Many people think that shipping out an order is the same as ‘fulfilling it’. In reality fulfilling an order means much more than shipping a package out. In retail, the term “fulfillment” refers to everything a retailer does from the moment a customer places an order. While many think that order fulfillment means shipping out online order from a warehouse (this is likely because of Amazon fulfillments centers), this is actually only one of many ways to get orders to a customer.
For example, retailers with existing physical stores can also fulfill online sales by packing online orders for in-store pickup. In comparison, in-store pickup is generally a lot cheaper than shipping online orders out from a warehouse as you don’t need to pay for packing materials or shipping fees.
What is order fulfillment?
As we’ve mentioned – fulfilling orders includes the process of receiving an order then getting it to the customer. It can also include supply chain tasks such as inventory management, quality control and customer support as part of order fulfillment.
The term “order fulfillment” tends to sound complex and seems only suitable for very large businesses. In reality, fulfillment is something businesses have been doing for decades now. In the past, customers often made orders through phone calls, fax machines, or even coming into the store. Stores would prepare these orders for pickup or ship out. In other words, stores had to “fulfill” these orders.
The difference today is that most order fulfillment is for ecommerce and that most retailers have a catalog of their products online because shoppers expect to be able to see what products a store carries. This is why it is so important to have an online catalog that shows off all your merchandise. While an online store is great, having any product showcase (e.g. Google’s free See What’s In Store feature) helps nearby stores be found online. And a modern omnichannel retail system makes it easy and fast to display POS products online in a few clicks.
While there are many different steps in order fulfillment, the main ones are:
Purchasing goods from suppliers
Receiving goods that are purchased
Storing purchased goods until they are sold
Picking and packing goods when they are sold
Getting goods to customers
Most physical stores are familiar with steps 1 to 4. However, since the pandemic, the way many brick & mortar retailers are handling step 5 has changed. While merchants relied a lot on shippers and last-mile delivery services (e.g. DoorDash) in the beginning of the pandemic, as the cost of packaging materials and fuel surcharges has increased, more physical stores are looking at in-store fulfillment options today. For example, with BOPIS orders (buy online pickup in-store), ‘shipping out’ is replaced with customer self-pickup or in-store fulfillment.
The benefits of in-store fulfillment
Some of the perks of in-store fulfillment are:
It helps you compete with bigger ecommerce companies as you can give your local audience a custom and personalized experience during pickup
It’s faster for nearby shoppers to get their orders
It helps you get rid of shipping costs to send products out or return products
It helps you make bigger sales since shoppers often buy additional items during pickup
It lowers return costs as orders picked up in store have lower return rates
Some challenges around in-store fulfillment
In-store fulfillment isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. There are some challenges you need to be aware of if you are going to be fulfilling orders from in-store. Here are some roadblocks you may face:
The need to change the store layout to make it faster for pickup shoppers
The need for better back office processes to allow for quick picking and packing once an order is received
Linking data between store POS systems and online stores
Many POS systems do not offer the tools needed to track everything you need for in-store fulfillment. Modern omnichannel POS systems such as TAKU make order fulfillment a breeze. They make it possible for you to:
Manage all of your in-store and online inventory in one place
Sell any inventory in your POS online with just a few clicks
Always know exactly how much available inventory stock you have with real-time on-hand quantity
Automatically showcase products and real-time stock availability in Google searches, Facebook Shop or Instagram Shop
These are just a couple of the benefits retail stores will gain from using a modern cloud-based system today. Click here to learn more about how TAKU can help you save money and sell more today.
Confused by some words in the retail industry? Read up on the essential retail terms and their definitions with our Retail Glossary here!
In addition to store pickup, merchants can also offer ship out fulfillment options. When we talk about ship out, we are talking about local delivery and third party shipping.
So, while it is definitely possible to sell online without offering delivery. If you’re able to add shipping to your operations, setting it up in your online store may be easier than you think.
Let’s take a look at both fulfillment options and review how they can provide added convenience for you and your shoppers.
What is local delivery?
Local delivery refers to fulfilling orders in the same area (same town, city or region) that your retail business is located in. How it works is simple. Customers buy your products online, and someone hand delivers the orders straight to their doorsteps.
