Is online fulfillment from stores too complex for e-grocery?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
Supermarkets without a firm handle on on-shelf availability and store-level perpetual inventory had better think hard before committing to an online ordering/in-store fulfillment business model. Double-digit rates of out-of-stocks and item substitutions are the current norm in online orders picked in stores. For some, this could be a customer experience disaster in the making.
The same issue could also prove to be an Achilles heel for the announced Amazon/Whole Foods combination, if they fail to match the customer expectations on delivery accuracy that Amazon has established in other categories of merchandise.
The know-how to get this right does exist. On Walmart.com, click & collect shoppers can view and order items by store and see the counts of quantities available. Similar in-stock visibility or confirmation is built into the Home Depot, Lowe’s and Office Depot sites.
Real-time, store inventory visibility is essential for online grocery ordering systems, yet it seems to be the exception so far. For supermarket operators who have made a decision to compete in order & deliver or click & collect, a similar service standard represents a significant competitive opportunity.
Adopting a store-level, real-time, inventory management system with automated ordering and perpetual inventory is a high-ROI investment on its own. For any retailer who contemplates fulfilling online orders in the stores, superior inventory accuracy and visibility are even more essential. Your customer relationships depend upon it.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does in-store fulfillment of online grocery face the same or greater challenges than in other retailing channels? Do you believe that the systems able to capture real-time, store inventory visibility in the food category are advanced enough to assure a high level of order accuracy?