Not long ago, retailers were able to get away with offering in-store purchasing only. Today, consumer demand is high and delivery has become a necessity for anyone selling products online. Providing an exceptional retail delivery service customer experiences has never been more important for retailers, brands and eCommerce companies that want to increase their market share. The process of fulfilling large volumes of online retail products can be intricate and involve a series of important decisions regarding retail delivery practices, including delivery services and apps, delivery options, inventory management, eCommerce fulfillment and more.
This guide explains the key fulfillment models, trends, and technologies that drive retail fulfillment today.
– “Buy online, pick up in store” – Also known as “click and collect”, BOPIS gives consumers the option to purchase an item online at their convenience and pick it up in store whenever they want. The advantage of BOPIS is that an item can be picked up quickly and safely without having to linger in the store, and without having to wait around at home for a delivery.
“Buy online, return in store” is another must-have fulfillment model. Customers need to see a returns option to feel confident purchasing online. Otherwise, they will shop elsewhere. As online orders grow, businesses that sell online must be prepared for an increase in returns. The process must be easy for the customer, and a reverse logistics process must be in place to allow for returns easily on the side of the retailer. This is done most easily by a delivery app or platform.
Click and collect retail is when customers purchase an item online and are given the option to pick it up in the store. For businesses, offering click and collect gives customers the ultimate control over their time and the ability to collect when they desire. Stores offering click and collect must provide full transparency during the checkout process so that customers won’t arrive at the store before the products are ready to be picked up. This can often be handled by a delivery management app that can communicate between the store and customers, to let the latter know when their orders are ready.
A growing trend in recent years, crowdsourced delivery is a fulfillment channel that relies on contractors (through a particular company) picking up products from warehouses or stores and delivering them to buyers in their own vehicles.
Curbside pickup refers to the option for consumers to make a purchase online, drive to the store and have a store representative bring the products to their car. This is a relatively new fulfillment model that became more mainstream during the pandemic. Customers enjoy the convenience of curbside pickup and the safety aspects involved in the process (after all, they don’t even need to get out of the car!).
Some marketplaces and providers now offer last mile delivery as a separate, stand-alone service for businesses that prefer to use their own sites for ecommerce.
This is a retail store delivery service where retailers ship items straight from the store. This option requires advanced logistics orchestration for tracking inventory in each store and the availability of delivery providers in that area. Integrating data from providers with their point of sale helps retailers ensure that they have the real time data on inventory and pickup availability needed to provide accurate delivery options at checkout.
The last mile, also known as the ‘final mile’, is the final step in the delivery process, when a driver leaves the fulfillment / distribution center / store / warehouse and makes their way to the customer’s home. The last mile of delivery is the most complex part of the delivery process and therefore retailers turn to logistics companies to coordinate the entire process.
This is the process of fulfilling orders from checkout to delivery within a matter of hours. Offering an on demand delivery option provides a competitive customer service, but like other same-day shipping options, requires streamlined and automated processes for it to be both reliable and profitable. Price, too, is an issue, as the speed required of this delivery option makes it harder to send out multiple orders at the same time. For this reason, retailers usually offer on demand delivery at a higher price than scheduled shipping.
Same day delivery is the delivery of an item on the same day on which it was ordered. For more information, see our post on same day delivery challenges.
Purchases are prepared for delivery in advance within a certain delivery time frame (2-5 business days for example). The time frame is listed in advance on the website and is often a cheaper option than on demand delivery or retail click and collect. With scheduled delivery, a business can create optimized routes that increase delivery capacity and speed, saving time and resources.
Some retail delivery services offer a ‘white glove’ delivery option as part of a service. This can include over-the-threshold delivery, assembly and installation, unpacking goods in a customer’s home, removing old appliances or furniture (reverse logistics) and more depending on the relevant product. White glove delivery is an opportunity for a business to add delivery services that will take the customer experience to the next level and increase customer loyalty.
Many retailers want to be able to flexibly assign items on a demand-driven basis – for example, assigning to one general fleet, and then assigning spillovers to another fleet at peak times of day or season. This flexibility requires integration between the retailer’s ecommerce systems and all fleets, as well as flexible scheduling software that allows for customized, rule-based scheduling.
The cost per delivery is based on a variety of factors, including the cost of the product, and the cost to deliver. Of late, as demand for delivery has increased, delivery providers have had to raise shipping prices, forcing some businesses to increase their shipping price.
Retail delivery is getting more complex with more players joining the ecosystem on a constant basis. Retailers and logistics providers need to work together to guarantee efficient, cost-effective delivery that provides a competitive customer experience.
Bringg’s technology allows retailers to scale and keep up with the rapidly expanding, global eCommerce scene. Leaders in retail innovation use the unified delivery and fulfillment platform to provide flexible omnichannel experiences, including working with multiple fleets, on demand delivery, and curbside pickup. This modular approach enables a wide variety of delivery and pickup options that improve the customer experience while saving on operational costs. For more information, visit bringg.com/retail.