With local delivery, a business can either choose to deliver the orders themselves or use an on-demand delivery service such as Uber. Local delivery is different from regular third-party shipping because it often does not require as much packing materials and the delivery time can be much faster. And, of course, the fees charged by on-demand delivery services are the highest.
Regardless of who is handling the local delivery, it’s important to remember that it needs to be done efficiently for it to be cost effective, as it can be expensive if you’re hand delivering products even using your own staff.
Local delivery has been particularly popular since the pandemic started as merchants have been able to keep existing store staff on payroll by assigning them to make nearby deliveries when store traffic is down.
How to set up in-house local delivery.
From your TAKU eCommerce control panel, click on “Shipping & Pickup”.
Click “Set Up Local Delivery”.
Choose which rates you would like to set up. Decide on your preferences for:
Conditional free delivery
Enter the name for this delivery option as well as a description for your customers. This is the name that will be visible to shoppers during checkout in your online store. If you choose to add a flat or custom rate, set up your rates.
If needed, you can limit availability to only store operating hours in order to make this delivery option available on certain business days or hours of the week.
You can click on “Limit Availability by order subtotal” to specify a minimum order subtotal to make sure that you only offer local delivery on orders over a certain dollar value.
Click on “Set delivery zone” and choose “zone on map” or “advanced settings” to make sure you aren’t offering local delivery beyond a certain area.
Add an order fulfillment time. This will be how much time you need to prepare the online orders you receive. For example, 1 business day or a daily cut-off time for next day delivery.
Local delivery with time picker
Since the start of the pandemic, local delivery has been in high demand with shoppers. But if you’re managing local delivery yourself, you want to be efficient with how you manage your deliveries. It is costly for any store to deliver to local shoppers everywhere at the same time.
This is why we offer the option for stores to ask shoppers for both, delivery dates and times at checkout if they choose to use store pickup. You can now offer delivery time slots during the specific times you will be delivering in a given area. For example, you can offer free delivery to addresses within 1km and offer delivery to areas outside of this free zone only on specific days. This way, you and your staff are only delivering orders area by area which is both more cost effective and sets the right expectation for shoppers.
Third party shipping
Many retailers going online for the first time often think that shipping out is the only way to sell online. However, many successful online merchants will pick and choose the products they offer for shipping. They also use shipping strategies to increase their profitability and stand out from competitors.
4 things that affect the cost of shipping
1. The package weight and dimensions
Carriers such as FedEx, UPS and USPC calculate shipping costs based on weight or dimensional weight of products. This is something you want to think about before selling a product online. With TAKU eCommerce, it’s possible for you to specify the shipping method for every product. This means that you can offer only store pickup and exclude ship out options for products that are too fragile or costly to deliver.
2. Delivery location
Shipping costs will vary depending on destination. For example, if you offer shipping to remote locations or internationally, shipping fees will naturally be higher.
3. Delivery times
Some shoppers may want to pay for expedited shipping for faster delivery. This option is usually calculated and offered automatically by the carrier you choose to use based on availability for the destination.
4. Value of shipped goods
If your products are of high quality or higher value you may want to insure your shipments which will again increase your shipping costs.
While shoppers always prefer flat shipping fees (where free shipping isn’t available), TAKU eCommerce also gives you the option to charge shoppers the actual cost including things such as insurance if you use the integrated shippers in the system.
Different shipping strategies you can use
1. Free shipping
Shipping fees are the number one reason behind abandoned shopping carts. If you can afford it, consider offering free shipping to increase sales on your online store. It’s best to offer free shipping on products where you make more profit but do not often require extra packaging or handling. You can also offer free shipping only on products that are being shipped locally, as the cost for local orders will not be as high.
To make up for shipping costs, you can increase the price of your products slightly or you can set a minimum order size to ensure that the orders are worth accepting.
2. Charging exact shipping cost
Retailers using mainstream shipping services for example USPS, FedEx, UPS or Canada post, can charge shoppers the actual cost that they’re being charged by these carriers. E-commerce platforms such as TAKE eCommerce allow merchants to receive automatic online shipping rates from carriers directly during checkout. Depending on the shipper, it may be possible to add additional features such as Signature Required, Proof of Age Required, etc.
