A trend is exploding with e-commerce companies that also have brick-and-mortar stores: fulfilling online orders through local stores. What is the role of the packaging station for these omni-channel businesses?
A new approach to e-commerce order processing
The internet has made it possible for consumers (and businesses) to purchase an unthinkable amount of goods and services in just a few clicks. With 80% of consumers shopping online retailers of all shapes and sizes are getting in on the action. For companies that are succeeding in their brick-and-mortar stores, the barrier of entry to sell online is seemingly minimal: set up an e-commerce store and start taking orders.
Think again: the logistical components of e-commerce order processing are the most challenging component. This process is even more dynamic for big box stores with multiple large distribution centers – because of the way goods are stocked, this could result in an e-commerce order demanding goods from multiple locations. Smaller retailers have the ability to participate in the e-commerce game as well, but have a different set of challenges (i.e. unable to leverage economies of scale with packaging products and shipping costs, lack of resources, etc.).
Introduce the multi-channel or omni-channel model. When an e-commerce order is placed, the closest brick-and-mortar location (that is stocked with the items ordered) is alerted. The order is then processed in this location by the in-store staff and shipped from the store. This process is also referred to as ship-from-store.
Companies are already facing high pressure to manufacture and source with US based resources which often means higher rent costs and higher costs of goods (in comparison with sourcing abroad).
At the same time, the pressure has never been higher to provide immediacy with every good and service. Customers want to receive their e-commerce orders as quickly as they would if they purchased in-store.
The multi-channel model addresses both of the issues above. When stores nearby are fulfilling e-commerce orders, the large distribution centers can save on space and, therefore, rent/leasing costs and other taxes. Free same day shipping meets consumer demands with a noticeable impact on order volume, conversion rates, basket values and basket sizes, and customer loyalty.
Ship-from-store also alleviates pressures on the large distribution centers to create systems to fulfill volumes of orders. While omni-channel solves many problems in the order fulfillment processes in e-commerce, it must be implemented and managed carefully to deliver the expected positive results.
How is an omni-channel strategy created?
When a company is ready to integrate ship-from-store order processing, the implementation and management processes must be created.
This starts with implementing the e-commerce order processing system for designating the appropriate store to fulfill the order. Important considerations include: distance between store and delivery address and in-store inventory of products ordered.
After the orders are received by the in-store staff, the items must be gathered and prepared for shipping. This is where the packaging station comes in.
Why is the packaging station a critical component in order fulfillment?
If products are not packaged correctly, both the company and the customer will face a loss. When products are damaged, companies have to worry about replacing the order and staffing a “returns/refunds” team, as well as a tarnished reputation. Meanwhile the customer will be delayed from receiving important deliveries and will possibly lose money as well. Even if there is no potential for damage, e-commerce orders that are not packaged efficiently will have higher costs down the line when it’s time to ship.
The packaging station provides a fully-stocked area for in-store packaging of e-commerce orders. It includes the correct materials to measure, select, and protect your products before they are shipped to your customers.
When you partner with Hughes for your packaging station, you will receive a custom designed packaging station that is equipped with all of the materials that your in-store staff will need. We also evaluate your SKUs vs. volume to ensure that your packaging stations are not over or understocked.
Proper understanding of how to package effectively (i.e. volume of protective packaging vs product size and weight, dim weight considerations, etc.) is a key component to the success of the omni-channel model, so we also provide instructions and support for the in-store staff. This streamlined approach creates standardization with your packing process so all customers can expect the same great outcome, every time.
Talk to one of our packaging professionals today to learn how you can improve your in-store packaging process with one of our customized packaging stations.