Stein Mart’s Ecommerce Launch Faces Fulfillment Hurdles

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Stein Mart, an off-price specialty store chain,  announced the launching of an ecommerce site in an effort to  expand its customer base and offer customers 24-hour access, according to a press release.

The ecommerce site is expected to have a significant selection of what its bricks-and-mortar stores have along with unique online-only offerings, according to the press release.

When asked how Stein Mart could successfully use fulfillment with the launch of its online store, David Himes, an independent consultant for ecommerce and direct commerce operations, said it appears Stein Mart is outsourcing fulfillment to eBay Enterprises in  Martinsville, Va.

Himes said that by outsourcing fulfillment to an experienced provider, Stein Mart has the opportunity to provide the customer with a good experience, but it is not being mixed up with the current store distribution.  So in some cases Stein Mart gets to treat its ecommerce store as its own unique store.

What does Stein Mart need to adapt its fulfillment processes to omnichannel? Himes said the key things to implementing omnichannel is mostly about marketing, but you have to have certain things in place to execute an ominchannel strategy.

“You have to have a uniform product information system and you have to have a robust very granular inventory management system,” said Himes. “It’s both technical, cultural and a training change for all the people, it is a such a smart strategy for Stein Mart to outsource like this.”

Currently Stein Mart has limited inventory online now, but plans to include additional SKUs in the future, according to the press release.

According to Himes, the fact that there are only some merchandise overlap with the stores and unique items for online, suggests it is trying to set up a multichannel strategy, but Stein Mart is not trying to make it transparent on all of these channels.

“I think they’re taking a very sound strategy for as big a business as they are,” said Himes.  “They need to be out there, they are not trying to reinvent the wheel with fulfillment.”

The impetus of opening an ecommerce site for Stein Mart was to expand its customer base and offer customers 24-hour access to the shop whenever it is convenient, according to a press release.

Customers will be able to see the retailer’s fashion,  brands, prices and develop a wish list of favorite items,  view the latest coupons and connect with the store through social media at its online store, according to the press release.

Stein Mart joins a list of traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers that have expanded to include an online store including clothing and accessories retailer H&M,  launched an ecommerce store in August and discount retailer TJ Maxx where there are reports of an opening of its own online store by the end of 2013.



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