Stores fulfill about 20% of David’s Bridal’s online orders, and ship-from-store prevents the retailer from frequent in-store discounting.

David’s Bridal Inc.’s 300 stores and two distribution centers work in harmony to fulfill online orders and replenish store inventory.

The bridal retailer’s stores are best at selling, and its two distribution centers are best at fulfillment, but both are needed to create a single pool of inventory to serve the shopper, Diane Garforth, senior director, supply chain systems and operations at David’s Bridal Inc., told Internet Retailer at the Manhattan Momentum conference in Florida this May.

The single pool of inventory allows David’s Bridal to decrease costs in terms of how much overall inventory it invests in, plus it allows the retailer to sell more products at full price.

“It actually has been transformational to have it all be one, single pool of inventory servicing both types of orders and both customers,” Garforth said.

E-commerce is roughly 10% of David’s Bridal’s sales, and stores fulfill about 20% of the retailer’s online orders, she said. While the lion’s share of the retailer’s online orders are bridesmaid and prom-related, the retailer does have some online wedding dress orders, she said.

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David’s Bridal has two warehouses, both of which are in Pennsylvania and are divided by product type: Items on hangers, such as a bridesmaid or prom dresses, are in one distribution center. Items that are not on hangers, such as its bridal gowns that are vacuumed-flat and packed, and accessories such as shoes, jewelry and headpieces, are in the other warehouse.

David’s Bridal uses Manhattan Associates Inc.’s distributed order management system to determine if an online order is fulfilled from a warehouse or store and which one. It is cheapest for the distribution center to fulfill an online order than a store, said Garforth, when factoring in the efficiencies and opportunity cost of using store labor compared with warehouse labor.

“We ship everything UPS, and the way our contract is negotiated is, as long as the package is under 7 lbs., it pretty much is the same cost to us whether it ships from California to a California customer or from Pennsylvania to a California customer,” Garforth said.

If a distribution center has the inventory, it will fulfill the e-commerce order. If it doesn’t, the order management system will then look to stores to fulfill the order. The system will factor in the distance between the store and the customer, a store’s current workload of fulfilling online orders so it doesn’t have too many orders and how much inventory the store has.

David’s Bridal stores started fulfilling online orders in 2015 with a three-store pilot. After three months, David’s Bridal deployed the program nationally.

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Stores fulfill about 10-15 e-commerce orders a day, and the retailer video-trained all of its store employees on how to fulfill online orders.

The single pool of inventory for both online and store sales allows David Bridal to not have to buy so much inventory to ensure that it has enough for each channel, and the retailer “saved a significant amount of money” having the inventory together, she says.

“I can use the money for other things like refurbishing our stores or adding a million developers so our website is even better,” Garforth says.

The single pool of inventory allows the retailer also to sell products at a full price that a store may have otherwise started discounting to move it along, she says. For example, the prom season is short, and David’s Bridal keeps most of the prom dress inventory in its stores compared to its warehouses. Toward the end of the prom season, stores may be tempted to discount the merchandise to get rid of it if they only have one size of a certain dress. However, now that David’s Bridal can expose the product online to the nearly 4 million of consumers who visit its website each month (according to web measurement firm SimilarWeb), the retailer is much more likely to sell that dress at full price, she says.

David’s Bridal has had an increase in its prom dress sales online the past few years, she says.

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David’s Bridal is No. 407 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000.

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