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How Can 3PL Logistics Services Add Value and Drive Customer Purchases?

Consumer behaviour is an interesting field of study, and one that is in a constant state of evolution. Thanks to the introduction of new technologies, new retail and e-commerce models, and global social communications, the way we shop and evaluate our options as consumers is vastly different than it was even a few years ago.

Traditional marketing thinking often focuses on the benefits and advantages of the product itself, taking in to consideration factors like price, features, functions, and style. Indeed, while these are all extremely important elements, modern consumers are looking at the entire experience from end to end in-depth and with greater scrutiny than ever before. This is especially true in commodity-based items like consumer electronics, where 10 other retailers all carry the same models.

This means that all of the other elements that impact their shopping experience need to be carefully evaluated and optimized, and this includes your supply chain and logistics operations. When you take a step back and look at the whole customer experience that your company offers, you’ll realize just how critical your supply chain is, and how drastically it can influence the experience your customers have.

Let’s explore some of the key factors that are tied directly to your supply chain and logistics processes, and how you can leverage them as added value to your customers.

Retail & E-commerce Experience

The first point of direct contact that your customers have with your business is generally either your website or a retail location, and this is where set the tone for their experience. As your customer browses your retail showroom or navigates the various sections of your website, inventory management plays a critical role in determining if they can find what they’re looking for – if it’s available in their local store, and if they can order online and pickup in store, a popular option these days.

Inventory needs to be well-organized, appropriately stocked, and accessible to the customers. If your supply chain falls behind in maintaining stock volumes or hits delays in shipment times, the impact on your customer experience is significant. However, by enabling transparency in stock volumes and providing an easy way to navigate through all the available options, you are able to manage expectations and provide alternatives in the event that a particular item may not be immediately available.

In addition, the retail experience can be enhanced with e-commerce tools. Allowing customers to place their order for the desired products, having it either shipped directly to their home or notifying them when the products come in to stock at their preferred retail location, provides a lot of added value and convenience. 3PL logistics services can help reduce friction in these areas by integrating retail and e-commerce systems that simplify the customer shopping experience.

Picking, Packing, and Shipping

The speed of order fulfilment is also an important element of the customer experience. Once they’ve placed their order with you, how fast will it get picked, packed, and shipped out the door? By equipping your supply chain with efficient methods and tools like automation, you can reduce the time between order placement and delivery.

Leveraging 3PL services will help you refine your warehousing and distribution operations by increasing efficiency of fulfilment, as well as greater accuracy and consistency in picking and packing processes. Furthermore, 3PL logistics can improve your packaging to help prevent damage during shipping and make for a more pleasant customer experience during the unboxing and setup steps once they receive their items.

Flexible and on-demand transportation resources from 3PL logistics providers allow your company to reduce delivery times, as well as serve distant or remote markets more effectively. This means that customers that were previously inaccessible to you due to geographic limitations are now able to place their orders and receive them quickly.

Transparency & Communication

Another potential point of friction in the customer experience is the ability for customers to obtain information on the status of their orders and the availability of products. Enhanced e-commerce tools available from 3PL service providers allow up-to-date inventory volumes to be displayed directly on your product pages on your website and allow customers to track their orders in real-time directly from their account.

Communication of status updates can also be automated using 3PL services. This way your customers can be automatically notified regarding a wide range of topics that can help add value to their experience. They can receive stock level notifications, order updates, shipping times, returns processing details, and more. By providing greater transparency about the information that matters to customers, 3PL services help to further enhance their overall experience.

Reverse Logistics

Customers are also placing a great deal of importance on the returns policy and processes that a company offers in the event that there is some type of mistake with their order. While this can occur for a variety of reasons, such as ordering the wrong size or colour, or perhaps due to a missing part or component, the ability for the customer to have the issue corrected is of critical importance.

You can offer a simpler and easier returns experience for your customers by utilizing 3PL services to handle your reverse logistics. Tools can be implemented that allow your customers to easily submit returns requests online and get the information they need. Alternatively, phone systems and support can be put in place that provides personal service directly to customers and assists them with their needs.

