By Bill Thayer, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Fillogic
Father’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re a retailer, you’re probably looking forward to the expected jump in sales. But now that more people are buying online, there are a few things to consider and prepare for.
Customers expect that their products will be delivered sooner than ever—in just one or two days—and delivered for free. Retailers have had little choice but to meet customers’ demands to stay competitive, working around the clock to get products shipped on time and eating the cost while they’re doing it.
If you’re struggling to meet customers’ expectations for fast delivery times, there is some bad news and some good news.
The bad news is that customers post-pandemic will not stop expecting 1-2 day delivery times – this is part of the “new normal”. In fact, as customers buy more everyday products online, we expect that 1-2 day shipping will be more common.
The good news is that you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of retailers face the same problem for the same simple reason: retailers existing logistics networks have not evolved to meet the needs of today’s digitally connected customer . Yet, retail business owners everywhere find themselves being forced into inefficient and expensive methods for processing and shipping orders—valuable time and money that you could and should spend on core activities such as sales and marketing, brand management, and customer service.
This is why it’s more important than ever to stop for a moment and ask yourself as a retailer: “If I’m having trouble managing ecommerce shipments from stores and my DCs now, what will happen during the holidays and as sales increase?”
Here are a few ways to keep your customers happy and your online store running smoothly as business picks up for Father’s Day.
Improve Your Retail Business’ Inefficiencies Sooner Rather than Later
Before you start streamlining logistics and delivery operations, it’s important to look at how you can improve operations within your core business and workflow.
A retailer’s store is the most cost-effective and efficient location to reach customers, whether they buy in-store or online, because, chances are, it is located close to the customer’s home. Retailer’s must optimize their logistics utilizing their existing assets; their stores, staff, and the inventory in these locations. In other words, don’t become your own bottleneck!
Take Advantage of the Latest Advances in Retail Logistics
Here are some ideas your company can use to ease the shipping burden when your sales spike during the next holiday season:
The Mall as the New Distribution Center
It’s no secret that certain shopping malls are challenged in attracting new tenants and even keep existing tenants. This doesn’t mean that malls are gone for good. Some mall owners look at their assets as the perfect ready-built solution to efficient last-mile delivery. Mall owners realize that their infrastructure is in transition and they must evolve to support the changing needs of both the offline and online customers.
It makes a lot of sense: shopping malls are designed to receive store, and sell thousands of different consumer products, from apparel to accessories to home furnishings. They’re also strategically located near major roads and highways in densely populated areas to attract as much foot traffic as possible. Instead of bringing regional customers to centrally located retail products, new logistics-as-a-service companies, such as Fillogic, are bringing the centrally located retail products to regional customers.
Integrate the Shipper Into Your Business (Not the Other Way Around)
If you’re fulfilling customer orders on your own, chances are that you’re working with your own logistics team or a third party logistics operation. Perhaps you have a commercial agreement with bulk discounts and priority handling, but for the most part, you need to work around the delivery company’s cut-off times, transport schedule, and hub locations. That is, you need to adapt your shipping operations to fit the carrier’s shipping operations.
This might work for the occasional shipment, but it becomes more challenging at scale. As your shipping needs grow in size and complexity, retailers need a technology-agnostic logistics platform to act more as a partner that’s willing to apply its own knowledge and technology to help the retailer make smarter, data-driven decisions about order fulfillment.
Instead, think about how the shipper should work around your retail business. Whether it’s having the shipper support you onsite with packing or fully integrating with the company with storage, sorting, and inventory management, choosing a delivery company that’s willing to work around you will save your business money, labor, and delivery time. Logistics-as-a-service platforms like Fillogic can increase sustainability of your business by aggregating shipping from multiple mall retailers at a point closest to the customer, which also decreases time and cost for shipping from stores by up to 65%.
Focus on Your Core Retail Business
The recent explosion in eCommerce has been great for retailers, but eCommerce at scale is not cheap. Many business owners have been forced to shift their attention to logistics to satisfy customer expectations for quick, cheap delivery. When sales volume spikes around holidays like Father’s Day, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with processing orders and staying on top of on-time deliveries.
Working with a dedicated logistics service is a wise choice for retailers looking to stay focused on core parts of their business, such as product selection, marketing, brand management, and customer service. After all, these aspects of retail, are what truly makes stores stand out in a crowded market!
About the author
Bill Thayer is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Fillogic, a NYC-based technology company dedicated to maximizing efficiencies for retailers and freight delivery networks via mall-based micro distribution hubs. Bill is a senior retail and logistics executive with more than 30 years of experience and positions ranging from COO/CIO at Loehmann’s, CLO at C21 Stores, to technology consultant for Macy’s, Barneys and more.
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