The ecommerce boom of the last ten years has fundamentally changed the retail landscape, for businesses, warehouses, delivery businesses and even for marketing agencies. Shifting consumer demands have created new gaps and new areas of saturation, and commanded quick innovation and iteration of new strategies and technologies to meet this demand. What follow are some of the more transformative trends and innovations amongst these, which stand to define the online retail sector for decades to come. Read on to learn ore about retail logistics.
With ecommerce the new normal for retail businesses, the gap between product and consumer is one of the key battlegrounds in which rival enterprises compete. Shortening the gap is vital for businesses, enabling customers – as with omnichannel innovations – to feel a more seamless purchasing process. In many cases, this means addressing last-mile delivery – or the final leg of a product’s journey from fulfilment centre to customer.
Typically, businesses do not handle their own last-mile delivery services, unless hyperlocal or Amazon-sized. Hence, liaison with third-party services is vital. There was a time when last-mile delivery options were much more stratified, and when the prospect of sending items with same- or next-day priority a prohibitively expensive one for the expanding business.
Today, the same day courier is much more accessible as a logistics product, allowing businesses to offer products and delivery services competitively and conveniently. Further tech innovations in autonomous vehicle delivery services – and the impending launch of drone deliveries as a new standard – hearken to a transformed future for businesses of all sizes, and for on-demand product delivery.
Where once it would make sense for a shop or retailer to hold their own stock, the a-geographical nature of online purchasing makes hyper-localised, branch-by-branch warehousing somewhat redundant. Where multiple businesses exist under a conglomerate umbrella, omnichannel fulfilment has emerged as an elegant way to streamline the process.
All orders from all businesses are centralised, and fulfilled via the same warehouse network. Centralising inventory and fulfilment like this makes it easier for a business to meet customer expectations.
Warehousing and Automation
Speaking of warehouses, the management of stock and deliveries from warehouses is another key battleground for businesses looking to compete in the ecommerce sphere. New developments in machine learning algorithms have changed the game for warehouse retail logistics, enabling tailor-made organisational and fulfilment systems that ensure the most efficient and practical use of space and time. Automation also enables closer management of stock levels, ensuring customers are not inconvenienced by sold-out items.
Data-Driven Decision-Making and Advanced Analytics
With the advent of a new tech age, fronted by AI and analytics, the role of data in online retail has never been more important. The ability of machine learning programmes to sift through large tranches of customer and logistical data makes it easier for businesses to follow sales trends and adapt accordingly. This includes adding personal touches to the delivery experience for the customer, which are largely missing from faceless digital transactions.