With competition in the eCommerce space maintaining consistent growth, now, more than ever, it is imperative to open an endless aisle. During Connected Commerce 2020, we interviewed panelists from Wine Enthusiast, Kroger, FULLBeauty Brands, BBQGuys, and RMW Commerce Consulting on how implementing the endless aisle has impacted their business. In this blog, we’re recapping the session and highlighting key benefits of implementing an endless aisle.
Customers are turning to online sites to shop everything from grocery items to patio furniture. Kroger, in particular, covers a wide breadth of product assortment and is shifting from being a local grocer to a one-stop shop. However, customers used to quickly picking up essentials from the store expect the instant gratification from delivery purchases, too. Leveraging a drop ship model to work with various suppliers and 3PLs enables the ability to ship anywhere at any time, meeting consumer demands.
Additionally, these suppliers facilitate testing new products. Customer insights fuel data driven decisions around what items to start selling. Because these orders are fulfilled and shipped directly from the supplier, there is no inventory risks. The ease of proper integration with new suppliers allows quick success, or quick failure in product sales. But, again, as there is no real retailer risk, unsuccessful products can be quickly removed and replaced by new items. By reviewing sales data and top sellers, this impacts further product expansion.
As it is necessary for many retailers to make the shift into becoming a lifestyle brand, this data dictates what areas to expand into next. FULLBeauty brands relied heavily on data and a drop ship strategy as they embraced becoming a lifestyle brand and expanded from apparel to home goods. Drop ship also helped cut back on excess inventory, specifically in apparel & accessories. Retailers can purchase “safe” colors and top selling items while offering a full product line via drop ship. This ensure retailers are not stuck sitting on lots of pieces that didn’t sell, rather they can leverage brand suppliers to delight customers with new and unexpected product swatches and inventory.
Warehouse space is limited. Beyond the cost risk of purchasing and offering risky inventory options, shelf space must be saved for products that move. However, when expanding top sellers, shelf space is taken up. Rather than deal with the hassle of opening up new warehouses to increase space, drop ship suppliers can warehouse and fulfill orders for new items on your behalf. This is especially helpful for large and seasonal items. Retailers can maintain their brand by requiring their drop ship partners to utilize branded packing slips and special packing materials. Additionally, strict SLAs can be put in place to ensure customer expectations are being met. These can be monitored by both parties within a drop ship automation web portal.
Beyond the cost savings associated with shelf space, partnering with specific suppliers can increase product range capabilities. Wine Enthusiast partnered with companies that specialize in personalization to offer their customers a wide variety of customizable options from cheese boards to barrel tables. This saved Wine Enthusiast the cost of investing in expensive machines for personalization and helped them expand deeper into the gifting category.
Finally, there is a significant SEO benefit associated with the endless aisle. Shoppers looking for specific brands can turn to search engines to look where to buy their favorite goods. With a good keyword strategy and page optimization, retailers can rank for brand keywords and capture new customers.
In today’s digital commerce market, competition is heavy. Expanding product assortment via drop shipping opens up an endless aisle of virtual inventory – casting a wider net to attract new customers and delighting repeat shoppers. Look at trends to increase assortment, as customer data and inventory reports reflect top selling items and categories. With data driven decisions and trustworthy partners, drop shipping unlocks numerous benefits with little risk and upfront costs. To view the customer panel, click here.