How has Shipping Changed for Retailers?
Throughout the ages technology has revolutionized retail, forcing marketers to rethink traditional models of commerce. As such, retail organizations have been continuously faced with an evolving definition of the Customer Lifecycle. With this, there is substantial value and opportunities to be discovered in the world of shipping and fulfillment.
The Role of Home Delivery
In the early days of retail, around the turn of the 20th century, the main channel of commerce was the general store. Variations of this concept existed around the world and in some cases still exist today. The general store carried a broad range of merchandise, together with a very personal level of customer service. Home delivery was a valued part of the experience. Without the convenience of the ‘delivery man’, life would have been very different. Think about the importance and the role of the local milkman, who delivered dairy products to your door for over a hundred years.
The Age of Self-Service and Convenience
By the 1950’s and 1960’s, social, economic and technological factors drove new trends in the way we shop. The automobile changed our way of life, the look of our suburbs and gave rise to centralized shopping centers and department stores. The age became one of self-service and ‘convenience’. However, the traditional convenience of deliveries to your door and the era of your local milkman was lost. It would only reappear decades later when technology would once again change the way we shop.
Parcel Delivery in Today's Omnichannel Environment
Unlike pre-1950’s home delivery services, managing shipping manually in today’s omnichannel retail environment is both complex and expensive. What’s more, the cost of a poor delivery experience can affect customer loyalty among many other aspects of a retail business. To optimize the rapidly evolving journey from ‘cart to door’, one has to embrace the technology of the day. Unfortunately, many retailers are yet to come to terms with this concept.
Five Key Elements of Shipping Solutions
Shipping has an important role to play with respect to the Retail Journey and needs to include the five following aspects in order to unearth the value of fulfillment in today’s Omnichannel Customer Lifecycle:
1. Multiple carriers - reliable omnichannel fulfillment requires carrier flexibility
2. Effective processes - increasing automation can reduce your costs of shipping
3. Technology infrastructure - effective systems to support an end-to-end omnichannel shipping experience
4. Real-time inventory - visibility of inventory across your entire organization
5. Consistency across channels - a common language and uniform functionality across all interactions with your customer
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