Stores as Micro Fulfillment Centers

How Brands Are Adapting to New Consumer Needs

By:  Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., COO at ShipHero

Even before today’s supply chain challenges, customer expectations for faster, high quality shipping options put a strain on eCommerce businesses. On top of the growing demand for speedier delivery and better customer support, the worldwide supply chain interruption brought on by the pandemic has driven brands to seek out new shipping solutions. 

From independent online stores to giant corporations, all retailers have had difficulty getting products to their customer’s doorstep. As the logistics landscape continues to evolve, many eCommerce companies are turning to micro-fulfillment centers as a more reliable option. 

Advantages of Micro-Fulfillment Centers (MFCs)

The size and structure of typical warehouses can make them a bit inflexible when faced with new challenges and a changing economy. As a result, micro-fulfillment centers, or MFCs, have grown in popularity among small to medium sized brands by providing a cheaper warehouse option, without the rigid limitations of traditional fulfilment providers. These facilities clear the way for faster delivery, streamlined data management and better restocking procedures. 

Faster Product Delivery & Curb-Side Pickup 

By converting existing retail space or underused warehouses, MFCs help reduce the distance between the customer and their order. Not only does this shrink the expected delivery time, but also gives buyers the option to pick up their order on-site. In recent years, curb-side pickup has become an expectation for anyone ordering products online. By switching to an MFC, eCommerce brands can offer pickups and let their customers choose the most convenient option for themselves.

The option to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) is a relatively new feature adopted by large brands in an effort to combat supply chain limitations. By employing BOPIS into the customer journey, brands can offer a convenient buying experience that MFCs make possible. Rather than shipping an order from across the country, existing store fronts in the customer’s area can help supply the item, allowing for a more cost effective method of getting products to customers. 

Leverage Retail Storage Space

Given the quick expansion of online shopping, warehouse space can be hard to come by. In fact, large brands set records for leasing retail space in 2021 as they try to find speedier shipping channels that limit last-mile logistics. Brick and mortar store fronts with underused back-room space have become valuable assets for brands looking to diversify their shipping procedures. 

If a customer places an order for an out-of-stock item, a nearby storefront might have it on hand. The product can then quickly be shipped to where the customer arranged for the pickup. Using a traditional warehouse arrangement, the customer would have to wait for the product to be restocked in order to make a purchase, or more likely, choose a different retailer altogether. MFCs can give companies a competitive edge by ensuring items for sale are actually available and can be delivered in a timely manner. 

Warehouse Data Management

Since the beginning of the pandemic, interrupted supply chains have made tracking inventory much more difficult, but smaller fulfillment centers can help simplify data management. By opting for an MFC structure, online brands get a little more insight into what’s being sold, where it’s headed and when the warehouse needs to be restocked. The extra attention that each individual shipment gets also means fewer mistaken deliveries and better quality control. This superior data management makes it easier to identify product shortages before customers order something that’s already out of stock. 

Strategic Warehouse Stocking

One of the major benefits to micro-fulfillment centers is brands can be more selective about where to send their products. Rather than stock a company’s entire inventory, these smaller facilities hold the highest selling items in their given geographic area. This tactic allows brands to strategically stock their warehouses and be better prepared to meet their customers’ demand. By getting products closer to their final destination, MFCs limit last mile shipping, allowing for speedier delivery and more satisfied customers.

The elevated level of transparency that comes with stocking an MFC means products can move from warehouse to store seamlessly, without the guessing and uncertainty that comes with a traditional fulfillment center. 

Brands Converting to Micro-fulfillment

As the new normal for shipping continues to unfold, eCommerce brands are changing along with it. Micro-fulfillment centers offer a way to overcome current pandemic shipping woes, while providing a scalable shipping solution for the years ahead. 

If you need help guaranteeing reliable, secure delivery with superior data management, then consider shipping your products with ShipHero. We’re already helping Fortune 500s and thousands of fast-growing DTC brands deliver orders safely.

If you’re new to ShipHero Fulfillment, please schedule a meeting today with our experts to learn more about how we can help you get your orders picked, packed, and delivered with our fulfillment service. No setup fees, simply pay as you go. ShipHero works to ensure that organizations invest in the solutions that match their needs, to improve productivity, revenue, and success.

Click HERE to Schedule a Meeting Today

Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., COO


About the author:  Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., is the COO of ShipHero. She is responsible for planning and executing the overall operational, legal, managerial and administrative procedures, reporting structures and operational controls of the organization. Barnett’s greatest strengths are leadership, risk mitigation, change management and a passion for business transformation. She is known for her expertise in delivering operational excellence and an ability to provide guidance and mitigating risk. Her leadership of ShipHero is grounded in a servant mentality, always doing the right thing for our stakeholders. Her passion for ShipHero comes from the ability to drive operational excellence throughout the organization impacting the lives of our employees, customers, and partners.

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