With the USPS increasing its shipping rates for retailers, it was obvious those companies would be seeking alternative sales strategies to control costs without hurting the customer experience. Omnichannel is quickly becoming that solution: Retail brands with a brick-and-mortar network are beginning to test strategies to replace traditional shipping with alternative fulfillment methods.
And these aren’t merely the next best option: Brands are finding that a well-designed omnichannel strategy can not only mitigate increasing shipping costs, but it can increase shipping efficiency and even improve the customer experience.
According to a report from Kibo, 43 percent of shoppers prefer in-store pickup as their main fulfillment method for online orders, even more than shipping directly to their home. Meanwhile, 60 percent of shoppers will go to a competitor if a retailer doesn’t offer the fulfillment method they prefer.
So it’s not enough to simply build an alternative to traditional shipping. Retailers need a comprehensive omnichannel experience.
Two Sides To The Omnichannel Coin
As Retail Customer Experience notes, there are two basic fulfillment strategies under the omnichannel umbrella: Ship-from-store and in-store pickup.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why offering each to customers is so important. For shoppers, ship-from-store looks a lot like traditional shipping: They place an order and it arrives at their door. But retailers benefit by moving those products much, much closer to customers before they’re sent out for delivery, since retail chains are often much closer to shoppers than large distribution centers managing retail orders.
But order and inventory management are critical to a successful ship-from-store model — even occasional errors in managing and tracking orders and fulfillments will frustrate customers and worsen their brand experience. For effective ship-from-store selling, infrastructure is key.
In-store pickup is even better for retailers, since there’s no shipping involved: Shoppers simply make their orders online and then pick them up at a retail location. This also increases foot traffic into brick-and-mortar locations, which increases sales opportunities. But some shoppers simply won’t want to make the trip, and given the choice between waiting at home or trekking off to the store to pick up their order, they will always opt for the easier option.
In any case, retailers will have build a reliable, efficient infrastructure that can manage all of these alternative fulfillment methods, and without losing track of inventory in the process. The pressure is on.
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