Ship from Store: Definition and 6 Benefits for Retailers (2024)

ship from store strategy

Global ecommerce is projected to grow by 56% over the next few years, reaching about $8.1 trillion by 2026.

Meanwhile, ecommerce customers’ expectations continue to rise, especially around fulfillment; when asked how quickly they expected to take delivery of an online purchase, 41% of global shoppers said they hoped to receive it within 24 hours.

Ecommerce fulfillment is now a critical business function for retailers. In recent years, an increasing number of retailers have adopted a ship-from-store approach: shipping deliveries directly from their own stores, alongside or instead of from a centralized fulfillment center.

In this article, learn the basics of a ship-from-store strategy, discover its six main benefits, and, if you’re a retailer considering your options, how to make an informed decision on whether ship from store suits your business.

Ship from store meaning

Ship from store is what a retail company does when it fulfills an order from a physical store rather than from a warehouse or fulfillment center. It is also known as deliver from store. Choosing the particular store from which an order will be shipped depends on the supplying store’s inventory, proximity to customer delivery location, and other factors.

When might a retailer ship from store?

The need to support online sales with prompt delivery has been a priority for retailers for many years—and will continue to be so. In 2023, the ecommerce share of total retail sales is projected at 20.2%, and is expected to reach 23.3% by 2026.

For retailers with a physical store or a network of stores, ship from store can significantly reduce fulfillment costs. If retailers are able to handle the packing and shipping of products themselves, and avoid unnecessary costs from having to ship unsold merchandise back to a warehouse, both money and time can be saved. 

This can be particularly beneficial for small retailers with smaller budgets, especially those serving local communities.

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6 benefits of ship from store fulfillment

The COVID-19 pandemic brought huge growth in ecommerce. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, global ecommerce sales grew by a record 25.7%.For retailers, additional warehouse space to handle this demand was difficult to come by, so many turned to their existing storefronts to ramp up fulfillment, becoming part of a ship from store boom. Many of these businesses have continued to ship from store, having discovered its benefits. Here are six primary benefits of using a ship from store approach.

Puts inventory closer to the customer 

Centralized distribution centers and freight warehouses tend to be located away from residential areas and near airports, railroad terminals, ports, and major highway intersections.Stores, on the other hand, are normally located where customers can find them—that is, in or near residential neighborhoods. By fulfilling orders from a store, retailers can reduce the distance an item has to travel to reach the customer.

Offers fast delivery speed

It also reduces the time an article has to travel: geographical proximity means stores can offer their customers relatively quick delivery, often within the same day. This is very attractive to customers, and a significant competitive advantage to retailers who can offer it.

Lowers shipping cost

By storing inventory close to online shoppers, shipping from store not only facilitates quick delivery, it enables retailers to manage their own deliveries without the loss of control and potential cost overruns of a third-party logistics company. 

Supports in-store pickup

Holding inventory in store also supports in-store pickup for customers. For in-store pickup to provide the maximum benefit, it needs to be handled well. The package needs to be ready to go at the time given to the customer, and the overall pickup needs to be a pleasant experience for the customer. If it is, this can promote customer loyalty and, often, encourage add-on purchases while the customer is in the store.

Improves efficiency in the store

To be effective, ship from store requires precise and up-to-the-minute inventory control, a well-organized shipping and handling operation, and tight coordination with customer service employees. Otherwise, in-store customers may not get the attention they need, or order accuracy may suffer as employees attempt to multitask.

Conclusion: Would ship from store work for you?

Consumer demand for quick delivery of ecommerce orders continues to increase. Given that, and given the still-growing adoption of ecommerce by shoppers, ship from store can offer retailers both reduced shipping and handling costs and improved customer relations.

Others, however, have found ways to speed delivery time without drastically altering their internal inventory handling system. If you’re a retailer considering ship from store, it’s recommended you take a close look at your distribution and store operations to make sure it will work for your business and your customers.

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Ship from store FAQ

What does ship from store mean?

Ship from store means fulfilling ecommerce orders from your brick-and-mortar stores rather than from a centralized warehouse or fulfillment center.

How does ship from store work?

With ship from store, when an online order is received, it is forwarded to one of the retailer’s physical stores for fulfillment. There, store personnel pull the item(s) involved from inventory, package and label them, and ship them to the customer.

What are some examples of ship from store?

Some of the largest nationwide chains, such as Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s, have adopted ship from store. Target, in fact, is said to fulfill the vast majority of its orders this way. Other retailers, such as Gap, offer a variant in the form of in-store pickup.