Ship from store is a fulfillment technique that uses in-store inventory to fulfill customer orders. Usually, these customer orders are online purchases, but they can be from a variety of sources. For example, an order can be placed directly from social media sources (social selling), by telephone, another store location, voice commerce, a marketplace like Amazon, or a mobile app. Regardless of the order source, ship from store means retail store stock is used to help fulfill orders.
As a fulfillment method, it’s important to retailers for many reasons.
Take a quick look at the infographic. Visually, it shows the process flow of a typical ship from store order fulfillment process. As management systems go, ship from store is straightforward, easy to understand, and has an immediate impact on the business.
While it’s easy to think that this issue is purely one for the operations team to resolve, it’s important to take a broader perspective. Retail is all about selling merchandise that customers want and doing so in a way that improves the experience for shoppers. A positive experience entices customers to come back for more. Much of retailing has moved online—a shift accelerated by the pandemic. Notably, retail ecommerce grew 27.6% worldwide in 2020 (eMarketer Dec. 2020). As such, this puts a renewed focus on fulfillment centers to improve efficiency, speed up the pick, pack, & delivery process, and reduce the cost of shipping products. True, this all points to the supply chain side of the business.
However, including brick-and-mortar stores into the order fulfillment equation means the entire retail organization is now engaged in this improvement cycle. It isn’t just about the operations folks getting their act together. It’s about the entire unified retail organization taking up the mantle and making improvements together. This is both for a positive customer experience and to improve your organization’s effectiveness in the market overall.
There’s a solid case for a retailer to leverage all its capabilities, resources, and inventories regardless of location. So ship from store makes sense. But where and how do you get started?
First, take stock of what your needs are. If your retail organization has six or more locations, then you probably have a substantial amount of inventory and dollars distributed in the field. This can be either a blessing or a curse if you don’t use it effectively. A quick look at the details of the ship from store solution will spur ideas.
In many ways, it’s surprising all retailers aren’t already using ship from store as a core order fulfillment delivery method. It simply makes sense. It isn’t just about providing a unified commerce solution or system. This is about truly unifying your business as a retailer. It’s about making sure you’re running an efficient and impactful business. It is about using all the tools and resources at your disposal to offer the best possible customer experience that helps your business thrive.
If your organization isn’t already using ship from store for your order fulfillment, consider it carefully. As an example, the right vendor can have a system operating within a few weeks flat at a price point that you can’t afford not to consider. Ship from store is here to stay for those retailers who will prosper through the next few years of renewed growth.
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