As the U.S. economy revs into high gear and pandemic restrictions lift, retail customers are getting off their couches and returning in-person to their favorite stores.
According to Raydiant’s second annual State of Consumer Behavior Report last year:
- 33% of respondents prefer shopping at physical stores because they like to view, touch, and interact with physical products
- 26% enjoy the overall shopping experience that a physical location provides
- 13% like the immediacy that in-store shopping provides
That said, consumers still value the ease and convenience of online shopping. More than half (62%) of U.S. consumers with Internet access now shop online at least once a month—and 83% are satisfied overall with their online shopping experiences. So the question is: how are brick and mortar retailers meeting consumers’ dynamic needs?
Target is the perfect example of a brick-and-mortar retailer that understands its audience. Even before the pandemic, the company embraced a savvy one-stop-shop approach, where customers can find everything from groceries and toiletries to prescriptions and furniture in their local store. Even better, they offer many choices about how to make purchase decisions—online ordering, delivery, and pickup.
Now more than ever, the Targets of the world double as stores and mini-fulfillment centers. Their ability to manage inventory, replenish stock, and forecast demand presents new challenges—and opportunities. With the right logistics partner, brick and mortar retailers are uniquely positioned to meet consumer demand and thrive. Let’s take a high-level look at how final mile delivery factors into brick and mortar retailers’ success.
New opportunities to meet consumers’ dynamic needs
As shoppers return to the aisles, retailers are increasingly attuned to consumers’ dynamic needs. According to a recent report from the National League of Cities on the future of retail, “The flexibility of shopping from the location most convenient for the customer will remain a primary driver of sales.”
Brick and mortar retailers can’t supply consumers with the products they need without the proper inventory on-hand. But, to a large extent, inventory management depends on timely delivery. Consider one consumer use case:
Imagine a shopper visits their favorite local clothing store searching for a medium-sized green sweater. The store manager tells the shopper they don’t have that particular size or color in stock, but it’s available at another location 40 miles away. Not wanting to drive almost an hour, the consumer has two options: ship it to their house and pay the associated shipping costs, or schedule an in-store delivery to pick it up in a few days at the local store most convenient for them.
With cost-effective final mile delivery, multi-location brick-and-mortar retailers can maximize inventory already in the market and meet consumers’ needs faster. Getting merchandise from one store to another requires planning and efficiency—and that’s where a final mile carrier like USPack is extraordinarily supportive.
Some other use cases for partnering with a final mile carrier include:
- Move inventory from non-performing stores: If there is a higher price point or greater demand at a specific location, final mile delivery can help brick-and-mortar retailers move inventory to higher-performing stores and locations.
- Consolidate products during seasonal transitions: Changing seasons impact inventory and sales for many brick and mortar retailers. For example, the end of summer for a seaside shop means trading flip flops and sun hats for sweatshirts and knit caps. Transporting winter products to stores and removing the summer inventory becomes necessary. A final mile delivery partner can assist in this process.
- Create local hub alternatives to warehouses: Take the aftermarket auto parts industry as an example. There are countless car makes and models, and brick and mortar retailers need to carry hundreds to thousands of different products. Distributing inventory across different local hubs with the ability to pivot quickly to meet consumer demand is imperative. Final mile delivery helps auto shops get what they need quickly, creating mini-warehouses of sorts.
- Use brick and mortar retailers as distributors. Instead of sending inventory back to a remote warehouse, final mile delivery helps brick and mortar retailers double as mini-distribution centers. This means stores are able to use square footage more efficiently, maximizing truck capacity and delivering on consumer needs faster.
The future of brick and mortar retail is already underway
While e-commerce is here to stay, consumers still love that in-person experience—and brick-and-mortar retailers need the tools and services to meet in-store demand. But doing so requires a sharp omni-channel logistics strategy and a final mile delivery partner that can help stores pivot on a dime.
Look out for our next article in this series, The Brick and Mortar Comeback, that dives into how brick and mortar retailers can bolster their replenishment strategy with more efficient delivery.
Leverage the efficiency of outsourced final mile delivery. Contact USPack to learn how we can help you support your brick-and-mortar stores—and deliver delight to your customers.