New Logistics for a New Culture: Omnichannel Solutions Drive Retail Success
The culture of retail has been evolving for decades. In the 90s, the growth occurred in brick-and-mortar stores; from 2000 to 2010, retailers had to shift their focus to offer better online shopping experiences; and this decade is all about the evolution of omnichannel. Today, retailers are charged with creating the ideal shopping experience everywhere. For consumers, it must be seamless and simple no matter where their purchases take place.
This transition is happening very quickly, and some retailers are even shrinking floor space to accommodate their growing online customer base. Even more telling, some retailers are seeing 75 percent of sales coming via their mobile apps. And according to Forrester Research, by 2017, 60 percent of U.S. retail sales will involve the internet in some way.
Since online purchases can happen anytime and anywhere, if a consumer can't find what he or she is looking for, retailers must respond swiftly and efficiently to help them within their distribution network. The most successful companies will be the retailers who make it the simplest for their customers.
More Than Just a Store
Every omnichannel solution starts with bringing inventory closer to the customer — wherever they may be. With two-day shipping the industry standard, this is vital. Simply put, if a customer orders something online, they expect to receive it in two days. Some retailers meet this expectation by shipping directly from their stores. The challenge, however, is ensuring that the stores function at maximum efficiency, like a "mini distribution center."
Typically, this is where a strong third-party logistics (3PL) partner can add value. 3PL providers can support retailers by managing the complete ship-from-store function. This means identifying the appropriate space and staff allocation and ensuring that picking and packing are done right. When inventory management, fulfillment and shipping are accurate and efficient, retailers can focus on what they do best — delivering a great customer experience for shoppers visiting their stores.