Retail vs E-Commerce: How Last Mile Delivery System Can Solve the Deadlock
The war is on. The lines are drawn. Retail and e-commerce have locked swords. Which side are you on? If these thoughts seem ominous to you, then don’t worry. There is peace ahead. Retail vs E-commerce is a new but heated battle. They are different, but not that different. We will see now how they can work together.
Any platform involving a buyer and a seller is a marketplace. This marketplace serves as the communication ground where product or monetary exchanges are made. Now this marketplace can be in a retail store or it can be e-commerce. The end goal of both scenarios is a healthy mix of benefit for the buyer, seller, and the surrounding system.
The Key Differentiator Between the Two Markets is Logistics Management.
With retail sales, the buyer gets to evaluate some products live. After evaluation, the person can take ownership of the product (or service) by making the monetary transaction then and there. With online sales, the buyer evaluates many assorted products (virtually), and picks the best product/service and makes the payment. The transfer of ownership takes a while to happen post payment. It may seem the difference is simple, but it’s not. The difference is in the logistical planning and execution of efficient field service management.
You see, keeping everything constant, any person would want to take ownership at the moment of the exchange. However, the benefits of online transaction offset all this through top-notch last-mile and field workforce management. The retail store plans logistics on the basis of predictive demand, and sets up inventory stocks through a periodic or just-in-time distribution cycle. Here the branch/logistics/operations managers use sales forecasts to stock up merchandise through planned last-mile delivery solutions such as LogiNext’s MileTM. With these latest algorithms, the retailers can react quickly to demand fluctuations.
Online sales portals plan their logistics in a different manner. Their distribution model is far more direct than that of a retailer. They have access to a much higher stock inventory, which in turn gives the prospective customer many different options as choices. These ‘choice’ coupled with the cost benefit of not having to maintain rent of a retail store, the online sales portal can offset the ‘immediate product hand-over’ effect. And again, with latest products such as LogiNext MileTM and LogiNext ForceTM, these companies can plan precise home deliveries at the preferred time of the customer.
Key logistics management breakthroughs that bridge the gap between online and retail are:
Same-Day Priority Delivery
Retail or online companies can now employ products that enable you to prioritize delivery schedules based on customer requirements. Recent innovations in automation have given companies the option to even make one or two-hour deliveries. All this is born from a desire to serve the customer with immediate and lasting solutions to their everyday requirements. With the ease of processing, the companies can shift the instances of shopping from occasional to frequent, or even daily. Imagine if you could have your order delivered in an hour; you might want to do the same on the next day for something else you need. The idea is to fulfill the impulse buy principle of consumer goods sales.
Real-time Delivery Tracking
Last mile delivery has evolved to the level that all stakeholders of a shipment get real-time updates about the movement of the said shipment. The customer and the store manager can, at the same time, track the en-route delivery as it reaches the customer. This adds to the control the store manager (or the logistics management company) has on the last mile deliveries. It also adds to the satisfaction level of the customer, knowing when, exactly, the packaged would be delivered. The next phase of this tracking is the electronic proof of delivery (ePoD). Through ePoD, invoicing has become a hassle-free and transparent affair.
Dynamic Delivery Re-Routing
Retail and e-commerce companies alike have faced the trouble of en-route rerouting of deliveries due to last minute destination address changes (or preferred delivery time changes) done by the customer. Companies can now re-route their workforce as soon as such an update appears. There would not be any downtime or delays in any deliveries due to this shift in schedule. Such dynamic and real-time schedule management has become the corner stone of an ever-evolving retail and e-commerce sector.
And in Conclusion: Let’s Have a Look at an Omni-Channel Strategy
Rather than comparing, how about you merge the best of both worlds into one. An epic coming together of retail and e-commerce. If this sounds good, then omni-channel strategy is what you are looking for. Omni-channel entails being prevalent or relevant in multiple channels at once. Retail and e-commerce are not so mutually exclusive as they seem. Retail companies can utilize e-commerce channels to drive footfalls to the stores. An average user uses the Internet to compare and review products. The buying destination might be brick-and-mortar based, but the credibility of the products, nowadays, comes from online peers. After selecting a set of probable purchases, the user can visit the corresponding retail store to witness the product live. With online peer reviews added on to live product demos, the user can have a complete conversion journey.
Head Image Credit: Frost & Sullivan