We know the holiday season is here when Black Friday promotions become inescapable. Retailers repeatedly remind us that they have extended special offers into the weeks before Thanksgiving and will extend the Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotional period into the following weekend to tap into the spending power of today’s omnichannel shopper.
According to a recent Deloitte study, omnichannel shoppers in all retail channels will spend 66 percent more this holiday season compared to those who only shop in brick and mortar stores. In order for retailers to successfully snag the most consumer spend, they must meet the ever growing demands of today’s tech-savvy consumers.
Ideally, retailers should have multiple delivery options in their arsenal, carefully coordinating them to ensure consumers are receiving products in the most efficient way possible. Whether it’s drop-shipping from a third-party supplier, shipping from brick-and-mortar stores, allowing consumers to order online and pick up in store, or housing inventory in physical warehouses, the more delivery options you offer, the better your chances that you will make it on the holiday buyer’s go-to list of best places to shop.
Recent tactics from major retail players like Amazon, Wal-Mart and even Google are proof that meeting customer demand this holiday season means coordinating many and varied fulfillment and delivery options:
Macy’s Same-Day Delivery
Macy’s announced last week that they will offer same-day shipping for only $5 on online orders over $99, while smaller orders are subject to standard shipping costs plus the $5 fee.
With this model, Macy’s is leveraging local stores as mini fulfillment centers. This means better use of existing inventory and increased efficiency, enabling consumers to opt for the speediest delivery.
Google Express’s Expansion
In October, the freshly rebranded Google Express launched in three new cities: Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. With the expansion, more than 7 million more people have access to the service that operates on a membership basis much like Amazon Prime. One-time orders can also be delivered for a fee.
Google Express is using efficiency to compete with Amazon Prime. Instead of investing billions of dollars in fulfillment centers around the country, Google Express takes advantage of local retailers’ existing inventory. In the process, Google builds valuable retail relationships and completes another step on the path to purchase.
Amazon’s Partnership with Flywheel
This fall, Amazon tested a partnership with taxi startup Flywheel to provide same-day shipping to customers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
By outsourcing local deliveries, Amazon mimics Google Express. Neither model requires investment in a delivery fleet to fulfill orders.
Wal-Mart’s Black Weekend
This year, Black Friday begins on Thanksgiving Day for the retailer and will consist of three separate shopping “events.” To minimize the chaos in stores and streamline buying, Wal-Mart is offering one-hour guarantees on select items during Event 1 on Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. If customers are unable to get the item in store during that time, they can purchase the product online for the same price and receive the order before Christmas.
The Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales this year are signs that retailers better understand their shoppers. Macy’s chairman and CEO Terry J. Lundgren was right when he said that his goals were to help customers “shop whenever, wherever and however they prefer, and to use the company’s entire inventory to satisfy demand.”
While these tactics do not make sense for all retailers or consumers, the point is that retailers need to think through how omni-channel shoppers are buying and to coordinate delivery options that best meet consumer needs and expectations. Consumers typically do not know or care how their products get to them, as long as they arrive quickly. When retailers optimize inventory to be delivered most efficiently by location and consumer demand, they are providing a truly omnichannel experience. Up your omnichannel game with help from the experts.