One click. Delivered right to your door. Guaranteed overnight delivery. The messages are alluring, says Axium Solutions…
Convenience has spurred e-commerce’s growth, with more and more retailers stepping up big-time to promote their online wares.
E-commerce annual sales estimates range from $750 billion to $1.2 trillion for that huge digital partner and sometime nemesis of the bricks and mortar store.
Ever-shortening delivery times and an ever-widening range of choice have become goals on-line retailers all strive toward to attract shoppers.
Retailers are running hard to try and catch up to Amazon, which has been dominating the e-commerce race and building the template for the online shopping experience.
The result has consumers increasingly expecting a high standard of service following the sound of that little click.
But a simple act of ordering online and the inherent promises from competing companies has created a very hungry beast.
Large distribution centers, now often called fulfillment centers, are being built at a rapid rate to keep up with the demands of an around-the-clock, personalized and fragmented distribution service.
According to the magazine Material Handling and Logistics, Amazon currently occupies approximately 66 million square feet of distribution space in the US, while Walmart is in the midst of developing or operating 1 million-square-foot projects in six major markets.
Home Depot, Target and Kohl’s are also making major investments.
On top of that, many e-commerce operators are building so-called urban sheds in the higher-rent metropolitan centers, in order to take care of that all-important “last mile” of delivery in this new fast-paced era.
The robotics sector has become a vital partner in e-commerce’s logistical maturing. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), looking like driverless forklifts, carry pallets to and from transport trailers; there are articulated robot arms that de-palletize and palletize goods; autonomous shuttles bring goods to and from their shelves, while pick robots are being developed to grab an object from a box to prepare an order.
Robotics with vision and sensors are streamlining the ordering process and bringing sophisticated real-time communications to this choreography.
Anytime, any location delivery requires not just any technology. E-commerce has been calling on the robotics sector to ensure accuracy and speed, to handle a variety of goods, keep energy costs down and handle a surge of orders.
All these requirements, and all emanating from that individual sitting at their computer or tapping their phone, simply looking forward to their item arriving at their door the next day.