The surge in demand for grocery delivery and pickup has caused long lines and exposed the flaws in manual picking methods for in-store fulfillment and distribution.
This blog post focuses on some of the best practices (micro-fulfillment) retailers can implement right now to optimize their store-based picking operations and make the most of the eCommerce grocery opportunity in the future.
First, let’s see some challenges faced by the retail industry when it comes to picking.
Major Challenges associated with Picking in Stores
Despite the fact that store fulfillment saves money on shipping and packaging, picking costs in stores are substantially greater than in fulfillment centers for a variety of reasons:
- Inventory tracking and accuracy issues with a diverse group of customers.
- Picking efficiency is not optimal in store layouts and product slotting.
- Customer annoyance from navigating around picking carts while shopping for themselves.
- Small-format/urban stores may not have the area to dedicate to order assembly in order to make it more efficient.
How Micro-Fulfillment Can Help Mitigate Warehouse Picking Challenges
Micro-fulfillment is a tactic used by retailers to improve the efficiency of the fulfillment process, from accepting an online purchase to packing it and, in certain situations, providing last-mile automate shipping.
The strategy tries to blend the efficiency of huge, automated warehouses with the rapidity of localized, in-store pick-up. Furthermore, locating micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) within cities can significantly shorten the distance between an ordered product and a client, lowering the cost and speed of last-mile delivery.
Since it makes use of space that merchants already own or lease, using storefronts as fulfillment centers can save money on real estate expenditures that would otherwise be spent on leasing a big warehouse or distribution center.
MFCs can also save retailers money because they allow them to adopt a subscription model. In which they can only rent space in a center run by a micro-fulfillment company. Retailers don’t have to invest in infrastructure up front with this technique, and they can lease out space in reaction to changing demand.
Use mobile carts to provide pickers the ability to fulfill many orders at once
Picking one order at a time isn’t always the most efficient use of a worker’s time in retail. When a worker goes to fill an order, they want to pull inventory for numerous orders at the same time, which necessitates creative organization to keep SKUs for distinct orders separate until they reach the packing stations.
Mobile picking carts allow workers to store vast volumes of goods and subsequently sort SKUs into individual orders, increasing efficiency significantly.
Reduce picker travel time by condensing inventory
The more jobs a person can complete in a given shift, the easier it is to access inventory. A mobile order picking cart is meant to keep inventory organized throughout the fulfillment process. When used in conjunction with a high-density storage solution, the storage solutions will reduce picker trip time and boost productivity.
This powerful combination saves space and time, allowing workers to choose more orders at the same time. Less roaming throughout the plant creates a more pleasant working atmosphere while also increasing picks-per-hour and overall order accuracy.
Improve order accuracy by storing and organizing inventory on the go
Few things wreak havoc on a customer’s experience like waiting for an order to arrive only to receive the incorrect items. Picking carts can assist in resolving this issue. Throughout the fulfillment process, they provide an organized approach to pick and classify things.
Customer service: agility and speed improve the customer experience
With nearly every type of goods available online, the number of items sold by a single retailer is no longer an important aspect. Now, one of important way for retailers to differentiate themselves is to compete on basis of providing rapid, low-cost delivery.
Big supermarkets, such as Walmart, have had to shift their attention away from in-store sales. And toward improved delivery services for online shoppers. In several US states, Walmart now provides same-day delivery, which includes groceries.
The hyperlocal positioning of MFCs, and their tailored product assortment may make it easier to deliver orders to customers. In some cases, the MFC approach for supermarket fulfillment can deliver orders as soon as one hour after they are placed.
The Advantages Associated with Micro-Distribution
A micro-distribution system allows businesses to tap into the burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit in many emerging nations. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, must take the long view to ensure that clients receive constant high-quality service.
Micro distributors are more adaptable to changing consumer demands. For example, work longer hours and make deliveries on weekends and at night. They can provide low-income customers with credit. We are in a far better position to handle accounts receivables. since they “live and breathe” the areas in work.
Optimizing Retail Space with MWI Solutions
Deliveries that are faster and less expensive are especially critical in the grocery industry, where margins are already razor-thin. Order fulfillment that is less expensive may allow businesses to pass savings to customers, giving them a competitive advantage.
The mobile picking carts available at MWI Solutions solve common retail storage problems including SKU multiplication, seasonal demands, and regular restocking concerns by providing a cost-effective solution that can be introduced quickly and used to adapt to current buyer trends.