini-distribution centers. This can help address one of the main reasons for cart abandonment in online shopping, which is the additional costs and wait times associated with shipping.
The rise of options like Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup has been significant, with 72.1% of the top 1000 retail chains offering BOPIS as of early 2022 and 52.5% offering curbside pickup/drive-up services for online orders. In fact, 2022 witnessed a 64% surge in BOPIS usage compared to the previous year. This is a stark contrast to pre-pandemic times when only 8.9% of these chains offered curbside pickup of online orders.
Technology’s Role in Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline Retail
Technology plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between online and offline retail, enabling brands to meet customers wherever they are–in-store, at home, or in their car for pickup. These methods showcase how the integration of different sales channels is crucial in today's retail landscape.
Aviator Nation stands as a testament to this integration. In late 2022, the brand harnessed technology to unveil its omnichannel fulfillment option, unlocking all its retail locations and inventory. This strategic move not only amplified product availability for online shoppers but also set the stage for the introduction of BOPIS in 2023.
This service will empower customers to collect their orders in-store, often bypassing the wait associated with shipping. Matthew Solusod, CX operations manager at Aviator Nation, emphasized the significance of this, stating, “Now we’re able to unlock all our retail locations and inventory. It gives a lot more availability for people shopping on the website.” This approach also ensures faster inventory turnover, making a wider range of products available to online shoppers
For other brands looking to implement a similar strategy, Lucky's integrated store locator tool provides an in-depth way to display all their stores–from big retailers to small boutiques. It shows customers detailed inventory amounts and product availability at each store. This empowers brands selling in third party retailers with the ability to use their own product inventory for same-day fulfillment or BOPIS with a 1-click integration.
Brands that can effectively leverage these trends are well-positioned to succeed in the evolving retail environment.
The Benefits: Faster Delivery, Reduced Costs, and Improved Inventory Management
Firstly, it allows for faster delivery of products. As Aviator Nation's experience shows, customers can often get their items faster with options like Buy Online, Pick Up In Store. By reducing the time to deliver for customers significantly, customers are more likely to buy and more often.
Additionally, it can lead to reduced costs. Fulfilling online orders in-store saves on shipping costs. For instance, if a customer near a specific store location places an order, that store can fulfill the item, saving on delivery costs. Target's experience also demonstrates this, with store pickup being 90% less costly than when a customer order is delivered from a warehouse.
This strategy can also lead to improved inventory management and turnover. One of the largest costs retailers and brands have is inventory getting too old, and then having to liquidate that inventory for a loss. By leveraging store inventory for online orders, retailers can churn through inventory quicker, ensuring that products don't sit idle on store shelves.
The Future of Store-Based Fulfillment with Lucky
Looking ahead, the trend of store-based fulfillment has the potential to significantly impact the future of retail. For brands without the luxury of their own brick-and-mortar outlets, Lucky provides a unique advantage. It allows these brands to leverage their wholesale network, effectively turning third-party retailers into extensions of their own stores. With a simple one-click integration, brands can utilize their product inventory for same-day fulfillment or BOPIS, offering a consistent and enhanced shopping experience to their customers. Offering BOPIS also can help reduce cart abandonment.
Additionally, the fast-paced nature of the retail industry, especially in sectors like apparel, means that inventory needs to be constantly updated to reflect the latest trends and seasons. Lucky empowers brands to expedite the sale of older inventory in stores, ensuring that products don't become outdated or irrelevant. This not only optimizes inventory management but also paves the way for introducing new products that resonate with current consumer preferences.
By leveraging innovative solutions like Lucky, brands can stay ahead of the curve and meet the evolving needs of their customers, ensuring their continued success in the competitive retail environment.
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