Women’s fashion retailer Cue will become the first national bricks and mortar retailer to launch three-hour delivery across the country, as the brand looks to cement itself as an omnichannel leader amid ongoing demand for more sophisticated online offers.
First reported by The Australian Financial Review, Cue has partnered with logistics software business Shippit to launch the service, which will be fulfilled from its network of 89 stores and Sydney distribution centre as an express service.
The move will position Cue and sister-brand Veronika Maine with one of the most competitive online delivery models in the country, with larger reach than even online peers such as The Iconic and Showpo.
Chief information officer Shane Lenton anticipates that the program will become as big as Cue’s existing click-and-collect offer, which is currently around 30 – 40 per cent of online sales, describing the move as a distinct competitive advantage for multichannel retailers.
“With the changing retail landscape, the expectation of customers is forever growing and as an immediacy piece this is something I don’t see as going away,” he said.
“The competitive advantage for multi-channel retailers is our landscape and our endless aisle and the inventory we have from a geography perspective.”
Cue isn’t the only retailer looking to implement store-based fulfilment as a solution to Australia’s geographical challenges, Petbarn-owner Greencross has been considering the model for some time and footwear group RCG has plans to roll-out its own three-hour delivery offer via its stores before the end of fiscal 18.
Others, including Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi have also started offering same-day delivery, while Cue’s direct competitor Specialty Fashion Group is currently working on implementing systems to launch cross-brand click-and-collect.
Lenton said that physical retailers need to respond to changing consumer demands to keep up with fast-growing online competitors.
But launching the service hasn’t been without its challenges, amongst them the fact that many traditional carriers have been wary of sending couriers into shopping centres.
“We had to find a partner who could facilitate the solutions that we wanted, the problem was that a lot of the traditional carriers don’t want to go into shopping centres, it’s not cost effective for them,” Lenton said.
Ensuring that Cue’s national inventory system could communicate with its point-of-sale platform in real-time was a multi-year journey, while working on new ways to scan labels with carriers was one of the final operational challenges.
“We have a single POS in most of ours stores, so we didn’t have room to put label printers and additional infrastructure, so with Shippit we were able to pioneer printing and getting carriers to accept labels on receipt printers,” Lenton explained.
Greencross CIO Paul Kennedy has previously signalled in-store disruption as a result of pickers moving around as a challenge for store-based models, but Lenton said Cue’s existing store designs lent themselves to a well-integrated system.
“Our priority is the customer that’s in the store…but our stores lend themselves to staff and customers moving around by design,” Lenton explained.
“We’ve built these solutions to be fully integrated into our retail management system, so the team members picking and packing are seeing things come in from POS systems.”
Lenton said the bulk of express deliveries are still coming through to its Sydney distribution centre.
Access exclusive analysis, locked news and reports with Inside Retail Weekly. Subscribe today and get our premium print publication delivered to your door every week.