Whatever the best method for managing returns and reverse logistics tasks will be for your customers, the most important aspect is to make sure that the process is smooth and easy from their perspective. By making it simple for customers to have their problems corrected, you can provide a lot of value and help improve customer retention and satisfaction.

Add Value in Everything You Do

If you’re sensing a theme throughout this article, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that providing value in the customer experience wherever you can is the ultimate goal, and your logistics and supply chain processes are no exception. Your business thrives when you offer the best combination of value and experience to your customers, and so it’s important to look for every opportunity you can in order to achieve that goal.

For companies looking to gain a competitive advantage through value-added 3PL logistics services, you can get started by contacting the team here at SCI today.

We are ready to help your business provide a better consumer experience, improve customer acquisition, and boost loyalty with efficient and effective logistics solutions.  Contact us today and get the conversation started.

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The Apparel Market is Rapidly Evolving, and Many Retailers are Turning to 3PL Services for a Competitive Advantage

The apparel market is rapidly evolving, and many retailers are turning to 3PL services for a competitive advantage. Canadian apparel retailers are experiencing a very different market landscape than what existed even just a few years ago. E-commerce shifts are continually causing consumer purchasing habits to change, and their expectations for service and accessibility are changing right along with them.

Apparel retailers are under increasing pressure to provide a more personalized shopping experience for their customers, while simultaneously streamlining a complex and well-established supply chain system. As you can imagine, this can be exceptionally difficult for many businesses, and the limited resources of time and capital aren’t making things any easier.

Nevertheless, there are solutions to many of the supply chain problems faced by apparel retailers. In this article, we will illustrate some of the key trends affecting the world of apparel retail, and how the services available from third-party logistics companies (3PL) are helping to change the game for many apparel retailers.

Balancing Inventory Levels with Fashion Trends

The fashion industry has always moved pretty quickly, with new styles traditionally arriving each and every season. However, digital media has accelerated this time frame dramatically, and new fashion trends don’t wait for seasons to change before the demand rises. With trendsetters constantly sharing the latest and greatest looks from all over the world, 24/7, demand for a particular style or product can change literally overnight.

Retailers who used to invest in stocking millions of units of the same products to distribute across their nationwide locations are now realizing that they need to adapt to a nimbler method. This is called “fast fashion”: smaller quantities of products in far greater ranges of variants are needed now, and the demand patterns are often unpredictable at the local level.

Agile warehousing and rapid transportation services that are offered by 3PL logistics companies can help ensure that your apparel business is able to quickly and effectively get new product in to the right locations at the right time to capitalize on this challenging consumer behaviour.

Package Consolidation & Duty Fees

International shipping carries its own set of challenges for apparel retailers, too. For shipments heading to the US, it often makes more sense to ship individual orders directly to customers in order to avoid incurring duty fees associated with packages that hold a larger dollar value. In these cases, individual shipping right from the factory works quite well.

On the other side of the 49th parallel, Canada presents a different problem with high shipping costs for smaller, individualized packages. Many US retailers are learning to save costs by consolidating multiple packages destined for individual customers in to one main shipment as it enters Canada. Once inside the country, the larger package is then broken down at a 3PL facility and the individual packages are shipped out to their final recipients.

3PL companies that provide picking, packing, and shipping services alongside advanced inventory management and material handling capabilities are able to deliver a great deal of value to apparel retailers. Because of these advantages, 3PL companies can quickly and accurately get high volumes of orders fulfilled and shipped to customers in less time.

Increasing Levels of Product Personalization / Customization

If you’ve ever bought a shirt that fits great around the body but the arms are either way too long or way too short, you know the frustrations that are inherent in standard apparel sizing. To provide a better product and an enhanced customer experience, many apparel companies are now choosing to offer a level of customization in their products that was not possible previously.

