Online consumers are attempting to find differentiating factors between retailers now that the market has become so saturated with similar products or the same product offered by multiple retailers. One way consumers are choosing where to buy online is by the fulfillment and shipping capabilities of the online retailer. Larger retailers have proven that they have the network of suppliers and shippers to make consumers happy and now the rest of the retail industry in following closely behind. Shipping time has become a large distinguishing factor for retailers as consumers have become accustomed to receiving two day shipping at no extra cost. Reports have shown that forty one percent of consumers globally consider shipping an important factor when making an online purchase. Some countries have different expectations – an example of this is China. Fifty five percent of Chinese consumers expect to receive their orders within 24 hours or less. For many retailers, this is a tall order to fill. Sixty eight percent of global consumers will not wait more than five days for free shipping. For retailers to manage these expectations they must have the proper tools. An integrated network including a warehouse management system (WMS) including a robust shipping rate shopping tool can help retailers find the most cost effective and efficient shipping solution for their customers. These tools allow retailers and their fulfillment centers to keep costs low while keeping customer service standards high.
Implementing an omni channel stategy is expected from many consumers as well. This is due to the need for cross functional retail channels. Currently forty two percent of consumers want to have the ability to purchase items online and pick them up in store. This requires inventory visibility across all channels that must be managed effectively using tools including in store POS, a robust WMS, eCommerce platforms and, in some cases, ERP software. These tools will allow retailers to manage inventory across channels and fulfill customer orders in any way.