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Convenience Retailing: Why Store Fulfillment is Do-or-Die

Posted by Amanda Nadile on Sep 14, 2021

DTC retailers were not consulted when The Rolling Stones famously said, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” And they surely weren’t considering DTC retail brands taking advantage of omnichannel store experiences like store fulfillment—a key driver in customer retention and satisfaction for retailers today.

Convenience is King for Customer Satisfaction

Strapped for time and concerned only with getting what they want fast, shoppers expect convenience in every interaction with your brand. Convenience is interwoven with customer satisfaction for modern consumers, yet these situations happen all too often in retail. 

Creating convenient, and therefore satisfying, customer interactions is do-or-die for retailers. Fail, and as many as 91% of unsatisfied customers will leave your brand.

Value creates value. Providing shoppers with convenient, genuinely delightful shopping experiences means they’re more likely to stick with you (and spend with you). After all, a lifetime customer is a profitable customer. It’s a true win-win. To offer real value and truly satisfy customers, retailers must lean into what customers want—convenient, modern store fulfillment solutions.

How Does Store Fulfillment Add Value?

Pickup In-Store

It is no surprise, convenient fulfillment options were top of the order in our recent customer expectation survey—68% of consumers expect to be able to buy in one store and pick up from another. And 67% expect to be able to purchase something currently unavailable, go home, and have it shipped to them from the store. 

Customers never want to hear “no” and they don’t care about the “how” as long as they get what they want, how they want. Last mile delivery matters, and seamless store fulfillment enables you to choose the closest fulfillment location to your customer, keeping the time your products are in transit and not in your customers’ hands to an absolute minimum. 

Fueled and accelerated by COVID-19, retailers are under pressure to prioritize and improve fulfillment capabilities not only as a point of differentiation, but also safety. Contact is still a touchy issue (pun intended) and long queues and waiting periods in-stores can be a deterrent for some customers. Store fulfillment services like BOPIS (click-n-collect) and ship-from-store cut out the hassle and the risk. Customers love the convenience of skipping merrily past long queues, grabbing their order, and dashing home to enjoy it. Minimal waiting, minimal contact.

Omnichannel Returns

However much we wish it weren’t true, returns will forever be a reality of retail. Our survey data revealed 51% of consumers expect store associates to be able to return or exchange an online order in-store without a receipt and 43% expect to be able to return or exchange an item in any of a brand’s stores. Omnichannel returns and exchanges enable cross-channel returns in one transaction, from one system. A few quick taps on an iPhone, and an in-store associate has it all squared away so customers never have to jump through hoops to get their money back.

Health-conscious or not, 72% of shoppers still rate the in-store experience as most important when shopping. Housing order processing and customer service under the same roof may divide staff attention and negatively impact customer experience if not handled correctly. Therefore, it’s important you ensure convenience by leveraging other omnichannel solutions like endless aisle and mobile checkout.

Does Omnichannel Store Fulfillment Make Sense for Your Business?

Huge retailers are making headlines by turning their stores into distribution centers. For example, Target fulfilled 90% of their total sales through their stores in Q2 2020. Goorin Bros, a NewStore customer and iconic American hat brand, fulfilled 60% of units shipped from its stores in Q4 2020. And, 52% of the brand’s sales were from units shipped from stores. (Read the full Goorin Bros case study here.)

So, if it works for them, will store fulfillment work for you? To find the answer, you first need to define a couple of things.

Whether it’s boosting sales or profitability, reducing time to customer or non-productive inventory, or just boosting gross margin return on inventory investment. Identifying your aims must come before upscaling your fulfillment. What you can do and what you should do will differ.

Next, decide where you want to get to. Is there a benchmark figure for store fulfillment orders you want to reach? Do you plan to focus on customer retention above all else, and are you willing to forfeit customer acquisition in the short-term to do so?

The short of it is, store fulfillment is do-or-die. It’s a matter of when, not if. It drives more traffic, increases productivity, and satisfies customers. It’s a must. 

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