If you need more complex calculations for shipping costs, consider using tiered rates that you can base off of order subtotals or order weights.
Remember that you also have the option of manually adding the carrier’s shipping rate for various order weight ranges if you’re using a carrier that is not already integrated with TAKU.
3. Flat rate shipping
Flat rate shipping is best for retailers who deliver products themselves, or sell products of similar weight or size. For example, merchants can charge 10$ for every local delivery from their store. Many merchants will use flat rate shipping even when their shipping costs aren’t the same to make it simpler for shoppers. In cases like this, the idea is that you may not always cover the cost of your shipping. But on average, it should even out as you will get larger orders and smaller orders that will cost you less.
Many stores consider shipping costs to be an indirect cost of business now. This is similar to how you would think of marketing to sell online.
We hope that you have enjoyed our blog post and video series. For more information on how you can take leverage your physical store to sell online easily, please visit our blog or follow us on social media.
Take a look at our other steps by clicking one of the chapters below!
Now that you have successfully taken payments and orders online, the next step will be offering store pickup for your online orders. Step 4 focuses on why setting up store pickup is more cost-effective for retailers offering e-commerce.
In this blog post, we’ll cover how you can offer store pickup as an easy way for your local customer to get the products they order online quickly, and at a lower cost to you.
Benefits of offering pickup, to both retailers and customers.
Store pickup gives customers the option to buy the products online and stop by your store to pick up their order. With store pickup, staff place prepared orders in a specific store pickup area or place them right into customers cars outside.
Compared to in-store shopping, store pickup allows retailers to continue selling even when people aren’t allowed in the store. During the pandemic, this allowed stores to reduce contact, making it a safer option at the time.
Some people might ask, “Why offer store pickup when shipping is available?” but there are some major benefits to both retailers and customers including:
1. Reduced cost and waste.
As a retailer, you save on the shipping and packing costs including both materials and the time for staff to pack orders when you offer store pickup. This helps to keep costs down for shoppers since you don’t need to buy packing materials, charge delivery fees to cover your costs or offer free shipping, and shoppers don’t need to deal with all the waste created by shipping cartons, etc.
2. Fewer lost sales
Shoppers expect free shipping today with online shopping, but stores can only cover the cost of it when orders are above a certain size. Yet having a minimum for free shipping makes shoppers more likely to not complete checkout online. Pickup allows you to reduce, or get rid of online order size minimums. This will increase the chance that every shopper buys something. Similarly, customers that pick up in store are more likely to buy other things when they are already in the store.
3. Selling bulky or fragile items
Even if a store sells mainly large or delicate products that are not suitable for delivery, you can still offer online ordering to your customers if you offer store pickup during online checkout.
4. Faster turnaround time
Even before the Pandemic, shipping delays were a problem, especially during peak periods. Given the overall increase in e-commerce and the ongoing labor shortage, this has only gotten worse. Store pickup gives merchants the ability to turn around local orders faster. There’s no packing involved and nearby customers can get products they need faster, even while supporting their own local main street stores.
5. Reduced returns
While there are more tools available now to help shoppers buy online, e-commerce sales continue to have a higher percentage of returns versus in-store sales. Store pickup is one way to reduce costly returns. This way, merchants can avoid extra shipping costs and damages during the return shipment. Shoppers are less likely to return items they have already checked when they pick up in store.
6. More flexible payment options
Online processing fees are usually more expensive than in-store payments using card terminals. While getting upfront payment is useful to reduce the risk of the customer not showing up, an omnichannel platform such as TAKU will also allow stores to offer in-store payment during store pickup. Not only does this lower the cost of payment processing, offering in-store returns or exchanges on online purchases can help to reduce the extra processing costs of refunds too.
7. Supporting local businesses
E-commerce has been a great innovation, but the real benefit for small business comes when it is easily offered with store pickup to give local merchants an advantage compared to larger competitors who often cannot match nearby stores for speed and service.
How to start offering store pickup with TAKU.
