To execute a successful ship-from-store strategy, companies need to have technology staff and tools that understand both consumer trends and company goals. The Gap has effectively connected these two halves according to Information Week.
From the article:
To bridge those two inventory sources, Gap came up with an algorithm, known as Ship From Store, at the end of 2012 and implemented it in the website e-commerce system. Ship From Store lets online shoppers buy directly from store inventory — though not from all stores, a factor that’s key to making the new feature profitable.
The challenge was that the e-commerce system would bog down if it had to check the inventory of every store, which changes hour by hour. So knowing which stores to include is “the secret sauce,” says Paul Chapman, Gap’s senior VP of IT. Asked how many stores the system taps, or what percentage of online shoppers find items in warehouses compared with before Ship From Store, Chapman says that’s proprietary information. Other retailers, Chapman believes, are working on this same Ship From Store concept.
Another reason not all Gap locations are included: The staff in participating stores must be trained and equipped to receive an order and ship the goods, the same as a fulfillment and distribution center. When the website tells a customer that a Ship From Store delivery will occur the next day, “it’s up to us to make that happen,” says Chapman. His developers have blended Ship From Store into the e-commerce system so that customers aren’t aware of it.