Consumers Want Faster Delivery, Personalized Service in the Aisles this Holiday Season

By Scott Fenwick,
Consumers Want Faster Delivery, Personalized Service in the Aisles this Holiday Season Image

Sweeping changes in consumer shopping patterns and growing expectations for faster fulfillment will prompt retailers to test same-day delivery options in limited areas, such as urban centers. This is just one of the trends that Manhattan Associates, Inc. predicts will drive the retail industry in the coming year.

Additionally, retailers will continue to look for greater flexibility in fulfillment of omnichannel orders as they confront inventory availability during the holidays and other peak times. Retailers will also continue their in-store technology investments, such as clienteling, in order to offer personal service, profitably, to customers in the aisles.

Consumers are voting with their wallets – they expect retailers to offer more choice in how orders are fulfilled and delivered. Leaders and laggards will be defined this holiday season by how retailers leverage their supply chain technology investments to profitably fulfill the surge of omnichannel orders.

Manhattan’s 2014 holiday outlook are outlined below:

  • Greater experimentation with same-day delivery – Same-day delivery is the new black in retail trends. Manhattan predicts more brands will experiment with this shipping option during the holiday season. Experimentation will be focused in geographically small areas and will occur predominantly in urban settings.

    As same-day shipping becomes more ubiquitous, the stigma associated with its expense will start to fade and consumers will view it as a realistic delivery approach. Testing same-day delivery options now will help retailers cope with escalating demand for the service and establish procedures for profitable fulfillment.

  • Parcel shipping will go local – With online purchasing continuing to surge, parcel shipments are increasing. Manhattan predicts more retailers will partner with local delivery services to cover spikes in demand in specific, concentrated areas.

    Partnering with local carriers will give retailers more flexibility by opening up a whole new host of delivery providers and incorporating ‘back-up providers’ to eliminate capacity shortage issues. Working on a local level can also help retailers ensure that ship-from-store demands are met and that packages never arrive late, no matter where the orders originate.

  • Inventory will always present problems, but planning won’t be to blame – Although merchandise planning for the 2014 season began months ago, most retailers will still run into challenges with inventory levels after the holiday shopping subsides. With recent improvements in fulfillment technology, however, retailers can no longer blame their inventory issues on poor planning.

    Moving forward, the pressures of omnichannel demand will be a call to action for retailers to implement flexible fulfillment strategies that allow them to easily address inventory supply and demand issues. Flexibility is the new “must have” for retailers as they seek to conquer the unpredictability of omnichannel shopping, and poor planning will no longer be an acceptable scapegoat for inventory shortages.

  • Retailers will benefit from in-store technology investments – Despite the rise in online purchasing, brick-and-mortars remain the biggest revenue driver for retailers. Technology that encourages customers to visit stores will prove invaluable this holiday season.

    In-store returns of online purchases, for example, will prove its worth by getting bodies into stores, which means opportunities for ‘upselling’ and impulse buying that don’t exist online. To truly capitalize on omnichannel shopping, retailers must invest in store technology. Those who have will show it off this holiday season, and those who haven’t will change their tune.

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