Using TAKU as an example, here is how store pickup works once you have products and payments set up in your system:
Add a pickup option in your online store. TAKU eCommerce gives retailers the option of displaying pickup dates and times at checkout. Make sure to include pickup instructions including how and where customers can pick up their orders. Don’t forget to include the store phone number and what ID is necessary to verify the order.
When a customer places an order on your website, the customer can now select a pickup date and time.
Once an order is finalized, you and your customer will get notified about the order. Depending on when the customer is scheduled to pick up his or her order, you or your staff can start preparing the order. TAKU has a built-in packing list for staff to easily pick orders
If you’re using the scheduled store pickup feature, you just need to have the order ready for the confirmed date and time. Otherwise it’s always recommended for you to notify the customer when their order is ready for pickup by changing the Fulfillment Status within TAKU to Completed. Once that it done, the customer will automatically get a notification that the order is ready and your Delivery Status will change to Ready for Pickup.
Make sure that you have clear signage at you store to direct customers to your store pickup area. If your pickup area is unmanned, include instructions for your pickup process.
Remember to remind shoppers about your store pickup person verification policy so they are ready with their IDs if necessary.
If you are limiting exposure and there is parking nearby your store, you can offer the option for staff to bring orders out to customers’ cars.
Hopefully this blog post has helped to explain the many benefits of offering store pickup. Don’t forget to check out the next blog post and videos in our series which covers how local delivery and shipping works with online stores.
Check out our other steps on moving your store online by clicking on the buttons below.
Easter falls on April 17th this year. With many COVID-19 restrictions easing everywhere, shoppers are increasingly confident and energized about shopping now. Easter is the first big family holiday of the year. As a retailer, the holidays are a great marketing and sales opportunity. Here are 3 tips for Easter retail marketing this year.
1. Offer ready-to-go promotions and discounts to attract customers
Shoppers today expect convenience and curation when they buy. Make it easy for your customers to grab products without any extra effort. Even if you don’t specialize in chocolate or sell Easter-related products you can still offer a unique angle. Make promotions related to Spring-time activities such as: spring cleaning, spring weather, gardening, etc. Spring is the ideal season for launching new products and exclusives. The season is traditionally seen as a time of renewal and hope, making it the best time to launch new products!
You can also tempt more shoppers into buying from you by:
Discounting your best-selling items with an Easter or Spring theme
Getting rid of your winter products through deep discounts on the items
Preparing small giveaway goodies that customers can get once their purchase reaches a certain amount of money – or if they purchase a product that’s being promoted
You can also set up a landing page or a section on your website / e-commerce site which will advertise these promotions. This way shoppers can easily browse through sale and seasonal items. TAKU helps you create a free micro-website or landing page. In our builder, you can create a beautiful SEO-optimized web page with custom colors, images, and content. The content can be linked directly to your Instagram Shop, Facebook Shop, Google store listings and even Messenger chat. The process will only take you 5 minutes to set up. Afterwards it runs on autopilot. Learn more here.
2. Inspirational giveaways and contests
“Especially during COVID right now, we know that the shopper has been looking for different ways to be inspired — whether that be through recipes or activities or ways just to make ordinary moments more special…”
Lauren Foltz, senior manager of holistic shopper insights at Hershey. (source)
Make YOUR consumer feel special by considering giveaways and / or social media contests. You can have customers sign up for these contests by agreeing to sign up for your mailing list or newsletter; two birds with one stone. This will then direct your followers from the online platform to your physical store. It can also increase your visibility on social media and make your store more recognizable. You could also create a short Easter game like a virtual egg hunt to make your promotions more fun. You can even encourage your customers to vote between products to learn their preferences so you can adjust your communications to match their needs. Then you can encourage the winners to share their prize or experience on social media for some good old word-of-mouth marketing. Remember, the goal with this year’s Easter retail marketing is to make your customers feel special.
You can use TAKU’s 360° real-time customer view to see your customers’ sales history in real-time so you can target a specific audience. If your customers are heavy social media users, use our built-in Facebook or Instagram feeds to sell directly to your followers. You can get a pretty clear overview of their total relationship with your business, across all channels, in store and online.