Online tools such as videos, infographics, and tutorials are provided to instruct customers on how to accurately gather the necessary measurements and style criteria for their items. To simplify the process, forms are often used and the customer can select from a range of pre-determined options for things like fabric, colour, trim, or other essential elements.

Based on the details provided, software tools then compile the data and assemble a digital pattern that follows the customer’s requirements. This pattern is then provided to the manufacturing facilities where the product is made to spec, packed, and shipped out.

Because of these extra steps in the process, retailers who offer customized apparel are under immense pressure to reduce the time between receipt of an order and the moment it ships out the door. 3PL logistics services that focus on more efficient material handling, accurate inventory management, and speed through automation are extremely valuable for apparel companies who are choosing to offer increased customization for their customers.

Choose a 3PL with Apparel Experience

It’s quite clear to see the advantages that partnering with the right 3PL can provide, but it’s also important to choose one that has experience in dealing with the retail apparel industry. When it comes to clothes, customers have high expectations of what their shopping experience should be like, and that includes fulfilment and delivery times, packaging, and even the returns process.

Canadian 3PL businesses such as SCI are experienced in the world of apparel retail logistics and have the knowledge and capabilities to deliver a world-class solution for your apparel business. Our team of experts will work closely with you every step of the way to ensure the solution that is implemented provides the competitive advantage your company needs to succeed and thrive.

To learn more about 3PL services for apparel retailers, contact our team of logistics professionals today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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How 3PL Logistics Services from SCI are Making Retail E-commerce Better

There’s no denying that the rapid growth and evolution of e-commerce retail has created a fiercely competitive environment for Canadian companies in this sector. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like this trend is likely to slow down any time soon, so you’ll need to take every step and leverage every advantage you can in order to ensure the success of your business today and in the future. This includes investing in a supply chain that is efficient, flexible, and capable of scaling to meet the demands of your growing business.

Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities that exist to improve your supply chain, streamline the flow of products, and enhance the overall customer experience. E-commerce retail companies need to carefully evaluate each area of logistics, from warehousing and transportation to order fulfilment and returns handling. Only by optimizing your entire supply chain can your business achieve the maximum competitive advantage in your markets, and SCI’s range of 3PL logistics services are designed to do exactly that.

SCI’s omni-channel retail capabilities have made a huge difference for many Canadian businesses who are challenged with increasing aggressiveness from domestic and international competitors. By leveraging SCI’s vast array of logistics capabilities and resources, these companies have been able to deliver a better retail experience for their customers, resulting in increased satisfaction, greater customer retention, and a boost to their bottom line.

Here are just a few of the advantages that SCI is able to deliver.

Coast to Coast Coverage

One of the keys to efficient nationwide distribution and fast order fulfillment is the ability to warehouse product in strategic locations across the country. Canada’s population is mainly concentrated near the US border, with scattered pockets of densely populated areas in varying frequency as you move north. Since many of these urban centers are separated by great distances, the time savings that can be achieved through a coast-to-coast warehouse and distribution network can be substantial. Fuel costs, vehicle maintenance, and capital investment can all be minimized by utilizing SCI’s extensive transportation and warehousing resources.

Emphasis on Speed and Accuracy

As your company continues to grow, it can be difficult to maintain speedy turnaround of customer orders, accuracy of picking and packing, and quick delivery times. This is an all-too-common problem for companies as surging order volumes can stretch limits of your facilities and your employees to the breaking point. Eventually, you need additional help with these processes in order to maintain and improve customer satisfaction. SCI’s 3PL services place an emphasis on both speed and accuracy to ensure that your products are picked, packed, and shipped quickly and correctly each and every time.


Improving the Final Mile

It will probably come as no surprise to you that the final mile accounts for a disproportionate amount of the total cost of the transportation of goods. However, you may not be aware that this can be up to 30%, or possibly more, of the total cost of transportation of products for some types of businesses. This makes the final mile a critical element of your logistics operations, and one of the biggest opportunities for companies to improve their ability to serve their markets. With a nationwide distribution network and a fleet of trucks of all sizes, SCI helps ensure that your final mile will be much more effective.

