One of the most significant innovations from the pandemic years was the increase in demand for last-mile delivery from every business and product category. To stay safe and stay home, consumers began ordering grocery delivery, takeout delivery, clothing purchases from department stores, and shopping for anything they needed almost exclusively online.
Although storefronts are now open and operating in-person once more, online shopping remains as popular as ever, making it essential for brick-and-mortar storefronts (department stores included!) to adapt and make their products more readily accessible.
What is Ship from Store?
Ship from Store (or Deliver from Store) is a method of fulfillment in which a brick-and-mortar retail store handles online orders, removing warehouses and fulfillment centers from the shipping process. For businesses with several storefront locations across the country, like department stores, this can save a lot on shipping time and shipping costs, as products can ship to customers from the nearest retail location.
How It Works
The Ship from Store process is very similar to a standard fulfillment process, but it all takes place at the retail store:
- A customer places an order online
- The nearest retail store receives the order and manages the fulfillment process (pulling product from inventory, staging, packing, and preparing shipment)
- The store ships the product to the customer
- The customer receives the order much more quickly than if the products had to go through a fulfillment center first
Benefits of Ship from Store
The fact that Ship from Store has remained a widespread practice among retailers even beyond the pandemic lockdown speaks volumes beyond customer experience, as it has proved beneficial on both sides of the transaction. Here are five ways Ship from Store benefits retailers:
1. Faster Shipping Times
The most obvious benefit of Ship from Store is much faster order fulfillment. Online shoppers place a high value on rapid shipping, expecting orders to arrive within a few days of their purchase. Since products ship to customers from the nearest retail location, they can expect to receive their product as soon as the next day!
2. Decreased Fulfillment Expenses
As a retailer providing Ship from Store, your business also benefits from lowered costs for fulfillment. Shipping products directly from stores, especially department stores, capitalizes on in-store inventory and customer proximity, which can save businesses a lot of money on shipping costs and storage space.
3. Increased Sustainability
Ship from Store is a sustainable logistics solution for making your fulfillment process more eco-friendly. With fewer customers driving to the store and fewer large trucks moving products between warehouses and fulfillment centers, Ship from Store reduces carbon emissions and can significantly reduce a business’s carbon footprint.
4. Cycle Perishable Inventory
Retailers whose products have a limited shelf life or require refrigeration run the risk of disposing of unsold products when they don’t get enough foot traffic at their brick-and-mortar locations. When your storefront inventory is your e-commerce inventory, you now have two streams through which product flows out of your store, making it easier to keep perishable products on the move.
5. Seamless Customer Experience
Ship from Store expands your retail experience into the e-commerce world, reaching customers who may not otherwise connect with your brand. Consider potential customers who don’t live within close proximity to a department store, for example: With Ship from Store, it’s an entirely new, untapped market! This is an excellent opportunity to explore omnichannel fulfillment and treat e-commerce as an extension of your brand rather than a separately operating business.
Deciding if Ship from Store is Right for You
Ship from Store isn’t for every business. If you don’t have a large spread of storefronts with ample storage space, maintaining inventory and shipping out to nationwide customers may be difficult. It also requires in-store employees to be trained in fulfillment to ensure no hiccups in the online shopping experience.
That said, with the demise of malls and department stores across the globe and post-pandemic customers preferring to shop online, all retailers should consider whether Ship from Store could work for them. If you have a physical storefront or chain of stores for your brand, Ship from Store is a great way to expand your reach. You should calculate warehouse space and storage capacity required to keep up with both online and in-person orders, as well as your current fulfillment expenses, and compare those to what you can expect from implementing a Ship from Store method.
You also don’t need to isolate your fulfillment strategy to a single shipping method. Ship from Store often works best with omnichannel fulfillment. Using an omnichannel fulfillment plan, online customers close to a storefront can utilize Ship from Store while others can still shop your e-commerce store through more standard shipping methods. The key is having a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that can forecast inventory across storefronts and warehouses and determine where the ideal starting point is for last-mile delivery.
How Ship from Store Works with Third-Party Logistics
Many 3PL providers claim they can service brick-and-mortar retail but ultimately do not understand the differences between retail needs and e-commerce needs. Because of the complexity of a retail supply chain, fulfillment partners need to present a flexible and dynamic solution that can handle an omnichannel fulfillment strategy.
Our retail fulfillment process is designed to handle any retail volume for any product category: ambient, grocery, cold chain, frozen, consumer electronics, and more! Our logistics software gives you cloud-based inventory visibility across Ship from Store and warehouse locations, making it easy to determine where to ship products from and where to replenish inventory.
Ship from Store is often where brick-and-mortar retailers begin their e-commerce journey, but your logistics operations need to keep pace as your online presence scales. Smart Warehousing is your one-stop shop for fulfilling both retail and e-commerce, so you don’t need to outsource to multiple fulfillment providers to meet increasing demand. Our warehouses can quickly fill in the gaps where you don’t have nearby storefronts, guaranteeing 1-2 day domestic shipping regardless of where the customer is located and where the product starts from.
Are you ready to experience the Smart Warehousing difference? Tell us a bit about your fulfillment needs to request a quote from one of our consultants!