The Future of Retail
It’s all about delivery times in the era of e-commerce and immediate gratification as more and more consumers are demanding fast, accurate and reliable door-to-door service of products. Thanks to delivery powerhouses like Amazon, expectations of consumers have accelerated leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, while the retail industry has been left scrambling to meet demand. This is especially true in the wake of COVID-19, where most consumers have turned to online shopping due to social distancing protocols and brick and mortar stores shutting their doors.
From new logistic solutions that solve the Last Mile problem to implementing real-time tracking and immediate warehouse inventory updating, the future of retail is full of tactical methods designed to comply with consumer delivery desires.
The Last Mile Issue
While the focus of last-mile logistics is to deliver items to the end-users as fast as possible, the issue for many traditional retailers is they do not have the capacity to swiftly get the product to the consumer’s door.
In the past when a consumer bought a product online, the retailer would ship it from a handful of warehouses located around the country, utilizing services like UPS and other grand transportation companies to move the products across large distances. However, slowdowns occur due to the amount of time it takes to get the product from one warehouse to the other. Furthermore, these services are not specialized or equipped for rapid, short-distance, warehouse-to-home, deliveries.
To solve this issue, more and more retailers are turning their stores into mini-fulfillment centers located near their end users. Essentially mimicking the methods used by retail giants Walmart and Target, retailers like Kendra Scott and Bed Bath & Beyond have begun converting stores to compete with their competitor’s delivery times. Although this strategy gets the product closer to the consumer, offering faster, if not immediate deliveries, this still does not solve the Last Mile issue and the rising rate of same-day delivery.
This is when “gig” platforms, designed to crowdsource deliveries, comes into play. Instead of hiring their own delivery teams like Amazon or Walmart, many retailers are opting to utilize services like Shipt and Instacart to offer their customers same day delivery. In a nutshell, local delivery service along with mini-fulfillment centers opens the door for retailers to become omnichannel operations that provide and meet rapid warehouse-to-home demands.
As the two above tactics are designed to meet the Last Mile issues, both mini-fulfillment centers and crowdsourced delivery rely on real-time, immediate inventory updating and the ability for stores to communicate with each other. To become a true omnichannel operation, retailers must deploy solid, in-sync Order Management Systems, Warehouse Management Systems, and eCommerce platforms. A lofty and costly yet necessary move, in the future, more and more retailers will move to cloud-based systems, creating the scalability demanded by today’s consumers.
To learn more about how ClearFreight is adapting to our customer needs, contact one of our logistics experts today.