Customers may not fully understand the complexity of retail shipping, but they certainly see its impact when something goes wrong. Whether it’s a late-arriving package at home, or a store that’s run out of a desired product, bad shipping can easily lead to frustrated customers.
That’s why real-time shipping visibility, which covers both inbound and outbound fulfillment, is such an asset to retailers. On the inbound side, visibility allows you to track inventory as it moves from a distribution center to the store. On the outbound side, it’s all about customer experience. Is each order trackable from a distribution center to a store, between stores, or straight to a customer’s home?
In both cases, real-time visibility gives you the option to increase the speed of shipping, reduce labor costs, optimize carrier selection for speed and price and earn customer loyalty through greater shipping flexibility and reliability. Here’s what you need to know.
A New Perspective on Your Delivery Network
Transporting inventory requires multi-leg shipment. A product has to get from a manufacturer, through the distribution network, before it finally arrives at the store. A lot goes into that process, including order sourcing and labor and inventory management.
Real-time visibility of the entire process lets you optimize efficiency and costs. You can pinpoint the number of people you need in a warehouse or in-store to efficiently manage your average order volume. You can better manage the movement of inventory between distribution centers and re-imagine how you use in-store floor space to maximize store profitability.
Additionally, optimizing carrier selection also allows you to achieve better distribution costs, a benefit that also carries over to your customers in the form of affordable shipping.
Keeping Customers Happy with Great Shipping
Speaking of your customers, real-time visibility enables retailers to offer more flexible and appealing shipping options.
For example, one study found 61 percent of U.S. retailers offer ship-to-store, an option that up to 70 percent of shoppers say they are open to. Retailers also need to start thinking about how they can fulfill same- or two-day home delivery, something that could be made easier if you could turn actual stores into distribution centers.
That’s possible with better visibility of your fulfillment system. You can optimize carriers, rates and routes to gain the shortest distance between distribution centers and improve product selection closer to the customer. Carrier selection also allows you to tap into specialty carriers when appropriate, which is key if you’re selling high-value items like jewelry, high-end fashion, or antiques.
With the right infrastructure and fulfillment capabilities, you can change not only how you manage your operators, but also how you serve customers. It’s the right way forward in an environment where consumers are taking a harder look than ever at shipping.
Ready to optimize your shipping network and, learn how Complete™ Shipping from Pitney Bowes helps retailers reduce transportation costs and increase customer satisfaction? Meet with one of our experts today for an online demonstration.