When we talk about alternative fulfillment methods, we often highlight strategies like buy online, pick-up from store (BOPIS), and curbside pickup. But these aren’t the only store-based fulfillment options available to retail and eCommerce businesses.
This post will explain how store associate delivery works and show you how it can strengthen your fulfillment strategy.
What is Store Associate Delivery?
Store associate delivery is a type of micro fulfillment where front-end employees pull products from the shelves or backroom of a brick-and-mortar store, physically pack those products into boxes or bags, and deliver them to customers’ doorsteps, personally.
Like other types of fulfillment, associate delivery is used to handle online orders. However, this type of fulfillment is reserved for local customers within a certain radius from the store. This enables retail businesses to minimize the number of miles their associates have to travel while ensuring that customers get their orders quickly.
What is a Delivery Associate?
For many businesses, knowing exactly who should be responsible for transporting products to customers is difficult. After all, there are quite a few factors that have to be weighed, including:
- Employee safety behind the wheel and in dealing with customers
- Driving expertise and eligibility
- The need of that employee elsewhere (i.e. trained cashiers or customer service associates)
Typically, retailers can safely go one of two ways with their selection process, though. Either they can hire new employees whose primary role is to deliver orders to customers, or they can go through an in-house vetting and interviewing process to find existing employees who are well-suited and willing to take on the delivery service.
Why is Store Associate Delivery Useful?
There are quite a few reasons why store associate delivery is among the best options for fulfilling eCommerce store orders. Let’s look at just two.
Enables Same Day Delivery
One of the most obvious benefits to store associate delivery is the time savings. Since products are stored in brick-and-mortar stores and shipped to locals in the area, delivery can happen much faster.
In fact, with the right number of associates to handle the demand and a strategic delivery path, products can be delivered on the same day. And you only need to look as far as retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart or food delivery services like InstaCart to see it in real life.
The moment an order is placed, associates get to work collecting the items and packing them into custom bags or boxes. Then, a driver loads them into their vehicle and starts on the road to make the delivery. In some cases, like Wal-Mart Express Delivery or Amazon Prime Now, these products can arrive within two hours of the order. As with businesses like InstaCart, you can schedule your delivery for a specific time of day.
Either way, this makes it possible for busy professionals, working moms, and people without a vehicle to get the benefits of shopping, without actually doing so.
Moves Delivery Services In-House
Besides making it possible for retailers to better support customers, store associate delivery also allows you to reduce your reliance on third-party carriers significantly. This makes a huge difference to retailers because it allows them to:
- Maintain direct ownership of delivery vehicles
- Scale their delivery program as needed
- Keep costs low, especially when carrier rates rise
- Avoid peak season demand for carriers (and a slower order cycle during busy times of the year)
- Provide a branded shopping experience from beginning to end
While the concept of store associate delivery is not new, there is a growing need for retailers to adopt the trend. However, with a fulfillment partner like Radial, you can successfully coordinate order picking, packing, and associate delivery without any difficulty. As a result, you can create a positive customer experience and leverage a low-cost, scalable, branded fulfillment method to make it happen.