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DHL expands its breadth to accommodate omnichannel retailers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

DHL is helping high-volume retailers speed up “the last mile” of their omnichannel shopping experience.

DHL eCommerce, a division of logistics company Deutsche Post DHL Group, is expanding the functionality of its fulfillment centers in Columbus, Ohio, and Riverside, California. Specifically, the logistics company is investing in storage and mechanization to support the growing needs of its U.S.-based e-commerce retail partners that ship between 300 and 15,000 orders per day. They will also manage both B2C and B2B transactions.

The two facilities, which are operated in conjunction with DHL Supply Chain, are located near major urban centers. This allows merchants to position their inventory closer to their customers, improving their time to market while reducing shipping costs.

These gains will be achieved through an order management system operated by IBM Sterling. The solution provides fast customer integration, seamless access and visibility to the network, and allows customers to optimize the placement of inventory and orchestrate orders across the facilities.

The warehouses are engineered as shared-use fulfillment centers, allowing customers to share space and assets within the warehouse. Customers are charged only for the transactions they have within the warehouse with fees for receiving, storage, and outbound pick and pack. Given the volatile and seasonal nature of e-commerce, removing the fixed cost burden is a huge relief for retailers.

“The e-commerce market in the U.S. is estimated to have grown by 15.6% in 2016 with sales topping $531 billion, and increasingly e-tailers are seeking fulfillment solutions to enable an omnichannel experience for end consumers,” said Lee Spratt, CEO, DHL eCommerce Americas.

“We see a huge demand from U.S. e-commerce players needing best-in-class e-commerce logistics solutions and we’re expanding our capabilities to support these growing demands,” Spratt said. “Besides doubling our existing U.S. fulfillment centers in Columbus and Riverside and enhancing them with greater automation, we also plan to add an additional center in New Jersey.”

The project coincides with the company’s July 2016 announcement of a $137 million investment to expand infrastructure and capabilities to expand the company’s leading role in e-commerce logistics and better serve U.S. customers within the booming e-commerce industry, DHL said.

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Home decor brand bolsters offering through predictive analytics

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

With increased competition in the home furnishings category heats up, Pier 1 Imports wants to feature better assortments and pricing decisions to attract and retain shoppers.

The retailer is adopting a new predictive analytics solution from First Insight, which is designed to help it make quicker and more accurate design, buying and pricing decisions, as well as evaluate opportunities for new product launches.

Using online social engagement tools to gather real-time pricing and sentiment data on potential product offerings, the new solution applies this incoming data to its predictive analytic algorithm to determine which products present the greatest opportunity. Armed with these real-time results, Pier 1 will be able to evaluate a greater number of designs or products quickly, increasing speed to market; calibrate inventory buys, and optimize pricing and allocation strategies to maximize its returns on investment.

“First Insight’s expertise will complement our identification and analyses of new product and category offerings, and enhance informative decision making based on direct feedback from consumers, including Pier 1 Imports customers,” said Cathy David, executive VP of merchandising for Pier 1 Imports. “By working with First Insight, we will gain a more comprehensive understanding at the beginning of our product selection and development process of what customers perceive as distinctive products at a great value, thereby helping maximize our sales and profit potential.”

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Study: More than half of U.S. shoppers haven’t tried BOPIS

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More omnichannel retailers offer buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) services to shorten their delivery windows. Yet, 60% of shoppers have yet to take advantage of the service.

That’s according to a new report, “Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store” from ChargeItSpot, which was based on responses from over 2,074 shoppers at 20 malls across the country.

Of the 40% of shoppers who have used BOPIS, shoppers between age 35 and 49 use it the most, with 49% of shoppers having used the service. Shoppers between the ages of 18-34 were the runner-up (42%), followed by shoppers aged 50-65 (39%).

“There remains much untapped opportunity for stores and shoppers to take advantage of BOPIS.” said Douglas Baldasare, CEO and founder of ChargeItSpot. “By further promoting and incentivizing customer use of these programs, retailers can more effectively increase their sales, better manage consumer fulfillment by merging online and in-store inventory, and offer their customers a more fluid, multichannel shopping experience.”

Among those that do use BOPIS, 75% have purchased something else while in the store, while 25% had not. Specifically, shoppers between the ages 50-65 were most likely to make an additional purchase while using BOPIS (79%). Meanwhile, 75% of shoppers between18-34 made additional purchases after using BOPIS, followed by 63% of shoppers aged 35-49, data revealed.

“Buying online and picking up in-store can lead to more in-store transactions for retailers,” said Baldasare. “BOPIS does what many brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to do organically — get shoppers through the door. Once they are in the store, customers are likely to browse and ultimately make a purchase.”

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