Big & Bulky, Parcel, Retail

Localized Inventory: The Final Mile Solution for Omni-Channel Retailers

Shoppers’ expectations for delivery speed and convenience are higher than ever. In 2021, Digital Commerce 360 reported that 68% of consumers said fast shipping motivates them to order online—and according to Shopify’s 2022 Future of Shipping and Logistics report, 58% expect free next-day delivery on orders.  

Meanwhile, Raydiant’s 2022 State of Consumer Behavior report states that over 44% of consumers prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. As a retailer, you know the difficulties of stocking every offering—in every size, color, and model—in every location. And you don’t want to disappoint your shoppers. Raydiant notes how over 54% of in-store shoppers have abandoned a brand as a result of one bad in-store experience. It’s a huge challenge balancing in-store stock with customer demand along with inventory demands of your online customers. But with the burgeoning use of localized inventory, retailers are being more effective in satisfying their customers on all fronts.  

A sophisticated local delivery network is a retailers’ best partner to make timely inventory relocations, whether it’s from store to store, from local hub to store, or direct to consumer.  

Traditional delivery models create challenges to localizations 

 Retailers rely on national carriers to carry inventory cross country, often from shipping docks or huge warehouses to regional distribution centers. Their business model is set up for the long-haul, not agile hyper-localized infrastructure. Trying to create a local delivery and inventory replenishment program via a model that’s designed for thousands of miles instead of less than a couple of hundred can be prohibitively expensive and nearly impossible.  

Instead, retailers need a delivery partner  whose sole focus and model is the last mile (final mile), helping you to localize your inventory and fulfillment infrastructure. Whether through your brick-and-mortar stores, long-term storage, or terminal facilities, a final mile delivery partner is the key to optimizing your inventory distribution. Read on to learn how partnering with USPack can help you localize and optimize your inventory, and meet your customers’ expectations. 

 Inventory localization creates value for you and your customers 

 Inventory localization reshapes how you make your products available throughout your locations. When a customer wants a particular item, you can source and deliver it from the closest location where it’s available. That can mean the difference between your drivers traveling less than 200 miles roundtrip for pickup and delivery versus 1200 miles, significantly reducing your customers’ delivery wait times and your costs, with the added bonus of being more eco-friendly

 Decentralized inventory optimizes stock at each store, improving your ROI. The localized availability model gives you options to make your customers’ lives more convenient and their experience with your brand more satisfying. You can transport inventory:  

  • From one store to another for customers who prefer the in-store experience 
  • From a distribution hub to stores
  • From store to store for direct inventory redistribution 
  • From stores or distribution hub directly to your customers’ homes 
  • From stores to the closest USPS depot/post office (postal injection) to fulfill online orders (flexible pickup times) 

Which method you select depends on what provides the most expeditious solution to your customers’ needs. Whether the item is at a store across town or in a nearby town, with local last mile delivery you can have it to your customer within just a day or two. Same thing if you designate a local store as a “mega-hub” for certain inventory items. In fact, more and more retailers are gaining the benefits of designating certain local stores as “warehouses” or places that hold a disproportionate level of inventory for certain items based on local purchasing interest and convenience for distribution. Stores with ample on-site storage can be a local hub for larger items, while stores with a central location for heavily-requested but easier-to-store items can be another hub.  

This is all about providing customers with convenient options. For the customer who works or lives near a store but doesn’t want packages left at their front door, send the item to the store for pick-up. In contrast, for the customer that won’t be near your store for the next few days, deliver it right to their home. No matter which option you and your customers select, everyone always gets a high-quality experience.  

 Delivering small to medium-sized packages—like clothing, towels, or desk supplies—is one thing, but what if you need to deliver non-conveyable items that are big, bulky, or irregular? Think wide-screen TVs, couches, washers and dryers, and beds. Because these items don’t conform to typical shipping sizes and weights, and can’t be cleanly palletized, large national providers impose heavy penalties for handling them. Too often the result is that you have contracts with two providers per area: one for your standard-sized delivery items, and one for big and bulky items.  

 That can be the case if you’re an appliance retailer that’s shipping small items like microwaves and extension cables as well as bulky items like refrigerators and washing machines. The onus is on you to sort which items go to which provider, as well as manage twice the number of contacts. And, you also lose any economies of scale that would accrue by putting all your volume with one provider. 

 USPack has decades of experience fulfilling the delivery needs for complex non-conveyable items with our big and bulky solutions. Your dedicated sales director understands your localized inventory chain and can  assess all your delivery needs to strategize for the most efficient and cost-effective fleet composition. 

 The benefits of one provider over many 

 Choosing a singular last mile provider with access to a national network to execute your inventory localization strategy means just one contract and contact, and eliminatinges the need to manage dozens upon dozens of individual local providers across the country.  

 And by working with one provider for all your last mile needs, you gain the advantage of having all your delivery analytics on one unified digital platform. From your dashboard, you’re able to cleanly segment data into meaningful categories such as number of deliveries per area, type, cost, speed, and more. With uniformity in metrics and reporting formats, you have a true partner to analyze performance, and pinpoint areas for greater savings and efficiency. This unified approach saves you the hassle of juggling data reported from multiple sources, with varying times and formats.  

 Multiple providers also opens the door to inconsistent representation of your organization. A professional last mile partner like USPack works with your operations teams to ensure that the execution of all deliveries always align with your brand

 And last, a single provider partnership significantly streamlines your business planning processes. Hazy projections due to conflicting formatted data and reports evaporate when all the info and insights you need for clarity and precision are on one platform. 

 Localize inventory with a last mile provider with a national network 

 As consumer expectations on product availability and delivery timing evolve, so too must retailer inventory location and delivery strategies. USPack is a final mile partner with over 30 years of experience providing logistics services to some of the country’s most well-known brands, and we’re ready today to help manage your inventory decentralization processes. Contact us to learn more about how localizing your inventory through a strategic final mile partnership can elevate your market presence.

Speak with a final mile logistics expert

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