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Williams-Sonoma employs crowdsourcing to phase out the middleman

Williams-Sonoma has tapped Deliv, a crowdsourcing delivery solution, to use its physical locations as distribution centers to fulfill online orders and enable omni-channel shopping experiences for consumers.

Though the majority of retail sales are made in-store, online shopping is grabbing market share. The need for speedy delivery will only grow stronger as rapid shipping is replacing free shipping and has become almost a requirement for consumers who are increasingly shopping on-the-go from their mobile devices.

“Clearly there’s been a race to get packages faster and cheaper to the consumer,” said Ed Yruma, equity research analyst with KeyBanc, Cleveland.

“Consumers expect that they know when the package is going to arrive and … to arrive fairly quickly.”

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up Deliv has announced partnerships with four operators covering more than 660 malls, including Simon Property Group and General Growth Partners, offering same-day delivery for merchandise bought in-store or online.

Deliv, a peer-to-peer network of shoppers and delivery people designed to give customers the choice of receiving their items whenever and wherever they want. The news comes at a time when consumers’ options for same-day delivery are growing via services such as eBay Now, AmazonFresh and Google Shopping Express.

This enables retailers to maintain a direct relationship with customers without the need to redirect retailer’s customers to a third party to transact and arrange same-day delivery.

Deliv, recently announced it has joined IBM’s Ready for Smarter Commerce partner program, which will enable IBM retail clients to offer Deliv same-day delivery services from their own store networks to provide the most efficient cost option.

“Deliv and IBM together are solving the same-day delivery challenge by enabling retailers to take advantage of their store networks and intelligently leverage distributed inventory,” said Errol Denger, director of product management, IBM, Armonk, NY.

By joining the Ready for Smarter Commerce partner program and using the integration developed as part of this program, Deliv enables IBM retailers to quickly and easily add same-day delivery as an option for any channel, including online, mobile, call center or in store checkout. By combining the intelligent fulfilment capabilities from IBM Smarter Commerce solutions with the pre-vetted delivery network and route optimization technology from Deliv, retailers can now achieve optimized delivery efficiency to address the same-day delivery challenge.

Same-day fulfillment Using the Deliv service, same-day fulfillment becomes an option at the time of checkout on the retailer’s Web site, mobile app or inside their brick and mortar store.

Retailers are keen to use fulfillment options as a way to maintain and strengthen the direct relationship between the retailer and consumer. All deliveries can be fulfilled from local stores, allowing each retailer to further provide a omni-channel experience to their customers.

Clients such as Williams-Sonoma and are working with Deliv services to ensure a consistent and high-quality shopping experience.

Amazon is the leader in the online retail and has been on the forefront of accelerated delivery to change consumer expectation on timeliness.

Much fuss has generated around the concept of “show-rooming” at bricks–and-mortar stores, where customers use their smartphones to compare the cost of a product on a physical store’s shelf against online competitors — typically Amazon. But immediate cost-comparison is a fact of life, online or off, and Amazon is a top rival to online merchants as well.

In comparison to Amazon, bricks–and-mortar retailers are at a disadvantage because of their higher real estate, labor, and inventory costs. But merchants are continuing to change this by employing the network of their local stores.

Walmart has allowed consumers to pick up online orders at favorite location the same day they order.

Last holiday season, the retail giant launched a test of same-day delivery for online orders from its stores in a number of cities. Both leveraged Walmart’s immense inventory in geographically targeted locations. The company is also considering crowdsourcing its local, same-day delivery to customers, who would receive discounts on their shopping bill in exchange for their efforts.

Conversely, Williams-Sonoma has used both its store locations and catalogs to build online business. Over 40 percent of its revenue now comes through the online channel.

“This is about smart execution and the ability to cost effectively fulfill orders in a world where every minute matters to customers,” Mr. Denger said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York