Ship-from-store offers retailers and brands an innovative way to gain a competitive edge.

Recently, Metapack released a whitepaper looking at the competitive advantage bricks-and-mortar retailers could gain by ‘Putting Stores Back to Work‘ through a ship-from-store model.

Ship-from-store is a fulfilment model which allows brands and retailers to ship orders directly from their stores to consumers. By using this method, retailers are able to provide a fully omnichannel retail experience.

We’re seeing increased consumer demand for tailor-made delivery options to suit every lifestyle and budget, from click-and-collect to same-day delivery. Implementing a ship-from-store strategy could give bricks-and-mortar retailers an edge over their competition.

Improve the customer experience with ship-from-store

If retail stores are closing at a rate of knots and the high street is doomed to become a barren wasteland, why bother having a store at all?

As we’ve explored before through Brightpearl and Endless Gain, the high street (and the bricks and mortar stores therein) aren’t as doomed as some headlines might have you believe.

In-store shopping is still an essential part of the consumer experience, especially for tactile items that customers want to touch and see before they buy. Things like furniture, large appliances and electronics all demand careful consideration.

Retailers are overcoming this by implementing a ‘try before you buy’ returns model. Brightpearl explores the returns model in this report about the returns tsunami.

The model can work well for smaller, lower-value items like clothes and décor, but may not be a good fit for your new sofa, fitted kitchen or garden furniture. For these big-ticket items, the in-store experience is part of the retail journey. Even if the purchase is eventually made online, the option to view the items and get a feel for them before purchase is essential.

For retailers of large, awkward-to-deliver items, scrapping the bricks-and-mortar store could spell trouble for sales. Even if a high percentage of sales are actually completed online, today’s buyers naturally take an omnichannel approach:

  1. A word-of-mouth recommendation via social media
  2. A Google search for the goods they want
  3. A visit to the local store to feel the texture of the carpet or check the colour of the bathroom fittings
  4. Display ads popping up over the next few weeks
  5. All leading to branded searches and, finally, an online purchase.

Yes, this sale was made online. But it may not have been made at all, had the buyers not seen and touched the goods in a physical store.

Efficiency gains from the ship-from-store model

We can see how bricks-and-mortar stores are still a key touch point in the buyer’s journey. But why fulfil online orders from the store?

First, where do we draw the line between an online order and a purchase made in-store? If the customer browses in-store, goes home to make a purchase but opts for click-and-collect delivery, is that an online purchase or an in-store one? How about if the customer narrows down the search online, goes in-store to get a feel for the product, makes the purchase there & then, but requests home delivery for the item?

‘In-store’ and ‘online’ are no longer two distinct entities (they aren’t even two entities. Is in-store your own brand store, the store of a retailer, or a concession within a larger store? Are online sales made via your eCommerce store, reseller sites or online marketplaces? What about sales made through social media?)

All the consumer sees (or all they should see, at least) is a single unified brand. Modern retailers work across channels to enhance the experience, cost & convenience for customers.

Ship-from-store should be just another aspect of that unified omnichannel experience.

“This hunger for fast delivery and the importance for retailers of meeting delivery promises creates complexity, but it also delivers opportunity for them to better utilise their physical store networks, particularly as they are close to where the consumers are”

from the MetaPack whitepaper:  Ship From Store: Putting stores back to work

The consumer’s in-store experience should work with their demand for convenient delivery options. By using stores as miniature fulfilment hubs (effectively multiple depots), retailers improve delivery speed and flexibility, and by fulfilling orders locally with in-store stock, retailers also make efficiency savings.

As there is less reliance on a small number of large-scale warehouses, the cost of storing and transporting goods is cut considerably.

If you’re a retailer and are considering adopting a ship-from-store model, but don’t know how your going to manage your deliveries, collections, orders, drivers and vehicles effectively, then why not schedule an online demo of Stream and learn how our software makes that easy.