7 Secrets to a Future-Forward Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategy

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What customers want, when customers want it

E-commerce and the gig economy have infiltrated nearly every shopping decision consumers make today, introducing countless delivery apps, the explosion of “click and collect,” as well as increasingly faster delivery options to consumers’ doorsteps or nearby lockers.

You name it, consumers have access to whatever they want, nearly whenever they want it. Today’s consumers have high expectations for their shopping experiences. “Digital consumers” are driven by rapid order fulfillment and delivery, with 77% of consumers more likely to shop at a store if it offers same-day delivery.

 “We don’t have this in-stock” is not an option. Consumers expect retailers to have an infinite shelf of inventory in real-time. Whether shoppers are placing orders through third-party services, online or researching online to shop in-store, they expect online inventory to match what’s on the shelf.

Micro-Fulfillment is the retailer answer to modern consumer demand

A micro-fulfillment solution leverages physical height and narrow aisles and shelves to optimize the space often seen in the backroom of a store. First, orders are input and processed by the solution’s software management system, which is ideally integrated on a broader software network. Goods are then loaded into totes using automation technology, such as a system of shuttle cars. The totes are then delivered to store fulfillment specialists who pack orders for pick-up or delivery.  
Dematic Micro-Fulfillment software enables retailers to reclaim ownership of consumer shopping data, which can be leveraged to create personalized shopping experiences for consumers. Ultimately, consumer data is the key to unlocking and maintaining consumer loyalty in today’s shopping landscape where 70% of emotionally engaged consumers expect brands to know their individual preferences.

Micro-Fulfillment solutions are compact with high density. Why? With the growth of urbanization and the demand for 24-hour delivery retailers must be close to their consumers, and Micro-Fulfillment is designed to do just that. The solution is configured to fit into smaller footprints while maintaining the density of its aisles and shelves to house large volumes of inventory. By fitting into spaces as small as 10,000 square feet, Dematic Micro-Fulfillment solutions are able to fit into the backroom of an actual retail store, or nearby urban fulfillment centers and dark stores that have significantly less square footage than large, remote distribution centers. This effectively enables retailers to maximize existing space.

While the hardware of a micro-fulfillment system can be made up of varied levels of automated technology, an ideal solution will include proven technology such as automated shuttle technology and goods-to person picking systems. Additionally, the hardware in a micro-fulfillment system should be adequately balanced with human expertise to ensure maximum impact from order to consumer fulfillment. Retailers should not underestimate the human component of their teams and of their supply chain and intralogistics vendors. This is essential to creating a differentiated shopping experience that today’s consumers demand.

The software powering any micro-fulfillment solution should provide seamless integration with other inventory management, warehouse management software (WMS), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to ensure that all stores, distribution centers, and corporate offices are networked on the same platform. The ideal software will also enable retailers to reclaim ownership of consumer shopping data from third-party delivery services to unlock and maintain consumer loyalty through personalized experiences based on consumer shopping habits and preferences.

AS/RS Conveyors, Multishuttle, GtP-Picking, DiQ Software, Biberach a.d. Riß, Germany

Micro-fulfillment technology troubleshooting must be done largely onsite. This means that retailers must have always-on access to customer service representatives to prevent downtime, ultimately helping to maintain margins and increase profitability. Retailers interested in implementing micro-fulfillment technology are likely looking to install systems at scale. This is just one of the many reasons why it is essential to have access to always-on customer service anywhere.

Micro-Fulfillment can and should be used across industries. It is optimal for any retailer with an opportunity to re-purpose retail store space. If consumers can buy online, micro-fulfillment is able to handle the order fulfillment process, easing the workload for retailers. In many operations, like Grocery and Food and Beverage, this means that an ideal solution can house and process products that require different temperatures for preservation before delivery. This requires the capability to have multiple temperature zones within one system; from room temperature to cold zone environments. Dematic Micro-Fulfillment does this across aisles, optimizing every inch of storage space.

Many existing micro-fulfillment systems are designed to be high capacity, with aisles and shelves that create a mini store for goods picking. But not all solutions allow actual human access to all of the internal workings of the hardware. In the case of downtime, or at worst, full system shutdown, it’s imperative for operators to be able to manually access the aisles and shelves to help mitigate the impact of an outage or system error.

As retailers are exploring micro-fulfillment as a solution to e-commerce business challenges, there is also a major opportunity for the technology to support inventory needs for other nearby retail locations, dark stores, and urban fulfillment centers. Micro-Fulfillment, at its best, will help retailers maximize existing space to reach new levels of sustainable operations, increasing margins and profitability for the long-term.

Why Dematic Micro-Fulfillment

Dematic’s Micro-Fulfillment solution is fully customizable for customers and can be built and installed in as little as 12 weeks. It is configured to fit into footprints as small as 10,000 square feet, such as in the back of a retail store. Such close proximity enables retailers to better utilize and maximize space, making one-hour fulfillment possible while increasing profitability. Our solution is powered by proprietary Dematic Software and proven Dematic automation technology that champions industry standards.

Additionally, Dematic’s global footprint enables implementation at scale, making it possible for customers to install multiple micro-fulfillment solutions at once, at locations worldwide. This is further supported by unmatched always-on customer service with local operations in over 25 countries.

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