More and more retailers are beginning to offer e-commerce in addition to their brick-and-mortar stores. However, for many companies maintaining a distribution centre can be daunting, if not unaffordable. So how can companies maintain an e-commerce presence without purchasing distribution centres? The answer that's being used by chains across North America is a simple but effective solution; utilize your retail stores as distribution centres.
Companies with brick-and-mortar retail stores are already paying for space, and these stores already have the desired products delivered to them. A simple shift in inventory, staff training, and back-room organization can easily allow for a retail store to function as a store out front and a distribution centre in the back.
Fulfilling online orders from a store requires some technology to be adopted. First, an accurate order management system must be in place for each store so that the system knows exactly which products are where. Secondly, the online order system must be able to identify which store is the best location for the order to ship from. This decision relies on information such as product availability, location relative to the customer, and potentially store hours. Finally, the system should also be able to track when more stock is needed, and potentially automatically order more product from the manufacturers.