In a commerce landscape where 83% of Australian consumers expect to be given the option of same day shipping, flexible fulfillment is the key to maintaining a positive end-to-end customer experience. And with a land mass the sixth largest in the world, yet a population outside the top 50, Australian retailers face a unique challenge in order to keep their customers happy.
While the traditional approach of shipping from a central distribution centre or warehouse has its benefits – economies of scale, dedicated staff, easier tracking of KPIs – this fulfillment model can be ill-equipped to meet the demands of the modern consumer. Particularly true in a country like Australia, where distribution centres can be thousands of miles from the ordering customer.
Recognising this issue, leading omni-channel retailers are leveraging the benefits of in-store fulfillment to get orders in their customers’ hands faster. Ship-from-Store leverages the inventory held in store networks, with sales assistants carrying out the tasks traditionally held by warehouse staff – picking, packing and dispatch. This model significantly speeds up delivery times, as well as reducing transport costs and facilitating multi-channel returns.
Where a customer would traditionally have had to wait the best part of a week for their order to travel from one side of the country to the other, the in-store fulfillment model allows the order to be shipped directly from their local store. Similarly, if the customer decides to return the product, they no longer have to front costly long-distance courier fees or wait another week to be refunded, and can simply return to the same local store that the product was shipped from. This, at its core, is customer experience management.
The same model also opens up the possibility of Click & Collect, where the customer can pick up the order from the store itself. A study by Temando found that 82% of shoppers want the option to Click & Collect, but just 50% retailers provided the option. This in itself, presents an opportunity for retailers to take competitive advantage of those who are not catering to consumer convenience, satisfying the need for instant retail gratification.
To ensure this model of fulfillment is successful, infrastructure needs to be in place to manage processes. The answer to omni-channel managers prayers comes shining through the informational clutter in the form of Order Management Systems (OMS). These integrated systems monitor stock levels in each store, provide a way to expose this stock in the online store and ensure adequate stock is on hand for highstreet shoppers.
In an increasingly competitive commerce environment, successful order management is fast becoming the biggest differentiator between businesses. Retailers with the edge are using order management systems to streamline customer fulfillment and maximise loyalty, while also increasing efficiency, consistency and reducing costs.
eWave’s client, Platypus Shoes, has leveraged this technology to unify warehouses and retail stores into a connected multi-channel system. Customers have unprecedented inventory access to every pair of shoes available in the country, regardless of where they are stored. By integrating Magento 2 with Apparel 21 and Temando, Platypus offer their customers a streamlined shopping experience with faster shipping and more carrier options. With Platypus’ specially designed click and collect, click and dispatch, and multi-channel returns capabilities, customers are given a richer experience from the point of purchase all the way to fulfilment.
While 63% of consumers want hyper-local delivery, only 34% of Australian Retailers are ready to support it. Technological development has meant that fulfillment has evolved from a necessary process into an opportunity for progressive retailers to gain a competitive advantage. Ultimately, the expectation of tomorrow’s online shopper is going to create a demand for more and more convenience, and retailers that provide this in the form of fulfillment flexibility will reap the benefits.
eWave are partnered with Temando, Fluent Retail, and MCOM – industry leaders in order management and omni-channel fulfillment. Talk to an eWave specialist to find out how we can help your omni-channel strategy.
Founder and Managing Director of eWave, Fatima is a leading technologist in the commerce space. Backed by a history of brand transformations and business results, Fatima is known industry-wide for technical ability and future-focused entrepreneurship. Follow her work here or connect with him on LinkedIn.