With gas prices at record highs, unending supply chain disruptions, and increased pressure to deliver e-commerce orders quickly, brands must get creative when it comes to reducing the strain of the final mile. If they aren’t careful, having the wrong processes and technology in place could cost them a fortune and hurt their customer relationships.
Luckily, omnichannel technologies can help reduce that burden by offering some “self-fulfillment” options. Here are five order fulfillment options that not only increase store revenue but also help offset final-mile costs.
While consumers shop online for the convenience of not having to go into a store, the tradeoff is that they have to wait a few days to receive their product. Enter curbside pickup. Curbside pickup allows customers to order their products online, get their items the same day, and they don’t even have to enter the store.
Curbside pickup blends the convenience of online shopping while also moving local store inventory off the floor. When foot traffic is low, it provides another way to encourage local shopping, keep store employees busy, and contribute to the store’s revenue goals. Plus, it offsets transportation costs as the consumer is the one doing their own “final-mile” delivery. While curbside pickup really took off in popularity during the pandemic, many consumers say they expect it to stay even as things get back to normal.
Buy Online, Pick-up in Store (BOPIS)
Similar to curbside pickup and part of the “click and collect” family, BOPIS allows customers to skip the delivery fees and wait times and pick up their item in the store. While they are in the store, the customer can try on the item, exchange it if they see a different color they like, or return it on the spot.
For the retailer, offering BOPIS is a great way to increase individual store revenue because 49% of shoppers say they buy additional items when picking up their BOPIS order. BOPIS is a win-win for retailers, and it helps increase order value as well as reduces transportation costs.
Ship-to-store does exactly as its name suggests. It allows a customer to purchase something from a brand’s online store and have the item shipped to their local store for pickup. These are typically items that the local store does not regularly keep in stock.
The perk for the consumer? Most ship-to-store options are free to the consumer as they must pick up the item in store. The perk for the retailer? Like with BOPIS, it is always a benefit when a customer walks through the front door, providing store associates with an upsell opportunity. (“This bag would look so great with those jeans you are picking up.”) Ship-to-store allows retailers to put some e-commerce orders on the same truck as the pallets they are sending to retail stores, both saving money and reducing carbon emissions.
Even when foot traffic is slow, brick-and-mortar stores can continue to bring in revenue with the right technology in place. With prebuilt workflows in an order management system, brick-and-mortar stores can easily double as micro-distribution centers to process e-commerce orders — protecting revenues, moving store inventory, preventing overwhelmed distribution centers, and keeping store associates busy. Stores are turned on as a node in the retailer’s distribution network, identifying what inventory is available, and sending local orders to be fulfilled by the individual store.
Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS)
While not technically part of the “final mile,” returns still contribute to high transportation costs for brands. Though they may be inevitable, returns don’t have to be a liability for retailers. In fact, handled correctly, returns can become a competitive advantage. Almost 80% of shoppers expect retailers to offer free returns shipping — which comes at a hefty cost for retailers.
Offering BORIS options alleviates some of the costs associated with the returns process. Plus, when the customer is in-store returning an item, there is a higher chance they will opt to exchange the item or make another purchase in store.
Pro tip: To seamlessly offer BORIS, retailers need to ensure they have easy access to cross-channel inventory and order information.
Optimizing the final mile in this economic climate is imperative for retailers. With the help of a dedicated order management system, retailers can offer a variety of omnichannel order fulfillment options that delight their customers, increase store revenue, and reduce strain on the final mile.
Kari Polson is the Sr. Marketing Manager at Deck Commerce, the leading order management system for direct-to-consumer retailers.
This article originally appeared in the May/June, 2022 issue of PARCEL.