Micro-fulfillment Strategies for the Future of Omnichannel Retail

Major retailers in the online space are battling against high customer expectations to deliver the best experiences possible. Today’s consumers want as little time between making a purchase and product delivery as possible. The e-commerce landscape has changed significantly in recent years and will continue to evolve as distribution centers (DCs) look for unique ways to remain competitive and increase their automation and fulfillment efforts.

The e-commerce experience has changed from making a purchase and having to wait a few days (or even a week) before receiving your item(s). Options didn’t exist for having an order fulfilled and delivered by the next day, or even a few hours after purchase. But now these quick turnaround times often can present unplanned disruptions to in-store operations.

Brick-and-mortar retailers can use their stores for an easy pick-up location. The problem for fulfilling online orders in-store means that storage space is limited. Larger distribution and fulfillment centers do not have the ability to utilize in-store space for fulfillment purposes. In order to meet delivery windows of a few hours or the next day, they’ve had to invest in smaller, micro-fulfillment centers (or hubs), that are often much closer to urban areas where the real estate is more expensive — cutting into profit margins. Even the food retail industry has changed the way some consumers grocery shop; many offer pick-up solutions that allow customers to stay in their car and avoid the whole in-store shopping experience.

To prepare for the future of micro-fulfillment in the ever-changing e-commerce landscape, retail stores and fulfillment centers alike are investing in technology that will help ease the burden of tight turnaround times and high customer demands. High-density storage reduces storage space by up to 85%, which assists fulfillment hubs with their space limitations. Robotic integration can store and retrieve items, which can free up human labor to focus on other tasks. 

Download our white paper to learn more about micro-fulfillment solutions.