You started by converting your business model from brick and mortar store to an omnichannel. Just ran a successful marketing campaign and already started receiving orders, now what?
Shipping makes everything you do tangible to your customers and is without question the primary business function that puts the products you sell into customers’ hands. It’s also something that can have a huge impact on customers’ behavior.
A common misconception about an online store is its requirements for a large scale warehouse and logistics. This is probably right for large scale companies or perhaps well established online stores but for omnichannel retailers this is incorrect. Shipping from stores is considerably more efficient and a better experience for the end consumers.
Ship-from-store strategies make the shipping faster and less expensive. When orders are sourced closer to the customer, delivery times shrink and with single-zone delivery transportation, costs are reduced.
Secondly, it allows you to remain competitive with e-commerce giants. Next-day and same-day delivery times have become customer experience expectations. Ship from store can help omnichannel retailers effectively compete with other online marketplaces, and most importantly, help meet their customers’ expectations, leading to stronger-than-ever customer revenue streams.
While shipping from a store can be easily identified as cost-effective, on the contrary, it’s setup can be quite complicated. Direct delivery from the store requires a whole new approach to inventory. At the most basic level, retailers must know exactly what’s in their stores, then be able to accurately convey that information to the online shopper
Step 1) Inventory Management:
The first and perhaps the most important step in starting your shipping from store operations. The key is real-time inventory which allows you to track stock level changes and order products well before you run out. At any given moment you should know exactly where the product is located and at what quantity. It is not a good experience if an order is placed and turns out the item is out of stock.
OTO SaaS simple integration scopes through the order as received and gain real-time inventory information to locate the item at the nearest available store and would be on its way to the customer in 2 hours.
Step 2) Packaging:
The fun starts here, while shipping from fulfillment centers or warehouses can require some kind of packaging, this requirement is very minimal in case of shipping from store operations.
While you still cannot ship products by wrapping them in a newspaper, a more preferable way is having plastic wraps, which are easy to store and requires minimum space and training before implementing. Think about it as food delivery, as shipping from the store is being handled in matter of hours by OTO, a plastic wrap is enough to surprise the customer by delivering it on the same day.
Step 3) Staffing:
We really believe that you already have a well-trained staff, but things are about to change a bit. While shipping from the store is made easy by OTO, you still need to train the employees on inventory tracking, packaging, labeling, and most importantly customer service as pretty sure occasionally they will have to handle new types of inquires:
Returns and refunds for online purchases
The long term strategy of an online store is to be able to consolidate customers’ requests across all channels. All the processes should be well documented and communicated, if not, it can lead to unwanted confusion and delays.
Step 4) Update your policies and processes:
Imagine a customer ordering online wants to return the product at the store, is there a process at a place for such a scenario?
This is one of the questions that may arise while you start your shipping products from the store. All the minor details have to be well written down in advance and employees need to be familiarized with the new policies and processes. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than a store employee who is unclear on policies and thus won’t entertain requests
While you’re at it, what policies do you want in place? Seamless, clear returns and replacement policy is important- you want to allow customers to return and replace their products across any store. Find ways to make even returns a pleasant experience.
Also, consider how you’ll handle conflict. If a walk-in customer picks a product that you just sold online, how do you solve it? Communicate clearly and politely to the customer and point them in the direction of similar products. Doing it gently is key because it also gives you a chance to tell them about online ordering without making them upset.
Step 5) Test, test, test
Don’t just implement something on a large-scale without testing it first. Yes, ship-from-store can result in higher sales, faster delivery times, and lower costs, but ship-from-store is most fruitful for retailers that have tested it first.
Before large scale implementation, have your employees and their families order a few items, next is to implement on one of the stores and once you grasp the in’s and out’s scale it to all your stores and enjoy the sales metrics.Conclusion:
Done well, shipping from the store can be one of the best experiences for the customer and the retail altogether. The key is to be proactive rather than reactive in designing the shipping from store operations. While starting shipping operations from your store can seem a bit complicated, in reality, it is not that hard.
OTO a SaaS provider is the largest integrator for logistics services in MENA. We enable our retailers to fulfill and deliver their e-commerce orders from the nearest available physical store/warehouse to the customer.
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