E-Commerce: the driving force behind Warehouse Innovation

Thursday, 9th July 2020

The past decade has seen an incredible shift in consumer purchasing behaviour, consumer behaviour is all about ‘clicks over bricks’

The past decade has seen an incredible shift in consumer purchasing behaviour – simply take into account where we were in 2010, where Amazon still predominantly sold books, most of us bought 90% of our goods in high-street and retail park stores and price-comparison services were in their infancy.

But, as Bill Gates says, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

Our world now is very different – ten years on, consumer behaviour is all about ‘clicks over bricks’, with e-commerce transacting now making up over 25% of all retail sales, a trend that is forecast to climb significantly in the post-Covid19 environment.

Amazon has set many benchmarks as an online retailer – from their diversity of product and simple payment systems to speed of delivery, the e-commerce giant has set a pace that other online retailers are striving to match or exceed.

And one of the most interesting aspects of this boom in e-commerce trading is the impact it’s had on warehousing and logistics. With consumers expecting same-day or next-day delivery of millions of items bought online each day, the supply chain from incoming stock to picking, packing, dispatching and delivering has been under pressure to keep up with demand.

But keep up they have, with some truly innovative solutions setting new precedents for the future.

Just some of the innovations include:

Data-driven inventory management 

Consumer purchase behaviour data is now being layered into buying and stock-level management systems within distribution centres, with AI-based predictive modelling helping warehousing staff distribute stock levels more intelligently (according to demand) in their various facilities around the country. 

This means that more of the right stock can be found in warehouses with higher demand, meaning faster delivery to consumer areas that have higher purchase volumes.

Innovative storage management 

Amazon has pioneered a new ‘chaotic’ storage system in its warehouses, where new items are simply placed on any available shelving to save time. 

This may sound daft, but because their technology systems are able to identify each incoming and outbound item and maps the location of every item in the warehouse, their systems know where to find any item no matter its location. 

Staff are then able to use digital interfaces to find, pick, pack and send items as easily as before, with time-savings across the entire chain.

Better tracking ability 

E-commerce has resulted in better overall relationships between all partners in the supply chain. From suppliers of goods to online retailers, through warehousing’s relationships with courier companies, there are significantly more integrated systems which track inbound stock, its flow through warehouse and dispatch via couriers and delivery acknowledgement at the end of the chain.

These relationships are predominantly based on integrated technology, giving each partner the right amount of visibility of the supply chain to help them do their job as efficiently as possible.

And the future looks bright – as more and more purchases take place online, systems will continue to improve and leverage advances in technology to deliver even greater efficiencies across the entire supply chain.

At FFWD Ltd we pride ourselves on using technology to drive innovative courier, storage and fulfilment solutions for our customers. Contact us today on 03300 539800 to find out how we can help you.