The Amazon-led economy has transformed the way in which retailers strategize shipping their inventory to consumers. Speedy – and occasionally complimentary – shipping is a given for any brand’s ecommerce store or mobile app, meaning that best-practice order fulfillment tactics have risen to the top of marketers’ must-have lists.
While online-only retailers may have unbeatable site features or app notifications on hand, the biggest advantage lies with brick-and-mortar retailers that can turn some of their stores into distribution centers. The proliferation of mobile commerce can help foster smart ordering strategies through urban fulfillment – if brands are willing to delegate the necessary resources, space, and personnel to the task.
First, strategy: Implementing a distribution strategy into any mobile commerce initiative is a major hurdle to cross in the retail world. The ease of interacting with a one-step checkout experience – and purchasing items from a mobile app or site within seconds – has conditioned consumers to expect their shipments to arrive in the same speedy time frame. Retailers must ensure their brick-and-mortar stores and distribution centers are well-equipped to respond to mobile orders quickly, especially during peak times, such as the holidays. This includes assigning the responsibility of overseeing smartphone-made purchases to a specific manager or employee, and potentially integrating order-fulfillment software into existing point-of-sale platforms.
Another key component is transparency regarding shipping capability. If mobile orders cannot be fulfilled in time for same-day shipping, for example, retailers must make that information visible during the payment process, and only offer feasible shipping options. If shipments can be fulfilled in an even faster time period than stated, the customer will be pleasantly surprised and may become more likely to shop with that brand again.
Second, stores: The second requirement of retailers’ urban fulfillment strategies hinges on their brick-and-mortar locations. Marketers must enable their stores to complete local orders, in turn transforming those locations into regional fulfillment centers. This tactic makes it easier to implement same-day shipping options. For example, if a customer in California places an order for same-day shipping, but the brand’s nearest distribution center is in Texas, receiving those items on-time may be a tricky feat. If a store in San Diego is equipped to service the Southern California region, however, the process is much more likely to go smoothly.
Marketers’ core focus must be on delegating urban fulfillment centers in in-demand areas that can facilitate local orders with limiting time frames.
Third, customer service: The last –and arguably most important – rule of maximizing urban fulfillment to cater to mobile shoppers? Figure out how to outpace Amazon. The ecommerce behemoth has cast its shadow over most retailers – online-only and brick-and-mortar – and raised the competition stakes even higher. With Prime Now, mobile and online shoppers can receive their purchases within one hour, in some cases. One way to emulate Amazon’s business model is to offer exemplary customer service. This includes providing last-minute offers, frequent free shipping promotions, and apology discounts if a purchased item is no longer in stock.
Offering round-the-clock live chat options within mobile apps and on mdot sites is another way with which retailers can fuel sales. Amazon is widely known for its lightning-fast responses from customer service representatives, meaning that other brands must also be ready to assist a consumer with any shipping concerns or requests.
Follow-up emails are another priority. Consumers should receive a tracking code within several hours of making a purchase, enabling them to anticipate their order’s exact arrival time. Gleaning feedback from these individuals about their customer experiences is also easier this way.
Ultimately, order fulfillment should be at the heart of every retailer’s mobile strategy if the brand seeks to grab a sliver of market share out of Amazon’s hands. Maximizing convenience for the customer, delegating local distribution centers, and offering constantly reachable service representatives can help marketers hit a home run with time-strapped customers.
If you are interested in learning more on how to beat Amazon at the fulfillment game, download our previously recorded webinar and learn how-to turn brick-and-mortar stores into your biggest asset against Amazon.