Last mile fulfillment presents an opportunity for convenience retailers to grow sales and expand customer reach, according to a newly released NACS Research study, “NACS Last Mile Fulfillment in Convenience Retail.”

While more than half of all of convenience retailers (57%) currently offer some form of last mile fulfillment, many who do not may be missing potential sales due to changes in shopper purchase and service expectations. However, retailers offering last mile fulfillment options too quickly may not be fully aware of potential pitfalls that could limit their effectiveness.

“Our findings show convenience retailers are employing a wide range of last mile fulfillment options with some being more popular than others,” said Lori Stillman, vice president of research at NACS. “We also found that one third-party provider is being leveraged more so than others, while many locations are using their own staff for delivery.”

The landmark study by NACS Research includes findings from 140 convenience retailers around the world, representing single-store operators to companies with 500-plus stores. The study explores how readily convenience retailers are adopting last mile fulfillment, current and anticipated use of delivery services, retailer options for accepting orders, and the difficulties retailers face with adopting last mile fulfillment services.

NACS defines last mile fulfillment services as order fulfillment processes that deliver goods to a destination. Fulfillment could occur to the customer’s designated address (e.g. home or office), the retail parking lot (curbside pick-up), lockers or in-store pick-up.

Industry suppliers can also use last mile fulfillment to increase product reach. “There is an opportunity for suppliers to educate retailers on how last mile fulfillment can more effectively match products to changing consumer behaviors—like those that will have a lasting impact because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stillman. “Additionally, third-party last mile service providers will see how the convenience landscape differs from other delivery and gain a better understanding of how QSR delivery both differs and compares to convenience retail,” she said.

Download a free, digital copy of the NACS Last Mile Fulfillment in Convenience Retail report: Convenience.org/LastMile.