Data-Driven Recommendations

We live in the world of big data. With an overwhelming amount of information available to businesses about customer habits, logistics performance, competitor intel and sales patterns it can be hard to sort through the massive piles of data and extract truly valuable insights from it. Having SCI’s team of transportation management experts on your side, who can analyze the data and provide deep insights and recommendations, can help your company develop and implement an effective growth strategy and allow you to surpass your competitors. Having the data available is one thing, but being able to decipher the underlying messages within is where the real advantages come from.

Full Product Lifecycle Management

All too often, companies underestimate the importance to the customer of the returns experience. Whether the product was ordered in error, or perhaps arrived damaged or defective, the ability to provide an easy and hassle-free returns experience can be a major factor in customer satisfaction and retention. If the customer feels frustrated by the returns process or needs to jump through too many hoops in order to complete it, they may very well opt to do business with one of your competitors next time.

Time and time again, research tells us a negative customer experience that is turned around and has a positive outcome can have a greater likelihood of generating repeat business than a normal, problem-free experience. This is because a company is often judged with greater scrutiny on how they handle fixing a problem than they are when things go smoothly. The way in which they solve the problem is an opportunity to showcase customer service dedication and commitment to excellence. SCI works with your business to develop a returns process that works for your customers and delivers a smooth, hassle-free experience to help keep your customers satisfied and boost retention.

Conclusion

As you can clearly see, there is a great deal of value that SCI has to offer through 3PL logistics services. Whether your company is challenged with reaching distant markets, speeding up delivery times, or providing a seamless returns experience, SCI has the experience and expertise you need to succeed.

If you’re ready to learn more about how you can leverage SCI’s 3PL logistics services to boost your retail e-commerce business, contact us today and we will be glad to arrange for a consultation to help answer any of your questions. So, don’t hesitate, get started down the right path with SCI.

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Top 3 Reasons for Canadian Companies to Invest in their E-commerce Teams

Every year, Canadian companies are faced with challenges on how to allocate their finite resources in order to achieve the highest possible return on their investments. Often times, these decisions can be extremely difficult. Many different departments within a company may present similar or equivalent opportunities for growth, making the choice of where to direct resources all the more challenging. However, there are other times when market trends and technological changes will make the correct path very clear and obvious. At this moment, the argument for investing in e-commerce teams is a strong one, and the potential gains are substantial.

In this article, we will examine three critical statistics and trends that clearly illustrate the importance for Canadian companies to invest in their e-commerce departments. Taking action now to boost the capabilities of your e-commerce team will help ensure your company can capitalize on these trends, gain competitive advantage, and deliver a better overall customer experience in a challenging marketplace.

Let’s take a look at the first trend in Canadian retail e-commerce, and what it could mean for your business.

1 – E-commerce revenue in Canada is projected to surpass $25 billion by 2020.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/289741/canada-retail-e-commerce-sales/

It’s tough to scoff at a number like $25 billion. By the year 2020, Canadian e-commerce revenue is projected to surpass $25 billion as Canada’s economy continues to grow and consumer shopping habits maintain their shift towards online retail options. If your company wants to take part in that growth and gain a larger share of that revenue, then now is the time to increase investment and resources in your e-commerce team to handle the demands of marketing, customer service, and order fulfilment through your online channels.

2 – E-commerce share of total retail sales in Canada has doubled since 2012 to over 8% and is projected to surpass 10% by 2020.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/379117/e-commerce-share-of-retail-sales-in-canada/

Not only is the overall dollar value of e-commerce revenue expected to grow, but the percentage of total retail sales from e-commerce channels is also projected to increase steadily. Since 2012, the e-commerce portion of total retail sales in Canada has grown from around 4% to over 8%. This growth is not expected to stop any time soon, and by 2020 the portion of sales from e-commerce is estimated to reach over 10%. This trend illustrates the evolving customer preferences towards online retail, and the increasing effectiveness of e-commerce solutions to meet the demands of customers. As more and more customers choose to do a larger portion of their shopping online, Canadian businesses must ensure that they are delivering a positive customer experience through their online retail channels.

