Arguably one of the largest catalysts for developing e-commerce in recent years has been Amazon Prime. Prime is a subscription based service from Amazon. With a cost of $99 a year, subscribers get free 2-day shipping as well access to other services like free photo storage, music streaming and more. According to RBC, Amazon Prime has between 30 and 40 million subscribers in the United States. That accounts for 10% of the nation’s population. Recently the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart announced a plan to roll out an unlimited shipping plan for $50 a year. This plan would give shoppers access to millions of items along with guaranteed delivery within 3 days. As more and more people are opting for the convenience and affordability of shopping online, here are 5 ways that e-commerce is making it easier than ever to buy the products you want.
Online Shopping / Store Websites
Online transactions established a foothold in 1994 as banks began to offer web-based services -even Pizza Hut had a presence! Amazon.com launched a year later in 1995. Now companies of all sizes have a website and offer their customers the opportunity to buy online. Online sales now account for $80.3 billion PER QUARTER, nearly 7% of all retail sales in the USA.
Pick Up In-Store
A new option that retailers are offering their customers is “ship-to-store”. This is typically a free option where a customer can find an item online and pick it up from the store. This is convenient if it is a product that isn’t typically carried in the store, or not available at a consumer’s local outlet.
Ship From Store
In an effort to meet the growing demands of omni-channel fulfillment, many companies have begun to use their stores and corresponding inventory as de facto distribution centers. In certain circumstances, it can be efficient and economical to fulfill an order directly from a store. In this model, the item is located in the store inventory and dropshipped to the customer.
With increased competition and consumer demand, businesses are leveraging their entire network of inventory to create a better customer experience. In lieu of leaving a store disappointed by an out-of-stock item, customers can order the product in store to be delivered to their home (for a fee) or pick it up at the store (for free).
As the options available to consumers grows, so will their expectations for faster shipping and fulfillment. Amazon has proven that people will pay a nominal fee for the dependability of fast shipping and perhaps more importantly, people will purchase more when shipping costs are not an added expense.
We are in uncharted territory. Businesses are offering services that haven’t been available before. Wal-Mart making an attempt to compete with Amazon through an unlimited shipping subscription is a direct reflection of what consumers want and how retail and e-commerce are evolving. Barrett Distribution Centers, with technology, strategy and e-commerce experience, creates customized supply chain solutions to meet these new challenges for retailers.