Buy Online, Deliver From Store: Turning Stores Into Agile Distribution Centers

Speed, flexibility and convenience are today’s currency, now that one of the key decision points for shoppers is whether the retailer is able to deliver exactly where and when they want their package. At the same time, same-day delivery is becoming increasingly popular, partly due to Amazon raising the bar when it comes to fast deliveries. As a consequence, it has become extremely challenging for retailers to compete, especially when it comes to the dreaded last-mile.

Established retailers have traditionally managed their e-commerce operations separately from their stores, with online orders being handled at warehouses and fulfilment centers. However, they have come to realize that multi-channel is not enough anymore, and that in order to move to a true omni-channel model, they need to find new ways to leverage their existing network of physical stores so they can also benefit their e-commerce business.

Indeed, most retailers are now working to make the store a vital component of the omni-channel experience. For example, they are utilizing their stores by offering click-and-collect options and by enabling customers to return in-store any unwanted items that they purchased online. Another option is for retailers to pick orders in the store and ship them to the customer. In fact, according to recent survey data, this is the most popular method for stores to handle fulfillment of e-commerce orders.

Retailers benefit from using their stores as flexible and agile fulfillment centers, which are also closer to the final customer, in order to fulfill orders more quickly and to offer same-day deliveries without incurring exorbitant overhead costs. Customers also benefit from not having to drive to the store to pick up an item, and from being able to order big items such as furniture without worrying about fitting them into their car.

In an omni-channel environment, retailers have to understand that delivery services are an extension of their business. Consumers now have multiple touch-points with retailers and expect seamless interactions across all channels. They can order what they want, when they want, on whatever device they want, and have it delivered how they want.

In addition, by offering store delivery, retailers with a robust network of brick and mortar stores may find a viable way to compete with Amazon’s huge fulfillment network of distribution centers. The key lies in re-thinking and re-purposing their locations as agile distribution centers. If they implement the Buy Online Deliver From Store model efficiently, same-day and next day delivery could quickly become a reality for their customers – providing retailers with the convenience and speed they need to build customer loyalty and drive future sales.

Lior Sion

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