Buying behavior has changed exponentially in the last few decades and, as more and more people shop online, this change continues to accelerate.

Initially online retail was limited to a handful of products. Today, we can even buy our next family car via internet, ordering the model and features we want. There is no longer a need to visit a showroom.

Online retail has also changed consumers’ expectations. Getting deliveries within days of order – often within 24 hours and even the same day – has made Immediacy and responsiveness key factors in any successful commercial enterprise. Cost is also a factor, since consumers can easily compare products and prices, and shop for best buys on their phone or tablet.

At the same time, consumers still demand quality, convenience, and great customer service. They also expect returns to be easy. In the US alone approximately 3.5 billion items are returned every year, only 20% of which are defective. Therefore, returning goods to the warehouse quickly and efficiently processing refunds are almost as important as dispatch.

The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated eCommerce growth; lock downs have caused the closure of many brick and mortar stores. Even consumers who might prefer to ‘go out’ to shop resorting to online ordering.

This change in consumer behavior and expectations in turn affects logistics and the supply chain. More than ever, speed, efficiency, and quality are essential to a successful commercial organization, and smaller businesses need to innovate to compete with the big players in the market.

Supply chains are managing increasing volume of goods and are ramping up the use of third and fourth party logistics providers (3PL and 4PL) to remain competitive, focusing on efficiency, costs, and end-to-end traceability.

Technology is also advancing to aid logistics and the supply chain process (i.e., drones for delivery, as well as artificial intelligence solutions. Against this backdrop, it is clear that bigger players are setting the pace and, to remain competitive, smaller players need to adapt. But how?

Warehousing and storage innovations help logistics remain competitive.

The answer is investing in new, more efficient, and often automated equipment for warehouses and fulfillment centers. The accuracy, speed, and efficiency of the storage operation can be greatly improved with more modern technology.

Innovative automation, racking, and shelving solutions are guaranteed to increase the capacity and efficiency of warehousing, while keeping costs down.

Automated warehousing, for example, can increase efficiency regardless of the size of operation, by optimizing the use of floor space and maximizing storage volume. Automation also:

  • Increases availability of goods
  • Keeps storage and picking error rates to a minimum
  • Minimizes throughput times

Reconfiguring pallet racking can also improve efficiency. A range of automated or semi-automated options are available, such as drive-in racking, mobile racking (MOVO), or first-in, first-out (FIFO) pallet-flow systems.

Investing in shelving that meets the needs of the goods to be stored also aids efficiency and increases capacity. For example, mobile shelving will maximize the use of floor space, while multi-tiered systems with mezzanine make full use of the height of a building.

As consumers demand more, and as expectations are raised, the supply chain and logistics industry must respond while remaining competitive. For smaller players, investments in warehousing solutions play are an effective tactic, not just now but in the future.

If you are running a logistics or supply chain operation, perhaps with 3PL or 4PL, please get in touch to discuss how automation, and racking and shelving warehouse innovations will help you remain competitive.