3 – Hybrid e-commerce models like click-and-collect helps reduce delivery expenses which are 85% of costs occurring in the last mile of delivery.

Source: https://retail.emarketer.com/article/ecommerce-canada-its-time-has-come/58acceae9c13e50c186f6f31

As impressive as those first two statistics are, it’s not just the sales numbers and percentages that are important to note. Consumer shopping habits are constantly evolving, forcing companies to adapt or die to an increasingly diverse set of customer experience requirements. In this case however, these requirements are taking the form of a hybrid between traditional brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce to deliver added convenience for shoppers.

To cite one popular example, Canadian grocer Loblaws now offers customers the ability to place their order through an e-commerce platform, and then pick up their order at the grocery store location of their choice. You may have already seen the ‘Click and Collect’ parking spaces marked at many Loblaws or Zehrs grocery locations in Canada. Other retailers are also adopting this model, with Walmart being one of the most recent to implement it in Canada.

This eagerness of customers to choose a click-and-collect method of shopping carries with it an added benefit to businesses, since it helps to alleviate a significant portion of delivery costs. Studies have shown that approximately 85% of delivery costs are incurred in the last mile of delivery to the consumer. Using a click-and-collect model offers substantial cost savings for companies, along with convenience and time-savings for their customers.

What These E-commerce Trends Mean for Your Business

It may come as no surprise that these trends all point to the need for your business to rethink your approach to e-commerce and its importance in your organization. While the fact that sales volumes are projected to continue growing may be the biggest influencing statistic, don’t overlook the need for an enhanced e-commerce experience to meet changing consumer expectations. Packing, fulfilment and customer service are all essential tasks that will definitely be affected by increased sales volume. You’ll also need to examine your ability to meet the demands of consumers if a click-and-collect e-commerce model is what they are looking for. Your retail stores may not be capable of performing these tasks in their current state and may need to be upgraded or retrofitted in order to provide click-and-collect services to your customers.

Regardless of whether your company needs a full overhaul of your e-commerce capabilities, or if they just need to be tweaked and adjusted a bit, you’ll want to ensure that you evaluate all opportunities for improvement and choose the ones that make the most sense for your business. The team here at SCI can help with the e-commerce needs of your business such as warehousing & Canada-wide distribution, transportation management, and more. We will work with you to put the right resources in place to achieve success.

Contact our team of e-commerce experts and we will answer all your questions on how you can take advantage of these amazing trends in the world of Canadian online retail.

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The Right Time to Outsource to a 3PL

When do Companies Start Thinking About Outsourcing?

As all companies grow, they must continue to evolve their business processes in order to stay successful. For many, this means focusing on manufacturing efficiency, for others it means improving the customer experience, and others may need to invest heavily in product development. Each company faces a unique set of challenges that are determined by many factors:

  • Company size
  • Market conditions
  • Technology
  • Customer needs.  

Because of this, each company will also reach different goals and achieve different benefits through outsourcing their supply chain or distribution services to a 3PL.

Understanding how your company stands to benefit from outsourcing, as well as identifying which specific tasks or functions make the most sense to outsource, will determine whether now is the right time or not.

Let’s now take a quick look at the different benefits that companies can achieve through outsourcing to a 3PL.

Benefits of Outsourcing to a 3PL

Of the numerous benefits that companies aim to achieve through outsourcing to a 3PL, the most common is cost savings. Outsourcing can allow companies to significantly reduce many types of costs, including labour, materials, overhead, transportation, and more. The scale of these savings varies depending on many aspects of the business, but for many companies that engage internationally, the savings from outsourcing to a 3pPLcan have a big impact on the bottom line.

Other companies obtain benefits from the ability to refocus efforts and resources on core values and activities. This is done by shifting internal resources away from functions that can easily be outsourced, such as warehousing or transportation, and reinvesting these resources in areas of the business that can have a much more significant impact on customer experience, product development, and other aspects that directly drive the growth of the business.

