FAQ: Retail Ship-To-Store
Retail ship-to-store is an option merchants can use to provide in-store pickup services. Although not as ideal as leveraging in-store merchandise to fulfill pickup orders, it is an improvement over not providing the service at all. Both options frequently result in additional sales while the customer is in your store. In a basic form, retail ship-to-store resembles a full BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store) offering. While the process between the two is different behind the scenes, from the consumers' point of view, they should NOT be able to tell the difference.
Questions about retail ship-to-store were either directly sent to us, discussed with prospects, or taken from Google's query stream. These are several frequently asked questions (FAQ) customers typed in before finding OrderDynamics' Distributed Order Management technology.
Q: What is BOSS?
BOSS is the short form for buy online ship-to-store (BOSS). In fact, this is becoming increasingly popular as the revitalized retail ship-to-store model.
From a customer's perspective, there is no difference between BOSS and buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS). The processes for the customer are the same. In both cases, the customer opts to pick up in-store and usually gets 'free shipping' regardless of the order size. The difference comes in on the merchant's back-end.
Think of BOPIS as the more intelligent form of in-store pickup. It relies on a Distributed Order Management system (DOM) to determine if a customer's ordered goods are already available in the store inventory. If the requested stock is available at the store, it will then use the physical store inventory to fulfill the pickup order. This completely cuts out the shipping cost - both internal and last mile. If the brick and mortar stores do not have the inventory - then it is routed from the distribution center or another location capable of fulfilling the requested quantity.
In the case of BOSS, all online orders are shipped to the retail stores. There is no issue when the store is out of stock (OOS) of that particular good, but it is a wasted effort if the merchandise has in-store inventory. Worse yet, it is a shame when a store has too much inventory of a particular item, and yet has another item sent to it from the warehouse - for a BOSS order.
Read more about this in:
Is BOSS the new BOPIS? by Supply Chain Dive
BOPIS & Ship-To-Store – NOT the Same!
Q: Why are Merchants Using Retail Ship-to-Store?
In short, because customers are demanding it. It results in incremental upsells, and more and more retailers are embracing customer choice and omni-channel solutions. Retail ship-to-store is a way to give customers what they want, and it is another omni-channel feature that should be available to savvy customers. Additionally, it is an easy way for most retailers to provide BOPIS (buy online and in-store pickup) with lighter order management technology. As pointed out, when a store already has ample supply of an item, it is disconcerting, a cost and a waste of resources to ship yet another of that same item to the store. A good DOM (Distributed Order Management) system will allow you to protect stock for walk-in customers while also allowing you to clear merchandise from a location that may be over-stocked.
It is far better to offer retail ship-to-store as a light omnichannel option, than not to do so. At the very least, it entices purchases online to drive traffic at the local store. Foot traffic is a good thing, given that 40% - 60% of in-store pickups result in additional purchases.
Q: What Does Ship-to-Store Fulfillment Mean?
Retail ship-to-store fulfillment basically means delivering goods to customers by leveraging stores as an asset. From the customer perspective, it may be a way for them to avoid shipping fees. Retailers' offers should encourage in-store pickup, as they too share in the cost of shipping goods when the customer reaches the free delivery threshold.
Highlighted earlier, fulfillment using retail ship-to-store encourages purchases of items online to be picked up, but there is also another scenario. If a customer wants an item to be held for pickup. Yet that particular store does not have the merchandise. The DOM can route goods from other nearby stores to it, preferably the overstocked locations, to complete the online sales.
Using retail ship-to-store by leveraging other store inventory is a smart move. It requires a more sophisticated Order Management System (like OrderDynamics!). This effectively provides endless aisle, while using existing stores' resources. For store managers this is very positive news; it improves stock turnover, in-store inventory is kept fresh and it can also provide credit to the store for the merchandise flow. Naturally, it also encourages customers to buy goods that they do not perceive as out of stock.
An Episerver study showed that when an item has incomplete content, 98% of customers go elsewhere for that purchase.
More on retail ship-to-store fulfillment:
Ship From Store - Why Proper Processes are Important
What Exactly is Pick, Pack and Ship from Store?
What Exactly is Omnichannel Fulfillment?
Q: Is Ship-to-Store the new BOPIS?
Retail ship-to-store is one tactic in the omni-channel retail set of options. It is a good way for retailers who do not have an omni-channel retail offering to get into the game. A good order management system will use retail ship-to-store as an option for fulfillment, along with other options. It then optimizes for each order considering locations, stock levels, priorities, etc., or perhaps even a combination of those factors.
It is the new BOPIS for all those retailers who could not pull it off before. Although it is a good starting point, retailers are encouraged NOT to stop there. Get your retail ship-to-store up and operational. Then keep building your systems to provide a fully functional BOPIS process. Certainly, the first step is a solid distributed order management (DOM) like the OrderDynamics solution.
If you have a further question about retail ship-to-store, or any other retail/order management related question - please send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you with an answer as soon as we can... and it might even inspire our next blog post!
Chris Peter is Senior Product Manager at OrderDynamics. Chris has 20+ years experience in Software Development and Product/Project Management, specializing in the development, management, implementation and support of enterprise level omni-channel and self-service solutions.
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