The ship-from-store trend has been generating a huge amount of buzz in recent months. Large retailers, like Walmart, Best Buy and Gap, are shipping online orders from stores close to their shoppers, rather than from distant warehouses. Large retailers are able to realize several benefits by shipping from the stores such as saving money on shipping costs and improving customer satisfaction by getting products into their hands faster.
For example, Best Buy recently launched a 50 store pilot ship-from-store program and eBay reported that ship-from-store has saved the company 4 million orders from out-of-stock inventory. And Amazon is building distribution warehouses closer to customers to reduce shipping costs and, as a result, the company is increasingly using its own delivery trucks rather than UPS or FedEx. In fact, recent reports have warned that package delivery services should start to worry as the ship-from-store trend grows and merchants take shipping into their own hands.
It’s clear that the ship-from-store model works well for big box retailers with multiple locations and store footprints on a national scale. But, how can small to mid-sized businesses (SMB) leverage ship-from-store to their advantage?
Many small online and multichannel merchants no longer or never intend to have a physical store front, but they have still been able to adapt the ship-from-store model to fit the unique needs of their business. They have applied the concept to third-party fulfillment and drop shipping operations to allow them to ship from the nearest warehouse or fulfillment center rather than the nearest store.
Order management systems can help small retailers determine the nearest warehouse location to a certain customer in order to streamline the inventory management and shipping processes. SMBs are then able to experience similar benefits of ship-from-store as large retailers. These include preventing the need to have duplicate inventory in a centralized warehouse or to store inventory in-house, managing inventory across multiple sales channels, reducing shipping time and related costs, and improving overall customer satisfaction.
Lizza recently spoke with Multichannel Merchant Senior Content Manager Tim Parry about this topic at IRCE 2013, and you can view a video of our conversation here.