3 Ways To Support Ship-From-Store And In-Store Pickup Options
The latest in retail fulfillment — ship-from-store and in-store pickup — have moved on from being the new kids on the block. These services are an essential part of a successful omni-channel strategy that meets the needs of the changing customer.
In many ways, ship-from-store and pickup-from-store services can improve your inventory management as a retailer. But successfully managing those services requires the right technology and processes. Here’s a look at how three key approaches — retail point-of-sale (POS) technology, real-time inventory management and comprehensive training — help to support these services.
Maximize POS features: To successfully execute ship-from-store and ship-to-store services, you must bring together processes and technology. A retail POS solution can serve as that bridge.
For instance, special order retail fulfillment methods don’t follow the same workflow as a traditional checkout, where a customer takes an item off the shelf and pays for it at the register, and after the transaction the POS updates the inventory count. Special order methods like ship-from-store and pickup-from-store services involve more steps. To tighten that process, a retail POS solution is able to serve as a one-stop shop for the entire ship-from-store fulfillment process. That means it can initiate the process as a special order, accept customer payment for the item, and track shipment and delivery.
In addition, a retail POS solution integrates what usually is coordinated by several back office systems. Pickup-from-store orders typically originate from a retailer’s e-commerce website. When that website is integrated with a retail POS solution, stores can better track the product’s location during shipping and receiving, find the order by customer name or invoice number, accept payment when the customer arrives to pick it up, and mark the product as delivered.
Keep in mind that while a retail POS system is able to track a product, it’s up to you as the retailer to develop the inventory processes and classification. A retail POS only tracks the item’s status or classification, and not its physical location. So if the system reports that an item is damaged, that could mean the inventory is located in a special area of the store or that it has been sent back to the manufacturer.
Use real-time inventory management to better support special order transactions: Real-time inventory management is necessary to leverage the strengths of ship-from-store and pickup-from-store services.
But real-time communication is only good as your inventory management visibility. That’s why your retail POS system and other back office systems must draw from the same database. It ensures that inventory tracking remains consistent and accurate across channels.
For example, a clothing retailer can track cardigans either by style number or by product size and color. Regardless, the tracking method should match how the inventory count is being updated after the product sells.
Real-time inventory management operations require dedicated time and resources to ensure information accuracy. But the level of commitment depends on how much inventory information a retailer would like to share with the customer. There’s a difference between informing a customer that a store has 10 cardigans of a specific style in stock versus telling them the store has extra-large white cardigans in stock.
Offer comprehensive training that supports your inventory management: While technology can do the heavy lifting, a retail POS system and your inventory management methods still require human interaction to accurately track stock and follow correct procedures.
For a fulfillment service like pickup-from-store, you must have a process that physically ensures the item is available for customer pickup. That process needs to initiate as soon as a customer selects in-store pickup from the e-commerce website. Here are a couple of in-store pickup processes to consider: An employee could locate the item and place it a holding area. Or, the retailer’s e-commerce website could only allow the pickup-from-store option when the store has sufficient stock or safety stock to ensure the product will not run out before a customer arrives.
Ship-from-store and pickup-from-store services serve to strengthen an omni-channel strategy. Adapting to emerging retail fulfillment methods such as these is vital for retailers to meet the needs of today’s customers.
Author: Wm. Matthew Street, Solutions Consultant/Retail Product Lead at ArcherPoint
To learn more about supporting ship-from-store and in-store pickup options, schedule a demo of ArcherPoint's Retail Management Solutions.