Seasonal industries that see dramatic surges in business are able to achieve much greater flexibility in meeting the demands of these cycles by bringing in additional resources through outsourcing to help manage the peaks. Once the surges have subsided, the temporary additional resources can then be released until the next surge when they are needed again.

Key Signs It’s Time to Outsource to a 3PL

While each company will have a different set of circumstances that prompts them to consider outsourcing, there are many common factors that these companies will see as outsourcing becomes an increasingly viable option for them.

Maintaining profit margins is a challenge for any business, but even more critical for businesses in fiercely competitive markets, or products that have notoriously thin margins. A common sign that a company may benefit from outsourcing to a 3PL is the continual erosion of profit margins and increasing costs. For companies that have tight budgets, outsourcing could be the right way to manage profit margins, as supply chain processes and distribution, when done in-house, contribute to a large portion of the overhead.

In markets where the workforce is not as plentiful as the company requires, outsourcing may be the only way to acquire the talent needed to drive the company forward. If a company is struggling to attract talent from the local area, it may be time to consider expansion through outsourcing to a 3PL that has established relationships with employment agencies and a greater volume of talent available to draw from.

Another potential sign that outsourcing could be a good move is if overtime is increasing in your facility beyond what should reasonably be expected. Outsourcing could provide a fast and effective way to reduce the load without adding excessive overhead or additional labour costs.

While this is not an exhaustive list of the factors that cause companies to consider outsourcing to a 3PL, it should give you a general idea of the typical warning signs to look for.

What can be Outsourced to a 3PL?

One of the most common ways that companies choose to improve their supply chain or distribution efficiency, and one of the easiest for many companies to implement, is outsourcing a variety of logistics services and tasks to a third-party logistics provider (3PL).

Shipping, warehousing, order fulfilment, packaging, and return logistics are all functions that can be managed through outsourcing. In addition, since many third-party logistics providers have resources in locations across the country or even globally, they can open up new markets that may have previously been unattainable.  Leveraging the resources of a third-party logistics provider can be a major benefit to companies that are struggling to achieve growth.

Decision to Outsource to a 3PL

The decision to outsource is not one that should be taken lightly, but at the same time it should not be shunned or discounted. If your company recognizes one, or several, of the warning signs we described then it may very well be time to consider outsourcing. It’s best to look at the trends your company has been experiencing, both internally and externally, in order to determine if now is the right time to make a shift.

By looking internally at factors such as profit margins and worker capacity, and overlaying these with trends in the market and competitive environment, it often becomes clear how things will keep going if nothing changes. Integrating some level of outsourcing can help companies reverse downward trends and improve their market position by helping to alleviate the pain points that are causing problems.

If your company recognizes these warning signs and pain points, contact SCI today and let our logistics experts help you with an in-depth analysis of whether outsourcing is the right move.

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Future of Retail: The Apocalypse Has Been Cancelled

It seems like the persistent narrative amongst the media across North America surrounding the retail industry has been nothing but doom and gloom lately. Many of them have pulled out all the stops on this viewpoint, even issuing the hyperbole that a retail apocalypse is inevitable.  One quick search on Google tells you “the retail apocalypse” is a popular theme, with over seven million responses and its own Wikipedia page.   At first glance, many of the metrics and key performance indicators that they point out do seem rather dismal.

retail apocolypse

However, when listening to expert and advisor Michael Le Blanc, Founder and Principal of M.E.LeBlanc & Company, at the recent SCI’s 2017 Vancouver Omni-Channel Retail Leadership Summit you dig a little deeper in to what’s happening in consumer behavior, changing demographics, and e-commerce trends, and start to hear a bit of a different story. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of these factors and explain why the outlook for retail in North America, especially in Canada, isn’t quite as dire as media reports lead you to believe.

