How has Omnichannel Order Fulfillment Helped Brands in the Pandemic?
Retailers “crawl, walk, and run” when adopting an omnichannel strategy. But this is history, as such a slow transformation to omnichannel was observed long before the pandemic. The brands were skeptical about changing gears and adopted a "wait and watch" strategy for omnichannel transformation rather than launching and projecting their omnichannel capabilities as an industry first. When the retail market swiftly changed to ecommerce, the time was ripe to counter ecommerce by switching to omnichannel order fulfillment strategies.
Some of the top retailers swiftly upgraded their operational capabilities to omnichannel in 2019. So, today, the crawl phase is brief, walking comes swiftly, and the retailers are suddenly running. As a result, today's phase in the retail industry is more like "jog, run, sprint."
What is Omnichannel Order Fulfillment?
Omnichannel order fulfillment is a proven method to fulfill customer orders using different channels and get the products quickly into the hands of customers. It ensures that the retail company utilizes all the offline and online channels that work well together to process orders smoothly.
A brand can utilize any of these selling channels, like virtual marketplaces, ecommerce websites, physical stores, and social media sites, to fulfill a customer order. The last two years have changed customer shopping habits to such an extent that omnichannel fulfillment is now a must-have for retail brands.
Customer dependency on brick-and-mortar retail stores has waned as their trust in this channel was shaken during the lockdown, and they expect more channels to shop from in any situation.
Retailers currently employ a wide range of popular omnichannel order fulfillment strategies that have immensely helped revive the overall business in the retail industry, like curbside pickup, Buy online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), ship from the nearest store, home delivery, or buy-online-return in-store.
How did Omnichannel Order Fulfillment Strategies help Brands in a Pandemic?
These omnichannel order fulfillment strategies were widely adopted by retail firms worldwide, assisting them in reclaiming lost sales during the pandemic as a result of lockdown and social distancing measures.
Curbside pickup at the retail store surged 208% during the Coronavirus pandemic, making it one of the most popular omnichannel order fulfillment strategies in the last two years. Some major retailers that used curbside pickup to eliminate shopping delays are Apple, Best Buy, Kohl's, and Neiman Marcus.
Inorbit Mall in India introduced curbside pickup that will enable customers to make selections, make online payments, and drive through to the mall at the designated time to collect their shopping bags.
Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)
BOPIS, or Click and Collect retail sales, is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 15 percent until 2024. Best Buy is an excellent example of a retailer that has embraced buying online and picking up in-store. Shipping information and pickup alternatives are clearly shown throughout the buyer's journey on their website.
Another example is that third-party sellers on the Amazon marketplace can now offer buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and delivery services from their brick and mortar operations.
Ship from the store
Ship from the store turns stores into agile fulfillment centers. In a recent survey of 124 retailers, 41% of respondents said ‘ship from store’ was a futuristic delivery innovation that would make a good fit for their customer proposition.
Target has gained immense popularity in the trade media for its approach to shipping from stores. The company has consolidated its inventory across channels and is continuing to optimize its replenishment strategy. The order fulfillment strategy paid off in 2020, when the pandemic made in-store shopping questionable for shoppers.
Retail Brands that used Omnichannel Order Fulfillment to Grow Their Business During the Pandemic
Omnichannel fulfillment strategy used by Nykaa: Hyperlocal deliveries, shop online, and try it in Nykaa's brick-and-mortar stores.Nykaa plans to capture market share in India’s overall cosmetics and fashion market, which is expected to be valued at INR 14.1 trillion by 2025.
The company has an impactful online presence but is quickly expanding offline as it plans to strengthen its offline presence and open 300 physical stores in 2022. The retailer's omnichannel strategy is to expand to offline channels that offer a trial of products and cater to consumers who prefer to try cosmetics, beauty, and fashion products before purchasing them.
Nykaa was sitting on a large inventory during the pandemic due to closed physical stores. They utilized the hyperlocal deliveries directly from Nykaa stores, which turned them into mini-warehouses. This strategy helped sell Nykaa’s unutilized in-store inventory, countered demand suppression from tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 cities during the pandemic, significantly reducing their supply chain costs.
Another excellent example of implementing an omnichannel strategy is Fynd, which has kickstarted hyperlocal deliveries on MaginPin, in the fashion segment with Spykar, W & Aurelia already live on the platform.
Retail brands can amaze their clients by meeting their urgent demands with lightning-fast deliveries to their doorsteps by sourcing products directly from the closest store to the customer’s location. Fynd’s StoreOS's hyperlocal delivery model also enables retailers to reduce their logistical load by minimizing cost and time and serving a greater number of customers.
Omnichannel fulfillment strategy used by Nordstrom: Local stores specifically for omni fulfillment Nordstrom launched the Nordstrom local stores local stores for omnichannel fulfillment in crucial locations in Manhattan and Los Angeles.
Unlike other physical retail stores in the market, Nordstrom's local focus is on providing services and offering no inventory to customers for sales. Customers who visit Nordstrom local stores spend 2.5 times more and account for 30% of online order pickup. They can get access to numerous services, like
- Style consultations
- Alterations from on-site tailors
- Shoe, handbag, and leather shoe repairs
- Pickups and returns
- Gifts wrapping
- Help in shopping online
Everything they order from a local Nordstrom department store can be brought to the customer at the local store in a few hours.
Rothy's omnichannel fulfillment strategy: Ship from stores that act as convenient drop-offs for customers returning a product Rothy's, the digitally native shoe brand, is available at six retail locations in Los Angeles and New York.
The majority of their customers still prefer to shop with the brand on online channels. So, if they have to return a product to the company, where do they go as they don't have access to the nearby Rothy's brick-and-mortar store to return or exchange the product.
To solve this problem, Rothy partnered with Happy Returns, a trusted third-party, that offers a quick and seamless way to make free, contactless returns and exchanges. The sustainable solution is used for aggregated shipping and reusable packaging, which saves a considerable amount of business investment in procuring products from suppliers as customers use Happy Returns to return the products.
Customers can start their return online by receiving a QR code, locating a return bar near their location, and then being ready to go! Rothy’s return bars offer a contact-free, label-free, and box-free return experience to the customers, helping them enjoy a contactless shopping experience and maintain social distancing norms as well
Image: Rothy’s Return Bars To return Rothy’s items in person, shoppers follow five contactless steps:
1) Extend their phone to the store associate, called a "Returnista," to scan their personalized QR code.
2) Hold up their items so the Returnista can visually validate them.
3) Insert their items into a small bag.
4) Allow the Returnista to scan the bag’s QR code.
5) Place the bagged items in Happy Returns' reusable totes, which are part of the industry's only cardboard-free returns program.
Once done, shoppers receive refunds immediately and complete the process in under 60 seconds per item.
The pandemic has rewritten the business rules in the retail industry. The once favourite and evergreen brick and mortar retail stores struggle to keep up as the world moves online. The omnichannel order fulfillment strategy has proven to be a winner for retail brands trying to keep their ship afloat after the pandemic.
It has proven to be a win-win differentiation strategy to compete with ecommerce brands by offering multiple convenient channels, including brick-and-mortar stores that fulfill orders quickly for a seamless shopping experience in a safe and contactless manner.
Fynd has been recognized as one of the ten most innovative companies of 2022 in the Asia-Pacific region for connecting brick-and-mortar retailers with online customers.
We have helped more than 1000 brands and 10,000 retail stores on their exciting omnichannel journey. Book a Demo or Contact Us to learn how omnichannel order fulfillment can help your retail brand grow sales using multiple sales channels.