3. Launch remarketing campaigns for Easter retail marketing
Holiday retail marketing is a great opportunity to win back past visitors as well. You can use Facebook “retargeting” ads to attract old visitors back to your website. You will need to set up a Facebook pixel on your website to do this. The retargeting ads can showcase your Easter offers & promotions. You could also show different offers to people who have interacted with your website before. For the best results, retarget past website visitors who added items to their cart but never checked out. After all, nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned without finishing the transaction (source: Baymard Institute). You can also target shoppers who have engaged with you on social media during the previous weeks. In a nutshell, you want to get customers to come back and finish the sales they started.
TAKU can simplify this entire process for you. Our built-in abandoned cart saver will help you recapture those pesky cart abandoners! The entire automated process will leave you worry-free.
Experiential retail continues to grow in importance
The competition in physical retail grows daily. Experiential retail is a way for you to make your business stand out. Create unique and memorable in-store experiences by focusing on community, events, and your potential & existing customers’ interests. This way, instead of only aiming to increase sales revenue, you’ll also deliver enjoyable experiences that build brand affinity.
Let’s say you sell sustainably made cookware. You could create a community-building opportunity in store by hosting a mix-and-mingle experience with other businesses that create products for a similar audience. For example, you could invite a chef, a tableware brand, a local farmer, and a brand that makes 100% natural sauces or seasoning to participate in the event.
All the brands involved can display their products. So as the shoppers are experiencing the awesome products, they can also make purchases.
Depending on the point of sale (POS) used at your store, you can review your customer profiles to get an overview of purchase history and interests that can help inform your strategy to create the in-store experiences your customers are looking for.
Although the word omnichannel is often used in retail, it is a term that is often misunderstood. Here is an explanation of what omnichannel means, how it works, and how it can help you increase your profits.
1. What is a retail sales channel?
Sales channels refer to every different method used by retailers to sell their products to customers. Sales channels go beyond brick & mortar stores. Other sales channels could be events, trade shows, resellers, dealers, curbside pickup, and on-the-go pickup. Additionally, sales channels can also include social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok), SMS, instant messaging, and even Google Ads.
Most retailers start off selling on a single channel. This can be a physical brick and mortar store or an online only webstore. Prior to the pandemic, an increasing number of retailers have started to add new sales channels to their businesses as shoppers now expect to be able to shop and pre-shop in more than one place.
2. What is omnichannel?
Omnichannel is a fully-integrated retail experience for shoppers. So when omnichannel works, it means customers will have the same experience no matter which sales channel they use. A customer who buys products from a brick & mortar store should have the same experience as one who uses social media channels to buy products. This is the ideal outcome for a successful omnichannel retail business.
What many retailers aren’t as familiar with, is that retailers must use a system that can share sales, inventory, and customer information (data) across all sales channels to be able to offer omnichannel retail. This means handling all store sales and fulfillment of online orders under a single login. In particular, omnichannel systems make store-managed e-commerce such as “buy online pickup in-store” a lot more efficient.
A successful system handles data for sales, inventory and customer information across all brick & mortar stores, online storefronts, ecommerce marketplaces, mobile channels/apps (WhatsApp), and social media commerce (Facebook or Instagram Shop). You should be able to sell to your customers no matter where they shop. In the past, omnichannel systems were expensive and only available to very large retailers. However, today’s modern cloud systems have made it possible for small-to-mid-sized retailers to take advantage of the cost-savings and sales boosting benefits of omnichannel retail.
3. What is the difference between multichannel & omnichannel?
It’s important not to confuse omnichannel with multichannel, despite their similarities. Like omnichannel, multichannel refers to retailers selling to customers through different sales channels. Yet, in a multichannel setup, these channels are not integrated.
Unlike omnichannel, multichannel does not unify the customer experience. And more importantly, multichannel retail costs merchants a lot more money because they need to log into separate tools or channels to manage inventory separately, or see sales and customer history. This is a time-consuming process that can lead to lost sales and errors. It also increases the complexity of your sales and tax management. Additionally, multichannel increases the cost of managing inventory if sales are being fulfilled from the store or the same place.
