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With the continued growth in online shopping, retailers are trying to figure out how best to fulfill e-commerce orders. A recent survey shows that distribution centers are the most common method for fulfilling e-commerce orders – 63% percent use a traditional DC and 46% use a web-only DC (respondents could choose more than one option). The third most popular method is to fulfill from the store (43%). There are two main options for store fulfillment: in-store pick-up and ship from store.
The majority of companies adopt a combination approach to store fulfillment. First, 68% of survey respondents pick orders at the store and ship them directly to the customer. To the customer, this experience is no different than if the retailer was shipping from a DC; the order shows up at their door at a specific time. The overall process of ordering online and having the product delivered does not change. The second method, adopted by 64% of respondents, is to pick items at the store and hold them for in-store pick-up. This is the method that most consumers are familiar with. Retailers have two options for picking store items: front of store and back of store. Picking orders from the back of the store means associates are picking items at the stores before the inventory hits the shelves. The other method is to pick items from the front of the store, which involves a store associate picking items from racks and shelves out on the store floor. Updating and maintaining accurate inventory counts be-comes more difficult as store merchandise is picked.
The other alternative for store fulfillment is to have orders shipped to the store from a DC for customer pick-up. This requires some of the same processes as regular in-store pick-up, with an added layer of coordination between the store and DC. Forty-six % of survey respondents indicated they use this type of process for in-store fulfillment.
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