Loretta Chao has penned an excellent piece for the Wall Street Journal on seductive promise of omnichannel fulfillment - and the hurdles it presents for business and customers alike.
The flexibility of being able to order online and pick up an item in the store is an attractive prospect, but adding omnichannel fulfillment capabilities to a brick-and-mortar operation is no easy task. Often, it isn’t just about offering in-store pick-up, but also about ship-from-store delivery.
For e-retailers with storefront infrastructures, shipping directly from local stores is beneficial for several reasons. First, shipping small parcels from locations closer to the customer can reduce freight expense. Second, packing and shipping in-store can be a smart use of in-store labor to maximize profitable productivity. And third, it’s an excellent strategy for increasing inventory turnover.
But, in-store packing and shipping isn’t without its challenges. For starters, store employees aren’t as experienced at packing as those who work in large fulfillment centers, which can lead to inefficient packs that don’t adequately protect the items or convey the right brand message to the customer upon delivery.
Not to mention, these stores weren’t built with major fulfillment operations in mind. Back-of-store space was specifically kept to a minimum because the money was being made out on the floor. Look behind the scenes of a major retailer that’s undertaking local omnichannel pick-ups, returns, and local shipping and you’re likely to find a crowded mess.
The revenue potential of omnichannel fulfillment remains a powerful draw, and Sealed Air has the ability to solve these types of problems. We do it with intuitive, easy-to-use, packaging solutions (like Korrvu®, inflatable bubble, Instapak®Simple, Instapak Quick ® RT, and Jiffy Mailers®) that require little training and produce consistent, protective results no matter what environment the packages come from whether it's a large central fulfillment center or a tiny back room of a store.
More options for getting goods to consumers is a good thing, but companies that hurry to add omnichannel capabilities without investing in smart, space-efficient solutions for fulfillment may lose profits as well as customers.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.