PFSweb Testing Mall Fulfillment Solution with Partner Simon Properties

PFSweb is testing a new solution for fulfilling ecommerce orders for retailers and brands from local malls, hoping that in the near future multiple orders from different merchants can be consolidated and delivered to the same customer.

The initial deployment will be in February at a mall owned by partner Simon Properties in Fort Worth, TX, with plans to expand to between 6-12 markets by peak season 2019, covering up to 30% of the U.S. population.

RetailConnect will collect online orders transactions at centralized locations in Simon malls to facilitate fulfillment of ship from store orders, eventually expanding to encompass same-day delivery, in-store pick-up, curbside delivery and centralized pickup. The solution is targeting mid-tier retailers without the scale to fulfill locally on their own, as well as larger organizations.

PFSweb handles induction of orders into the networks of FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service for local delivery, offering economies of scale that reduce shipping costs. It’s similar to the model employed very successfully by Deliv at hundreds of mall locations through property partners including Simon, except Deliv uses its own network of private couriers.

Retailers can also use PFSweb’s OMS and WMS capabilities or their existing partners to process online orders, and its fulfillment hardware for back-of-the-store operations including a pick-to-light system.

“We’ve gone all the way out to the edge of the supply chain at the mall, and shrunk a warehouse delivering 200,000 lines per day and fit it inside a closet,” said Chris Cameron, vice president of global sales and products at PFSweb.

Cameron said the long-term strategy is to support high demand scenarios such as the end-of-year peak holiday season as well as other holidays and promotions throughout the year, relocating inventory to malls in markets the retailer has identified. It can also support pop-up stores in mall kiosks and vacant spaces.

“We can move inventory to a RetailConnect location at truckload vs. retail prices, and allow them to have an expanding operation” he said. “We can also get economies of scale with multiple retailers in a single mall location.” Cameron added RetailConnect will have “depots” at Simon malls, spaces between 1,000 and 4,000 square feet located just off the receiving docks where inventory can be stored.

In addition to retailers, Cameron said PFSweb is looking to partner with warehouse-as-a-service providers and even other 3PLs to create greater local inventory storage capacity for mall fulfillment operations, especially as the same-day delivery piece kicks into gear in 2020.