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In the ever-increasing world of ecommerce, customers are expecting faster and faster delivery times – some as fast as the same day, or even within an hour! The big guys like Amazon can handle this no problem, but if you’re a smaller retail operation and/or a local business storefront, this might sound like kind of a tall order. No pun intended.


If you want to improve the speed of your order fulfillment and have at least one brick-and-mortar store location, there’s a few things you can do to get the items the customers need into their hands, all without adding a lot of extra steps to your supply chain and fulfillment process. Let’s take a look at how in-store fulfillment can help meet the demand for shorter delivery times, and what you can do to help this:


Shorten Pick Times: If your storefront has an item that can be used to fulfill online or in-store special orders, your pick times can be drastically reduced with the right plan in place. Take one or two of your storefront employees and formulate a new picking approach for special items – train one employee on item locations, prepare a new floorplan with designated ‘zones’ to indicate item placement, or whatever you have to do to help reduce the fulfillment time of each order.


Better Customer Communications:. Think about the last time you ordered a pizza – you probably had a phone app that let you know where your pizza was during the whole process, right? Customers expect the same from any of their online orders these days, and using storefronts to fulfill orders can help with this. You can use a web or phone app to update customers on the status of their order to tell them when it’s fulfilled, when it’s on the truck, and when it’s gotten to your house.


Find Dedicated Shippers: Of course, all the web apps and item fulfillment in the world isn’t going to help if you don’t have any way of getting your items to the customers. Make sure you have a fleet or shipping company that you trust with these specific items, and work with them to form a plan to retrieve and deliver these items promptly, including getting them the locations of the store (or stores) that will be delivering online orders.


Free Up Storage Space in the Warehouse: Relying on your storefront as a second fulfillment center has a long term benefit for the rest of your supply chain. Any extra wire shelving or industrial storage can be freed up for other items that haven’t made it to your store front, only being sold online, or anything else you need to store but didn’t have the space for. The usage of storefronts can be a boon to your storage and receiving practices, but just remember to keep a balance between inventory in your warehouse and inventory in your stores.


After these steps, you should be all set to start fulfilling orders from your storefronts. So long as everything works, your customers – and employees – will thank you.

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