Customers today simply won’t wait in all day for their purchases any longer – they’re impatient and time pushed. They want their shopping and they want it now!
These customers expect fashion and general merchandise retailers to offer the same level of service as supermarkets – specific 60-minute delivery slots, or a more convenient alternative. This is much harder for general merchandise or fashion retailers to achieve as they are reliant on parcel delivery networks rather than having their own fleets of dedicated vehicles.
There is no doubt about it; retail supply chains are continuously being pushed to the limit. Next day delivery is the new normal – and soon to be no longer good enough. More and more retailers now offer same-day delivery, or are competing in the race for latest next day delivery cut-off times in order to meet customer demands and be more competitive.
However, it’s not just about speed. These shoppers don’t just want their goods now, they also want to receive them via a delivery channel that is suitable to them – once again, further pressurising retailers. Throwing money at adding fulfilment options might work in the short run, bit will impact on profitability in the long run. For this reason, retailers now have to offer a wider range of profitable fulfilment options for both when and how to get goods to shoppers.
The battle for customer loyalty is no longer won with the variety or quality of products offered, but is won or lost on speed of delivery and delivery options. In some cases, shoppers will even buy a product they are not as fond of, if they know they can get it today. With the number of UK shoppers using click-and-collect set to double by 2017 – retailers must ensure that they have the back-end systems in place to cope with this rising demand.
In order to satisfy all customers, retailers need to offer an array of multichannel fulfilment options. This includes click-and-collect, next-day delivery, Collect+ and in the future, 2-hour delivery, drive-by pick-up and other equally demanding fulfilment options. To do this, retailers must have real-time visibility of all inventory throughout their sales network. If you’re offering to deliver the product to your customer today, retailers need to ensure that they can keep that promise. On the business side, they also need to deliver that item in the most profitable way.
Retailers with a bricks-and-mortar presence are well-positioned to win the multichannel battle, as a local presence can be key to fulfilling orders with a tight turnaround. Pure-play retailers like Amazon understand that this is where they are lacking, and are responding with the introduction initiatives such as the delivery locker.
Retailers can add more and more delivery channels – but this approach simply won’t work for maintaining customers if they don’t have the back-end systems to fulfill profitably.