Shopping online is super-convenient, offers enormous selection, and is 'always on.' But shopping in-store offers benefits that online shopping can't match: assembly, fitting, secure delivery, ongoing services, and more.
Shoppers don't like picking one or the other; they'd prefer both.
The best way to enable 24/7 shopping with safe deliveries, expert assembly, and/or professional fitting is to turn a brand's wholesale distribution into a network of service locations with an Amazon-Locker-like in-store pickup option available for the shopper to choose at the online point-of-purchase.
Let's imagine a scenario:
A shopper is interested in buying a roof rack for a hard-to-fit SUV. Despite having absolutely zero mechanical prowess, they manage to find the exact model for the vehicle online, but the local dealer doesn't carry this particular rack in their store. Plus, having a giant package shipped to an apartment complex is going to take way too long, cost way too much, and be way too risky to leave sitting out in public all day.
So, is the shopper forced to choose between two half-options? Or can there be another way?
Over a year ago, Locally began building a Ship-to-Store solution for a bike industry client. That solution enables the shopper to browse the warehouse selection of the brand on their site, but instead of having it shipped to the home of the shopper, the future bike owner picks a local dealer where the bike will be shipped. Once the store accepts the sale, their local mechanic assembles the purchase, and the mutual customer is alerted for pickup.
Let's review some of the obvious benefits for the three parties involved, the brand, the store, and the customer:
- Convenient online shopping / marketing
- Payment is accepted and sale confirmed before the shopper goes to the store
- The item is shipped to a secure commercial delivery address
- Commercial freight rates can be up to 50% less
- Expert assembly
- Expert fitting
- Brand and Store work as partners (like peanut butter & chocolate, they each complement the other's strengths)
- Revenue split is handled dynamically by Locally
- Returns are more convenient for shopper
- Store is more likely to support brands who are true partners with them
Solutions focused on shoppers
It really doesn't take a lot of deep analysis to discover that this is a solution shoppers already support and will continue to adopt. Walk into a neighborhood grocery and you're likely to see a bank of lockers where shoppers can pick up packages they don't want left in an insecure location. Or compare what it will cost to ship a single kayak to a person's suburban home vs a local kayak dealer's commercial loading dock. Or try to order a pair of ski boots online without access to a professional bootfitter.
These things just don't work very well. But make no mistake, the customer still wants all of it: enormous/convenient selection, expert service, AND convenient-but-affordable logistics.
When we set ourselves down the path to develop the optimal shopper-facing solution for this type of transaction, we tried to uncover all of the various ways a shopper might engage. Obviously, a user starting on a brand site is going to be one of the most popular paths, but our solution will also accomodate situations where a user starts on a retailer's site.
Locally Ship-to-Store can even accomodate users discovering extended inventory assortments on social media, in search results, and in some of our newest marketing efforts, such as our integration with Google Surfaces. It even works with our most advanced retailer solution: PushCart
OK. But when would shoppers want to use this?
✔ Local Stock + Brand Stock
Shoppers have insight into what is available in-stock at local stores before making their buying decision. If an item is unavailable, the choice to have it sent to a local dealer for pick up is an easy one. If the item is available at the local dealer, Locally ensures the stock on hand is presented to the shopper.
✔ More Secure Shipping
This is perfect for shipping expensive merchandise with a significant risk of loss, such as jewelry or electronics. Use your local dealer network to receive and secure the shipment, then check IDs before releasing the package.
✔ Included Assembly
Many online shoppers just bail on online purchases that require significant assembly, such as bikes, roof racks, or barbecue pits. And it's very likely that they will end up at a local retailer trying to buy these items. But there's no guarantee that the store they visit sells your brand.
✔ Custom Fitting
Some products require an expert fit to work properly. Ski boots or a backpack that hasn't been fit properly will very likely lead to an unpleasant end user experience. And bad product experiences often translate to negative reviews and loss of shopper goodwill and affinity.
✔ Forward Deliveries
Occassionally, a shopper may want a package delivered to an address where they WILL be in the future. Perhaps they want to pick up a new fly rod at a local shop and have it prepared for the week's adventures. Locally creates this option in collaboration with its retailer base.
✔ Saved Shipping Costs
Finally, the most pragmatic reason to enable Ship-to-Store is simply because some items aren't practical to ship to a customer's home. Trying to send a big item like a kayak to an residential address can be both really expensive and ultra-risky due to the likelihood of damage.
Stores & Brands
If you are interested in enabling your store to provide assembly, delivery, or fitting services, make sure you are wired up to share inventory and accept transactions. We can't process payments for retailers who haven't enabled Buy It Locally, and we doubt you want to take a sale for an item you already have in stock (so we need to know this information).
If you are a brand and think shoppers would benefit from a full-service logistics solution, Ship-to-Store is an add-on to our basic service. The fees for this service are mostly transaction-based without any major up-front costs or long-term contracts. Just drop us your contact information if you'd like a quick, no-obligation quote. Unfortunately, we can't respond to emails from free email services (like Gmail, Yahoo, and others), so be sure to use your company's domain.