Posted on Feb 14, 2018
The way we do business is changing. It's no longer enough to have one avenue for sales. In fact, that hasn't been enough for some time now. In the past, you had online stores and physical stores. Of course the bigger companies started incorporating both early on. This tactic is called omni channel business, and it's become crucial for even the smallest retailers to adopt it.
To put it simply, omni channel means a customer could walk into a shop, pick out an item, then go home and order it online. Or vice versa. It requires an integrated inventory system, and usually a dedicated fulfillment team.
Of course, a shop owner could simply take the item off the shelf and mail it out themselves, but if you expect to move any sort of volume, some major issues arise. These include:
Stores like Walmart, who utilizes omni channel logistics to a "T", don't have these issues because they have a dedicated fulfillment department. If you, as a small to mid sized retailer, tried to work with even a fraction of their volume, you would be overwhelmed and likely have some very upset customers. You don't have the resources to fund an efficient fulfillment team of your own.
These difficulties are exactly why fulfillment companies exist. They aim to eliminate these problems from the get-go, so you can reach your full potential as an omni channel retailer. Think of them as your fulfillment department. They do the legwork so your orders get out on time, while eliminating the headache of shipping your own products.
Inventory Visibility - If your inventory and online shop aren't integrated, these can lead to shipping difficulties, refunds, and loss of business. When an order is placed online, it's forwarded to their distribution center. The product departs from their center, and the inventory is updated accordingly. No hassle, and no mistakes.
Delivery Speed - We live in a world ruled by instant gratification. Not only are you competing with Amazon's two-day shipping, but also retail giants that allow customers to order online and pick up in store the same day. That's why most fulfillment centers have centralized locations. With improved access to either coast, you won't have to rely on expensive rush delivery services.
Complex Data at High Volumes - Let's be realistic: when you have a ton of data coming in from a flourishing retail operation, it can get a little overwhelming. You should be concentrating on running your business. Allow the fulfillment center to handle the data with their responsive technology. They are there to keep your omni channel business running smoothly.
Transportation - A trusted fulfilment center has experience shipping directly to consumers AND to other distribution centers. You need a fulfillment center that knows the ins-and-outs of shipping.
Ease of Return - Ease of return is not an afterthought to most fulfillment centers. With any omni channel operation, you have to deal with uncertain customers, or even just mistakes on their part. An easy return process means they're more likely to come back to you. Striving to have a 4-hour turnaround time for processing returns, and the integrated inventory system means you will stay up to date.
In this changing business world, you can't rely on anything less than the best. Running a smaller retail business is hard. Competing with the big guys is even harder. Allow The Service Center and our years of experience in the fulfillment business to give yourself the edge that you need against the competition. Contact us today.