The days of standing in long lines at the local retail store to take advantage of a big sale were already disappearing due to a change in consumers' shopping habits, but now they are virtually gone. The idea of maneuvering through big crowds during the after-work rush at the grocery store is extremely farfetched. As consumers do more of their retail and grocery shopping from their laptops and smartphones, the demand for faster and accurate fulfillment is at an all-time high. The ability to easily grab items via pick-up or have them conveniently delivered are options the consumer would rather choose.
So, what does this mean for the company on the receiving end of these orders?
We know the expectation around convenience continues to rise, and the competition is intense. While the new normal is still taking shape due to the pandemic, retailers should turn their attention to the customer experience, response times, and innovative ways to create a more accessible and efficient fulfillment center.
The Future of E-commerce Fulfillment
Covid-19 has created a two-tier retail structure-- those that sell essential products and those that do not. If you are in the non-essential products category, it is time to start thinking outside the box. So, if you were wondering what to do with your stores, have you thought about turning them into micro-fulfillment centers?
Think of micro-fulfillment centers as the Airbnb of logistics. Airbnb is the world's largest accommodation sharing site that enables people to rent out spare spaces to guests. Similarly, accessible locations, such as dense urban spaces and the back of existing retail stores, can be converted into micro-fulfillment centers.
Retailers already have the infrastructure in place. These centers can deliver to the local community within an hour due to the centralized location of the existing brick-and-mortar. Businesses that operate through an online delivery model can capitalize on micro-fulfillment centers to reduce the costs of the last-mile-- saving on delivery costs and creating a lasting experience for the consumer.
Get a Competitive Advantage
Many businesses were left with hard financial decisions due to the pandemic. Companies are coping with furloughs, supply chain changes, shutdowns, and learning to navigate retail work in a time of social distancing. Covid-19 has left both essential and non-essential retail businesses in dismay. For some, government executive orders are making difficult decisions for them. Small businesses are doing everything they can to keep their brand alive with curbside delivery and focusing on online orders.
Retailers are shifting their strategies and are quickly starting to understand just how vital e-commerce solutions are. At AHS, we can quickly help you get your e-commerce business back up and running with solutions specifically designed to meet your company's needs. With AHS' expertise in design, equipment, and the best approach to get a return on your investment, we can ensure the following in your uniquely designed micro-fulfillment center:
- Speed – We know that speed matters! The solution put together for your business will enable shorter delivery times to meet the demands of today's market.
- Flexibility – Your sites are tailor-made to meet your unique requirements. As your needs change, your site's design and equipment will have the flexibility to change with the growth of your business.
- Scalability – To help contribute to the competitiveness, efficiency, reputation, and quality of your business, when designing your micro-fulfillment center, we keep scalability in mind as your business grows.
- Profitability – By leveraging our expertise, we ensure a return on investment for your business.
From consumer actions and spending patterns to navigating the "new normal," retailers must look ahead to find success. This retail evolution will not happen overnight, but with creative and compelling marketing strategies, innovative supply chain solutions, and ever-evolving customer experience will better illuminate the path for retailers as they navigate a world during and after the pandemic.