Avoid Holiday Shipping Anxiety

November 4, 2014
 

Online shoppers, especially during the holidays, feel that prompt and worry-free shipping is one of the most important factors when they decide where to spend their money. When a holiday delivery comes in late, 46% of shoppers will look elsewhere the next time they want to place an order online.

Without a solid fulfillment strategy, you could be losing almost half of your customers.

These days, holiday shoppers tend to wait until the last minute. The rise of amenities like two-day shipping have led online shoppers to believe that they can place their orders late in the season, and still have gifts ready in time for family and friends. For the most part, this is a fair expectation. But what do you do when forces outside of your control stand to negatively affect your business?

Last year, for example, storms hit FedEx and UPS hubs in the Midwest, and 33% of online retailers missed promised shipping deadlines to shoppers (and remember that about half of those retailers’ customers likely went looking for new places to shop afterward).

If you plan to ship products to online shoppers this holiday season—and, of course, you should—it’s crucial to have a system in place that is able to adapt to changing circumstances. In other words, you need a flexible fulfillment model.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but we’ve focused on the two most affordable, flexible, and powerful methods that streamline order management from checkout until a package arrives.

Distributive Fulfillment

Why be bound to the mercy of shipping providers when you can spread your fulfillment capabilities across an entire network?

Shopatron (now Kibo) Founder and CEO Ed Stevens described distributed fulfillment this way: “You have two hands, if you lose one, you’ve got another one.”

In other words, if unpreventable circumstances make it impossible to ship from one location, just shift to another.

A flexible distributed order management system allows retailers to fulfill online orders from any of their retail locations; and for manufacturers to pass online orders to any of their retailers for local fulfillment.

The Kibo inventory management system, for example, determines which method and distribution system is best, and automatically routes an order so that it will be shipped as quickly as possible. This type of malleable order routing provides options and tools to avoid bottlenecks when unfortunate circumstances would otherwise result in late shipments.

The end result is increased productivity of in-store staff, the potential for zone skipping, and reduced shipping times. Kibo client Modell’s increased by triple digits, year over year, since implementing Kibo’s distributive fulfillment solution.

In-Store Pickup

A flexible, distributed order management platform opens up a number of other transformative holiday fulfillment solutions, perhaps the most valuable of which is in-store pickup.

Let’s say it’s already the holiday season (it’s not far off). One of your customers has waited too long to place an order, and he or she is worried about getting the shipment in time. This customer has a few options: place the order online and hope for the best, brave the frenetic holiday crowds at a nearby store, or simply place the order online and drive to a nearby store where the package is awaiting pickup.

Online shoppers love this solution, especially during the holidays, which is why leading retailers like Walmart, Target and Toys R Us, hurried to rollout various store pickup programs in advance of the 2013 season. Why? Because to shoppers, in-store pickup combines the ease of online shopping with the speed of local fulfillment. And for retailers and manufacturers that provide such a service, there are the obvious benefits of bringing more shoppers into stores.

At one of the nation’s largest retailers, Target, 10% of online orders were fulfilled via in-store pickup. Kibo clients that provide in-store pickup found that more than 40% of those orders resulted in additional sales.

With the holidays descending, now is the time to ask yourself whether you’re ready to put a distributed-order contingency plan in place and give your customers the service they not only expect, but demand.