Store-based or in-store fulfillment is a system of satisfying product orders within a storefront that is also accessible to regular customers. This practice differs from more typical logistical setups where businesses process and send out products with separate warehouses that are devoted to order fulfillment. The reasoning behind why some companies might choose to apply in-store fulfillment is that it seems to increase convenience for customers by providing them with alternate channels through which they may receive goods. With it, businesses can offer curbside pickup and same-day delivery. In practice, however, there are multiple reasons to avoid store-based fulfillment.
An organized fulfillment center helps a business keep track of inventory at all times and record the constant changes that it undergoes as products move in and out. Conversely, stores usually don’t typically track inventory on the sales floor because walk-in customers’ actions affect it. When they take an item off a shelf and put it in a cart, there isn’t an established system that makes this clear to staff. Therefore, employees do not have a completely accurate idea of what items are in stock at any given time when orders come in. This confusion could lead to wasted time as workers look for items that have just run out. It can also cause missed opportunities when they deny orders on products that they believe to be gone but are actually still present in the store.
Whereas the primary goal of a devoted warehousing space is to accommodate order processing as efficiently as possible, customer service is king in a store. As such, store-based fulfillment effectively splits the attention of staff in two directions. They must meet the needs of people who are walking around and buying items in the store while also preparing online orders. As a result, customers in the store may not have the most positive experience since store workers are more frequently unavailable to help with questions and issues.
At a glance, shipping product from each store that is part of a business may appear to accelerate delivery capabilities with no drawbacks. After all, with each store fulfilling orders, the places of origin for those products may be closer to a customer’s address.
In actuality, this system may be more trouble than it’s worth, which is another reason to avoid store-based fulfillment. A single ecommerce fulfillment center in a nearby area can still provide quick shipping times without any of the massive restructuring and efficiency struggles that stores must face when they take up fulfillment. Going with an e-commerce fulfillment partner that has multiple warehouses spread around different regions should be sufficient in most cases.
Port Logistics Group has experience professionals available to help answer any additional questions, contact us today. Our national footprint enables partnered brands to quickly, and efficiently, deliver orders to customers in the U.S. and beyond.