Every retail employee knows the phrase: “You don’t have it in stock? I’ll just get it online.”
As a way of capturing the sale, many brick-and-mortar stores are setting up ship-to-home orders for customers. The orders are filled from the company’s distribution warehouses and then sent to the customer’s home. The sale, however, is paid for and booked in-store.
Setting up ship-to-home orders for customers in-store has both advantages and disadvantages for retailers. The greatest advantage for retailers is that ship-to-home offers a better customer experience. By leveraging their distribution network as well as their multi-channel platforms, stores can put the product in the customer’s hands under virtually any circumstance. In addition, by allowing stores to carry less inventory, ship-to-home options help retailers to manage their inventory costs. Stores expend less payroll because employees do not have to complete the tasks required to run the inventory through its cycle.
However, by offering ship-to-home, stores do take a few risks. For example, anytime a product is not immediately available, customers have an opening that allows them either to choose to obtain the product elsewhere or to decide not to purchase the product at all.
A greater risk, however, is customer shift. Offering ship-to-home allows the customer to become more educated about potential differences between in-store and online pricing. In these cases, many customers opt for the online option for future purchases, even if they have to wait a few more days for the order to arrive, because of the cost savings.
Some shift to online shopping is inevitable, and in-store employees who realize the potential for shift may feel uncomfortable offering the ship-to-home option because they fear that it could endanger their jobs. However, because the retailer often realizes an overall cost savings from the process, accepting the shift may be a necessary evil. These days, customers who carry mobile devices can easily compare in-store and online prices while they shop in a store. To stay viable, retailers will have to listen to their customers first when deciding how to balance e-commerce with brick-and-mortar offerings.