Urban fulfilment, warehouse drones and 24 hours to make sustainability a retail reality
By Maia on Friday, September 7th, 2018
The rise of the urban fulfilment store
The move away from the traditional hub-and-spoke model of online fulfilment continues as retailers move stock closer to customers in a bid to reduce delivery times.
Target saw a 5% lift in store comparable sales that they attributed, in part, to their efforts to put stores at the heart of their fulfilment strategy. The company is transforming its retail locations into fulfilment centres to accommodate traditional store trips, drive-thru orders, in-store pickups, and e-commerce order shipments.
Similarly, on this side of the pond, Amazon is eyeing soon-to-be-closed Homebase stores with the aim of using them as warehouses closer to the customer to better offer same-day services.
And for those that don’t have retail stores to transform into FCs, UPS launched a new service called Ware2Go. Aimed at connecting SMBs with local warehouses to streamline online orders, Ware2Go allows them to access new markets and keep up with e-commerce growth.
Expect to see more of the same from more household names in the months to come, with customer expectations only going one way.
Drones are flying under the radar
One of the more interesting applications we’ve seen recently is the delivery drone’s introverted cousin; the warehouse drone. Designed specifically for warehouses, these aerial inventory robots have been flying in the shadows for months.
They patrol the skies of warehouses, alerting management to goods that are out of stock, not in their designated spot, or set to expire. They’ve been proven to reduce waste, streamline fulfilment and cut inventory carrying costs by billions.
Look beyond the sometimes sensational headlines and you’ll find the most significant efficiencies that drones bring to the supply chain may well be hidden behind warehouse doors – for now.
Gaining through training
Within one week of each other, Uber and Deliveroo announced investments in programs that will help their riders get the training they need to improve skills both relevant to, and outside of, their work with the companies.
Deliveroo couriers now have access to a £20/month Premium Solo account on Openclassrooms for free to learn anything from a new language to many technical and non-technical topics. Meanwhile, Uber’s Director of Product says that the company is exploring the use of AI to create a more high-touch and assistive onboarding training for prospective drivers where they can actually talk to somebody who guides them through the process.
Although this isn’t a groundbreaking concept in HR, it’s good to see these companies beginning to invest in their driver community. Everyone’s experiences in the last mile will only be better for it.
We’re looking forward to this event. Not only because it’s a platform where retailers, tech solutions, start-ups, investors, and analysts join forces to work out how businesses can nail the digital revolution. But also because five of our own will be competing head-to-head with some of the industry’s strongest tech teams out there in the event’s hackathon, Tech.Sprint. The challenge – 24 hours to make sustainability a retail reality – will see teams compete to create retail-tech that is both sustainable and commercially viable. Our CTO, Danny Hawkins, will also be sneaking out mid-hack to debate The Future of the Last Mile. If you happen to be at the event, please be sure to attend the panel discussion at 9:55am on Thursday 13 September. See you there!