4. Why is omnichannel retail important?
Omnichannel selling offers a data-driven approach to retail. As stock levels change, you will want to know the product levels in every channel. A good omnichannel system will do this automatically. This means you will never have to manually manage stockouts. A good omnichannel system will also increase sales by highlighting your best customers across all sales channels. It will focus on faster fulfill of every sale, no matter where the sale originates.
Omnichannel systems are increasingly effective at attracting people to brick & mortar locations. They do this by linking to Google to drive foot traffic to stores based on how close nearby shoppers are to available stock. This increases overall profits by increasing in-store and sales conversion rates.
The goal is a memorable and positive experience for your customers. Omnichannel can make this happen.
TAKU Retail can provide you with a comprehensive and integrated omnichannel strategy that will remove friction between channels. Because TAKU is cloud-based, it can function on any device since it’s not tied to any specific type of hardware. This enables you to use any existing web-enabled devices from desktop computers or tablets to smartphones.
TAKU can not only help you increase sales and reduce operational costs, but it can also help you get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes. Click below to find out about other ways TAKU Retail can help you achieve a successful omnichannel system for your business.
Shoppers now expect the perk of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store to be a given. However, you need to consider the operations of your retail business before you can offer BOPIS. Without support from modern retail software, BOPIS runs the risk of decreasing customer satisfaction.
Being able to find exactly what they want at the price point they need will undoubtedly thrill shoppers. However, if the second half of the process falls short of expectations, it will drive customers to search elsewhere and put the business lower on their list of trusted retailers.
1. Accurate inventory information without extra staff
Retail expert Suzanne Sears notes that more and more consumers are feeling confident about returning to in-person shopping. She says “Pent-up savings among consumers, who have greater access to products than services, are making purchases. This has created a demand for work in warehousing, shipping, supply chain, buying, stores, e-commerce, and right on through the entire operation.” This has significantly impacted the search for qualified new hires. Staffing shortages have become a widespread problem. Businesses across North America are not only struggling to find employees but also struggling to keep them around.
Reduced staff means there are fewer employees available to manually track inventory across multiple systems. Understaffed stores cannot handle these challenges, resulting in inventory accuracy as low as 70%. This means that at any given time, nearly a third of inventory stock can be inaccurate. This is especially true with high-traffic or high-inventory stores, many of which are understaffed today. In order to offer BOPIS successfully, retailers will have to invest in a system with real-time inventory across all sales channels. This will let them provide the type of inventory availability accuracy that today’s shoppers expect.
2. Automatically attract more local customers
The best omnichannel systems today will not only help retailers effectively offer Buy Online Pick Up In-Store, they will help them automatically attract more nearby shoppers. Because real-time omnichannel solutions such as TAKU are able to provide reliable, accurate inventory information and real-time stock availability, they are able to connect to local marketing tools to automatically drive more foot traffic in store.
Omnichannel systems such as TAKU help retailers manage all of their inventory across all sales channels with a single, smart product feed . The feed can then be connected to Google Merchant Center and Google My Business. This integration is a built-in feature of TAKU that automatically helps retailers can be found more easily on Google. By plugging their store inventory into a free product showcase called ‘See What’s In Store’, retailers can easily show real-time stock availability in store. Where before large retailers would need to hire agencies or staff to upload products into Google manually, modern omnichannel systems are able to do this without any data entry and stock levels update instantly as you sell in-store or online.
The retail market is increasingly competitive, retailers need proper inventory management to compete. A system that automatically updates all stock quantity info right away (no matter where or when the sale takes place) is essential. That is why retailers will need to make investments in modern inventory systems. It will allow them to ensure they have properly implemented BOPIS.
See How TAKU Can Help With Seamless BOPIS
TAKU is a single retail platform that will put you in the driver’s seat. It enables you to manage all of your in-store and online operations in a single place. Whether you have 5,000 or 100,000 SKUs, TAKU lets you quickly import customer and inventory data from your current POS, feed file, or e-commerce platform. Unlike other retail cloud platforms, TAKU is customizable and crazy fast in-store and online. With an easy-to-use design and built-in training tools, set-up is faster than many other systems. Never manage products or stock levels in different systems again.
Learn more about how TAKU works by clicking below.