Discover the tools to enhance your ship-from-store strategy with multi-carrier shipping software.
In the ever-evolving landscape of retail and e-commerce, meeting the demands of today's consumers is difficult. Online shoppers expect fast and convenient shipping options that align with their preferences. Many top retailers have thus implemented a Ship-From-Store (SFS) strategy to level-up their customer experience, while cost-effectively streamlining their operations. By leveraging an omnichannel fulfillment initiative to access the inventory of physical store locations, retailers can tap into a network of resources to fulfill orders more efficiently.
However, implementing a ship-from-store strategy is not as simple as just flipping a switch. It requires careful planning and detailed execution. And once utilized, it can multiply in complexity quite quickly. To effectively employ this approach, it is crucial to not only have a comprehensive plan in place but support your plan with a strategy that allows for this model to remain streamlined and seamless.
Throughout this blog, we will dive into the vital tools that contribute to simplifying and enhancing an SFS strategy. These pillars will act as a roadmap, guiding retailers through the optimization of their ship-from-store strategy.
The tech that facilitates an expert Ship-from-Store strategy
The first step to simplifying an SFS strategy is to support your supply chain technology stack with a single, central hub to efficiently manage and oversee the shipping process. With so many pieces of data to manage (inventory accuracy, visibility across multiple locations, communication channels between stores, warehouses, and carriers, etc.), retailers can streamline their operations by consolidating everything with the combination of a Multi-Carrier Shipping Software (MCSS) and Order Management System (OMS). This can help retailers avoid dealing with multiple fragmented systems and allow for improved visibility and control over everything from inventory to the actual execution of an order.
In addition, with an advanced MCSS and full enterprise software stack, retailers can easily access real-time information on stock availability and choose the most appropriate store for order fulfillment based on how close it is to the customer. This eliminates the need for manual organization between stores, in turn reducing the chances of errors or miscommunications, which could delay order processing.
The multi-carrier shipping solution allows retailers to integrate various carriers and services into a single platform, streamlining the entire shipping process. Instead of manually accessing different carrier portals or logging into separate systems for each carrier, the MCSS provides a single interface to manage all shipments efficiently. [Want to learn more about how the MCSS connects to the different pieces of a retailer’s enterprise software stack? Discover the powerful technology in our How it Works brochure.]
Single User Interface
OMSs are often already in stores to assist with curbside pickup and BOPIS solutions. As both of these processes involve shifting custody of an order from the retailer to a customer, it makes sense to simplify the SFS process by also presenting SFS orders in the same UI. Store associates have so many demands on them that keeping all of the custody exchange processes in the same software allows them to do more with the tools they are already trained on.
We've talked about the importance of combining OMS and MCSS to ensure they work well together. By integrating them, we can make the order-sourcing process more efficient and also use that integration to improve the order shipment execution process. This way, we get the most value out of both MCSS and OMS.
Automation to simplify your Ship-from-Store strategy
A robust and flexible MCSS includes advanced functionality that can automate carrier selection based on custom business rules. These rules can be created in the shipping software to set requirements, constraints, preferences, and more. With more advanced systems, they can even be configured.
One such advanced functionality that utilizes complex business rules to automate SFS processing is carrier rate shopping, which allows retailers to compare shipping costs, transit times, and service options from a selected group of carriers and services, or rate shop group, in a single user interface. This enables the automated selection or choice of the most cost-effective and time-efficient carrier based on a variety of criteria such as weight, dimensions, and destination.
And all of this happens in real-time – specifically, fractions of a second if your shipping system has the processing speed to handle it. Rate shopping provides real-time rate comparisons from different carriers, including available shipping options, service levels, and associated shipping costs. This allows retailers to select the carrier that best fits their ship-from-store strategy, considering factors like speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
Advanced Date Shopping (ADS) takes basic carrier rate shopping and expands it to include planning for delivery by a specific target, looking at 9 different data sets to maximize cost and time while meeting the delivery promise date. ADS can even contribute to a more positive customer experience. By automating carrier selection based on a brand’s unique preferences supported by custom business rules – whether that is reliable performance, lower costs, faster delivery or something else, retailers can ensure timely and consistent order fulfillment. Providing customers with multiple shipping options and pricing information within the cart empowers them to choose the delivery method that suits their needs, enhancing their experience and building customer loyalty.
Optimizing Fulfillment in a SFS strategy
SFS strategies are a part of a larger omnichannel fulfillment model, which uses inventory from multiple locations including distribution centers, stores, and third-party logistics (3PL) facilities, to shorten transit times with inventory closer to the customer.
Often, SFS strategies involve fulfilling orders from multiple store locations. MCSS can optimize order routing, because of its integration to the different pieces of the software stack and data on inventory, based on various factors such as how close it is to the customer, stock, carriers and services available, and shipping costs. By analyzing these factors and choosing the best fulfillment location, or in this case store, retailers can streamline the order fulfillment process. With the shipping solution’s ability to decide on the most efficient routes for shipments (whether that is a multiple-line order from 1 store with 1 box, 2 stores with 3 boxes, or some other combination), retailers can simplify their SFS strategy, avoiding manual intervention and achieving better operational efficiency.
Implementing a Ship-From-Store (SFS) strategy can transform the way retailers fulfill orders, providing fast and convenient shipping options to meet the delivery expectations of online shoppers. However, careful planning and the right tools are essential to ensure success. This blog post explored how technology, automation and optimized fulfillment contribute to simplifying and enhancing a SFS strategy, guiding retailers towards optimization.
In the competitive environment of retail and e-commerce, a streamlined and seamless SFS strategy can give retailers a significant advantage. By leveraging multi-carrier shipping software, retailers can find ways to enhance the customer experience, cut shipping costs, and achieve operational efficiencies for the needs of customers now and as they change in the future.
Ready to implement an SFS strategy with ProShip’s industry-leading multi-carrier shipping software? Reach out to our shipping experts today to schedule a discovery call!