Traditional Retail Giants Are Shaking

One of the most alarming trends that tend to be referred to in looking at the future of retail is what has happened to the traditional giants, particularly department stores, in the last decade. Major brands like Sears, JC Penney, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and even Macy’s have seen their market value drop significantly between 2006 and 2017. Given how established these retailers were in their respective markets, and the massive physical infrastructure and presence that they represent, this trend certainly does set off some alarm bells.

Retail numbers

Source: https://executivetechnology.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/brick-mortar-retailer-market-value-2006-vs-present-day/

However, LeBlanc demonstrates that what is being seen in the world of Canadian retail recently tells a bit of a different story: “The Retail Apocalypse is a very powerful media narrative; the reality is that retail is more than solid in North America.  But it is also the case that retail is massively transforming is ways that we both predicted, and are unanticipated.  This is what makes the industry so compelling to the media”.  During the four-month period between April and July of 2017, monthly retail sales have seen consistent growth year over year of 4 percent or more each month. The Retail Council of Canada produces a monthly retail economic report for their members, the Retail Conditions Report, that continues to highlight these trends. This report states that Canada’s growing economy has been spurred by an increase in consumer confidence, and that while overall store traffic remains down year over year, increases have also been seen in average purchase size and conversion rates.

What this report tells us is that while traditional retail giants are struggling to maintain relevance in a world of changing consumer habits, retail itself is growing and thriving in many other ways. While several established retail brands are closing stores and seeing declining traffic, newer retailers, including ecommerce only retailers and those using different business models are expanding.

Retail Is Growing in Different Ways

E-commerce retail sales continue to grow at double-digit rates in Canada.  Retail Council of Canada’s report highlights that only fractional percentage increases are being achieved quarterly when looking at the growth of e-commerce vs retail in sales totals.  In the U.S. approximately 10% of retail is online, and in Canada that number is estimated to be between 7-9%.   What is clear is that the pace of eCommerce growth is faster than the growth in overall retail, therefore what we are seeing is channel-shift rather than overall double-digit retail growth.

In terms of Bricks & Mortar retail, LeBlanc points out that one sector that stands out is the huge growth that is being seen in the ‘dollar store’ category across the US and in Canada. These low-cost high-volume retailers are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, and their widespread growth reflects their ability to succeed in nearly any population size or demographic makeup. This trend can be partially explained by the challenges faced economically by the middle-class, and their desire to spend less for the same or similar products.

While the existence of physical retail still dominates the current and future landscape, there are some common things that are fundamentally changing the retail experience. These influencing factors are being driven by a combination of consumer habits and technology adoption. Customers are now actively seeking out a more personalized and experiential retail environment, like those being pioneered by Apple and other cutting-edge brands.

Mobile device usage trends are also driving shifts in retail, as consumers simultaneously browse and shop on their mobile device and in physical retail locations. This overlap in competition between online and physical retail locations has never been as prevalent and aggressive as it is today, and this trend is sure to continue.

What Retailers Can Do to Move Forward

There are certainly lessons that can be learned from these trends. Clinging to outdated business models is no way to ensure longevity or growth, but now is not the time to close every location and move entirely to online. Consumers still flock to retail stores, but they’re being much more selective in where they go and who gets their business. Retailers need to focus on delivering increasing value in the form of a great customer experience, as well as recognize the ability for mobile technology to drive shopper behavior.

“It will be critical for retailers to deliver a great experience online that extends to their physical retail locations”, said Dave Mack, Vice President of omni-channel retail at SCI. “This means a well-designed online experience optimized to deliver a great user experience, as well as better customer service training for retail employees, and certainly more attention paid to the environment that their customers experience within their stores.”

Those companies that invest now in the trends that are shaping their future are the ones that will be around to see it.

If your company wants to effectively prepare for the future of retail, the experts at SCI can help. Our team of logistics professionals can help evaluate the needs of your retail operations and craft an integrated logistics solution that will deliver a better customer experience, lower costs, and improve efficiency.

Contact us today to speak to one of our experts and learn how SCI can help.

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