Great customer service is a cornerstone of the retail world but it’s taking on new meaning thanks to omnichannel retailing. In this new world, the lines between online and in-person shopping are becoming more and more blurred, especially with an approach called Ship From Store. Now you can ship products to customers directly from designated retail stores, which helps increase sales and customer satisfaction. You’ll also fulfill orders faster at lower cost, and gain the opportunity to move slower inventory in certain areas.
To be successful, you’ll need the right technology, solid business rules, clear processes for your staff and the right shipping logistics. The payoff? The opportunity to grow your business, stay competitive and blow your customers’ expectations away. Learn about 5 key things to consider to help you get started.
Ship From Store is about integrating to save the sale
Consider this scenario: while shopping in Vancouver, Amanda found a pair of shoes she loved. But her size was out of stock, so she left disappointed — and the retailer lost the sale. If the company had a Ship From Store solution it could have used stock from a store across town to fulfill the order. Amanda would receive her shoes faster than if they had to be shipped from the warehouse in Toronto. And the retailer would reduce shipping costs.
A Ship From Store strategy ensures customers can access your full inventory, regardless of whether their desired item is in a distribution centre, retail location or at a third-party supplier. It means you can ‘save the sale’ when one channel is out of stock. It also enhances your customers’ satisfaction because they:
- Get the product they want.
- Know that returns can easily be made at the store.
- Receive faster and potentially cheaper delivery with shipping from the closest location.
- Enjoy a consistent brand experience across all channels.
Shoppers aren’t the only ones to benefit. According to a recent global study by Forrester Research, 47% of retailers reported that their Ship From Store program resulted in higher online revenue.
Before you start a Ship From Store strategy
Before you implement a Ship From Store program, there are 5 factors you’ll want to consider to help you develop your omnichannel strategy.
1. Establish a single view of your inventory
You need one place where you can see your entire inventory across all locations: distribution centres, retail outlets and third-party suppliers. A distributed order management system will provide you with this visibility. It will allow you to accept orders from any channel, whether it’s online, in-store or by phone, and help you manage and optimize how you fill your orders.
2. Decide which stores will offer Ship From Store
Be strategic when you pick the locations that will offer Ship From Store. Some might be better suited than others. Keep in mind that a Ship From Store location will need space to store extra inventory. Staff will need to spend time fulfilling orders and printing shipping labels. And for stores in high-traffic tourist areas, you may want sales clerks focussing solely on in-store sales. We can work with you to identify strategic locations to meet your business requirements.
3. Create order routing policies
Within your distributed order management system, establish business rules that will guide how you fulfill orders. These include considerations like:
- How to fulfill orders based on the location of your customer and your inventory.
- Your inventory availability – Consider whether you have a picture of your available inventory throughout your network. Determine if a customer can purchase from any channel regardless of whether the item resides in a warehouse, a retail location or with one of your suppliers.
- Can orders be split – If an order contains multiple items and not all of the items are available at one store, do you want to ship the order in multiple shipments from different stores?
- Store labour vs. shipping costs – Consider whether you have a way to measure the labour costs involved in fulfilling orders for each Ship From Store location. These costs are closely tied to the profitability of your program.
- Prioritization of rules – Decide how to prioritize order fulfillment. Will orders be routed strictly by store and customer location or do you want to assign priority to certain Ship From Store locations based on their efficiency?
4. Clarify who gets credit for a sale
For sales that happen online, but are fulfilled in-store, you’ll need to establish a policy on who gets the revenue recognition for the sale — the online channel or the retail location.
5. Determine staff priorities
Ship From Store also has an impact on staff processes and priorities. For example, you’ll need to decide if:
- In-store staff should tend to customers first or to fulfillment duties.
- If Ship From Store mode is always on or just during non-peak times.
Staff will also need to be trained on the order management system and how to pack, label and prepare items for pickup.
Shipping is a key success factor for your omnichannel strategy
Getting the shipping logistics right is essential for launching a successful Ship From Store program and Canada Post is here to help. To Ship From Store using Canada Post shipping services, you’ll need to have these components in place:
- Create shipping labels using Canada Post web services (recommended)
Each Ship From Store location will need to print shipping labels, either using your shipping system or by integrating label printing into your point-of-sale system or web-based application. While it is recommended that you already use web services, you can still implement Ship From Store if you don’t.
- Arrange parcel pickup service from Canada Post
Request scheduled or on-demand pickups online. Our pickup network is extensive and always expanding, but we may not be able to offer pickup at every one of your locations. Determine parcel pickup availability.
- Create shipping labels for your returns using web services
Integrate returns web services into your shipping system. Consider whether you want your returns to go back to the store or to your distribution centre. Watch for our upcoming blog post on key technical pointers on implementing Ship From Store using web services.
Questions? Need help getting started? Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about our e-commerce solutions and how we can help you deploy your omnichannel strategy.