Following a year of accelerated e-commerce activity, retailers continue to prioritize alternative fulfillment channels, including curbside and in-store pickup, as they deal with shifting consumer demands driven by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent technology vendor survey.
Cloud-based fulfillment and delivery platform Bringg released its 2021 Bringg Barometer: State of Retail Delivery & Fulfillment report in late January, highlighting strengths and weaknesses in retailers’ online fulfillment capacity and variety of fulfillment services, along with their top fulfillment priorities for 2021. Bringg surveyed 1,000 U.S. retailers and brands for the report.
“COVID-19 put an enormous amount of pressure on e-commerce, leaving retailers in a rush to implement fulfillment capabilities that met changing consumer behaviors and demands,” according to a statement from Guy Bloch, CEO of Bringg. “As we look at 2021 and beyond, especially as e-commerce is expected to account for 19.2% of all retail sales by 2024, retailers that prioritize delivery and fulfillment operations will see greater operational efficiencies and provide premium customer experiences.”
Bringg found that since the beginning of the pandemic retailers have invested in new fulfillment channels, including curbside pickup (51%), buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS) (33%), alternative pick-up locations (28%), and same-day delivery (27%). And although such channels proved effective throughout the pandemic and through the holiday season, they said retailers report that they need to continually adjust their strategies and invest in new capabilities. The survey revealed that retailers are prioritizing adding alternative pickup locations (30%) and BOPIS (24%) in the next six to 12 months, for example.
Other survey findings drilled down to specific delivery problems:
The biggest pain points when it comes to scaling delivery are working with multiple fleets (36%), scheduling delivery times with customers (30%), and a lack of real-time visibility once the order is out for delivery (20%).
Lack of visibility (39%) and lack of brand control (31%) are the biggest pain points when it comes to working with external fleets for delivery, followed by cost (29%).
When it comes to pain points associated with delivering on time, retailers reported the number of drivers available (29%), dispatch and routing issues (20%), and travel distance between warehouse, retail location, and delivery point (19%).
The survey results also showed that less than half of retailers work with a technology vendor to streamline operations, Bringg said.
“In order to be successful at scale, it is important for retailers to understand that the complexities of creating efficient operations are always much larger than anticipated,” Bloch also said. “There are many lessons coming out of 2020 for the retail industry, including the critical advantages that external support provides when it comes to optimizing fulfillment operations. If these channels are to remain in place as a long-term answer to e-commerce fulfillment, retailers must consider a partner that specializes in digitizing, connecting, and orchestrating between systems and stakeholders.”