Thriving trend: Using physical spots to offer omni-channel delivery and return options on digital marketplace

over the past decade online and mobile marketing have risen in fashion industry as well as other industries. While commerce is getting more virtual, delivering and returning of garments still keep their reality.

Shipping and returning of products might have some traditional ways; however, today’s consumer demands new and fresh offers from retail companies. Therefore, that chapter of supply chain playbook is being rewritten in accordance with the customer’s expectations by fashion retailers.

Fashion is an art but at the same time it is an industry. The players are in a competition to fulfill their customers’ needs in the best and the fastest mode. But rapidly shifting consumers’ demand and fast-paced technological development are new challenges for the fashion actors. Nowadays they are racing for not only supplying trendy collections and good quality wearable products but also chasing the fashion tech.

In particular, mobile commerce (m-commerce) is increasing its volume in fashion ecosystem. According to the survey prepared by Business of Fashion and McKinsey showed the consumers have been becoming more friendly with mobile devices than desktops in their digital time.

For instance, the time spent on mobile (46 minutes) and desktop (51 minutes) devices were very close to each other in 2014. But the prediction about next year indicates that spending time on mobile devices will increase to 113 minutes while using desktop tools will decrease to 27 minutes.

The impact of those results has introduced mobile applications to digital fashion market. Recently, many fashion brands have presented consumer-friendly applications to mobilized buyers. Now having a web store in handbags is the new norm of e-business in fashion sector. But all those e-trade options come with a basic outcome which is handing in the products to the online shoppers.


untitledA web store in the client’s handbag is the new norm of e-business in fashion sector.”


Though sending the purchased goods to the customer’s house seems the best solution it doesn’t fit to all, especially for the people who work during the week and even on Saturdays. For those receiving a good at home becomes a challenge. They have to collect their order from the carrier’s distribution spots. When it is considered that many retailers have different delivery partners, the challenge grows for an online buyer shopping from different websites.

Fortunately, there are some participants in the sector such as Amazon, Uber, and Deliv whose delivery services are differing from traditional carriers by flexibility. Sundip Naik, Vice President of Supply Chain, Business Transformation Services for consulting firm Capgemini in Atlanta, says “These newer entrants not only provide more delivery options, but also offer different services, such as delivery after 7 pm., when consumers are home.” That could be better solution for a working busy persona.

On the other hand, increasing online shopping decreases the foot-traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. That is the other side of the coin which the fashion business has to face with.


untitledIncreasing online shopping decreases the foot-traffic in physical stores.”


To overcome this challenge has driven e-retailers to follow ship-to-store strategy as a new trend of shipment policy which allows to turn the issue into a profit. The profit of this idea not only reduces the delivery cost for both sides but also rises the traditional stores’ customer population that might increase the non-internet sales. A UPS survey indicated 46% of shoppers who picked up online orders in physical stores shopped for extra items on the spot.

With this kind of approach, ship-to-store is a good object to establish connection between online and offline sales as well. But fashion market players still need to create new alternatives. One of those is varying spots to collect online orders such as drive-through pickup, curb-side pickup, and locker pickup.

For example, Curb-side is an application coming with the convenience of purchasing from its different retail partners. After shopping on a smartphone or a tablet the user could collect his items from a Curb-side spot. The facility of the app is that the customer doesn’t have to park the car, and doesn’t have to spend extra time to pay.

In short, online shopping is easy, fast, and free. Although it evolves all those facilities it has still two dimensions. However, the fashion sector has gained another dimension by using virtual reality, its usage is limited. Surely, the idea of watching the brand’s last catwalk via those glasses in available spots is guiding the client to stores.

But its ability can not move on beyond that point due to today’s technical capacity and its expensive cost. Chief Innovation Officer Guillaume Charny-Brunet of Space 10 says “Once this technology is acceptable, a whole world of possibility opens up to retailers, and many other industries, to reinvent the way we used to do business.” That means we still have to keep waiting to try on a dress by using 3D VR glasses at our place before purchasing it online.

Even though we could look at, touch, and try on clothes, shoes, and etc. in stores we might return them. So it’s not very difficult to guess how huge the return rate of e-commerce and m-commerce would be.

As an example; January 5, informally called National Returns Day, the delivery companies send back the goods to retailers which are returned by purchasers. This year’s expectations are higher than last year. According to UPS it is expected to reach 1.3 million packages rather than 1 million packs on the same day in 2016. And this number is only for UPS so take a consideration of other carrier firms over the world.


untitledWe buy then we return.”


In that case the reality is that we buy then we return. On the account of that a flexible and clear return policy gains importance both online and in stores.

The consumer still prefers to receive their orders most likely at houses. On the contrary, most of the consumers prefer to return good by using physical stores. Only 40 percent of shoppers choose to ship back to retailer. So providing in-store return might be another case to enhance traditional spots’ sales as well as its foot-traffic.

If an old-fashioned store is a good player to multiply channels of delivery and return policy, what could be done by an online-only participants to vary shipment channels in both ways?

For instance showrooms. Though we are used to see them in furniture, and automobile industries, they might be used in online fashion landscape as well. In showroom model, a digital-only player could sell products online whereas display them both online and in showrooms.

By this way, they could let the clients look at garments, touch fabric, and try on dresses, shoes, shirts, etc. After all clients might buy their choice through online or mobile. In addition, it could be utilized as a delivery and return spot. Thus a digital-only player could gain the ability to diverse the shipment channels, too.

In my opinion, if a showroom were set up to use in that way (ship-to-showroom / return-to-showroom), it would be better to locate it on an easily accessible street-level place to address especially working busy clients’ needs. So they could get in the showroom easily, look around quickly, deliver/return items freely perhaps in their lunch-break.

It doesn’t matter how much digital our shopping style is, delivery and return processes still maintain their physical identity. Because of this, carrying physical spots on digital fashion stage is the key factor of creating multi-channel delivery policy and return. At the same time connecting your enterprise’s virtual and real sides to each other might carry your brand further.


Resources:
The State of Fashion 2017
UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper
Clicks to Bricks: Online Retailers Find the Lure of a Store
Retail Logistics: When Fast Isn’t Fast Enough
Shopping app Curbside just raised $25 million to help you never wait in line again
Future Of Retail: Artificial Intelligence And Virtual Reality Have Big Roles To Play
‘National Returns Day’ Is A Lesson For All Businesses


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