Does Ship-From-Store Work For My Business?
by Jillian Voege
With this whole debate about eCommerce eventually replacing brick-and-mortars, there isn't much talk about how the two channels can actually work with each other. There's an underlying assumption that brick-and-mortar shops are just an outdated waste of merchandising space and overhead. But when you think about logistics, brick-and-mortars can actually serve to streamline eCommerce operations.
The USPS has been pushing their ship-from-store capabilities, allowing retailers and brands to use their brick-and-mortars as virtualized fulfillment centers. By exposing the brick-and-mortar's merchandise to the eCommerce channel, it adds another origin point that may be closer to the customer's delivery address.
For instance, a customer lives 4 postal zones away from the brand's nearest fulfillment center, while also living near several of the brand's brick-and-mortar stores. If a customer orders a dress online that's carried by nearby brick-and-mortars, ship-from-store would allow the brand to create a much shorter, faster, and affordable delivery by telling the nearest brick-and-mortar to send it directly.
By using brick-and-mortars as virtual fulfillment centers, you leverage the extra space and merchandising that you've already paid for, thus lightening the operational load on your eCommerce fulfillment. It allows you to effectively pool all of your merchandise to make available for your eCommerce channel, while simulatenously letting the brick-and-mortars run as usual.
So does ship-from-store work for your business?
It depends. Ship-from-store could potentially be a useful tool to all businesses, but it works best if a business has a healthy spread of brick-and-mortars throughout the country. The main benefit of ship-from-store is that it allows brick-and-mortars to enhance the logistics of a brand's eCommerce channel. The benefit of ship-from-store is directly tied to the amount of brick-and-mortars the brand owns. So ship-from-store isn't a big boon for boutique brands, but it can open up substantial savings for big box retailers and global luxury brands.
As far as integrations go, implementing ship-from-store can be relatively easy. Shipping APIs like ours can seamlessly fit with current POS systems in use, and they can also power the back-end for customized or out-of-the-box applications. However you decide to do it, there's good technology available to enhance your brick-and-mortars into truly omnichannel outlets.