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Retail Automation and Supply Chains

The pandemic dramatically changed consumer behavior, forcing retailers to make sudden shifts while putting unprecedented pressure on their supply chains. Due to COVID-19, there has been a substantial increase in demand for ecommerce. There are however still some who prefer to shop in person, but their visit frequency has decreased while their basket size has grown.

These shifts have forced retailers to adapt and adjust their business models while at the same time deal with supply chain and retail ecosystem issues. Two major results from these changes are ongoing strains on supply chains and an increased focus on retail automation.

Let’s look at each in more depth.

Ongoing Strains on Supply Chains

As retailers are being treated more like fulfillment centers rather than brick-and-mortar stores, supply chains continue to feel the impact and strain. Not surprisingly, numerous retailers have come to realize that their supply chain infrastructure is simply not built to keep up with this type of demand.

To help meet the demand, many retailers have added fulfillment centers, some of which are being solely dedicated to e-commerce. Simultaneously, retailers continue to work on expanding their logistic networks while maintaining maximum efficiency.

Due to the changes brought about by the pandemic, supply chains, logistics, and last-mile systems have become more important than ever to the retail industry.

Retail Automation

Keeping in mind the struggles retailers are experiencing, automation has become increasingly important. Retail automation includes robots, physical mobile automation, fixed infrastructures, computer vision, and shelf-edge cameras. Obviously, it is a broad concept that involves an array of technology including AI, mechanical training, robotics, data analytics, and virtual technology.

As consumer behavior shifts and supply chains are pressured, more and more businesses are finding ways to use these systems to improve operations while more efficiently handling replenishment, fulfillment, deliveries, and customer experience.


The COVID-19 crisis has led to changes in consumer behavior that many anticipate will continue even after the pandemic has ended. These shifts have exposed weaknesses in supply chains and logistics while bringing light to the need for improved networks and systems. As a result, retailers will continue to utilize retail automation and work on strengthening their logistics network. Doing so is necessary to meet consumer needs and to stay competitive.

The pandemic has been the catalyst for several changes to retailers and their customers. Covid has shown us the importance of supply chains and the need to make them better and more reliable. Having a logistics partner that you can trust is an easy and effective way to improve your logistics. To learn how ClearFreight can help you strengthen your business’s supply chain, contact us today.

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