The basic premise behind the move to two-hour delivery is based in Amazon’s invention of Amazon PrimeAir. Amazon is already well underway with developing a two-hour delivery option for Prime members shopping at Whole Foods, asserts Dennis Green via Business Insider. This reincarnation of the Amazon Effect is forcing e-commerce fulfillment centers and warehouses to evolve in kind. Understanding its impact on warehouse management, the benefits of two-hour delivery, and how warehouses and shippers can stay competitive will be key to continued growth in e-commerce.
E-Commerce Fulfillment and Warehouse Managers Are Scrambling to Meet Customer Expectations
E-commerce fulfillment is a bit of a misnomer. Customers view it as the fulfillment of online orders, but with the recent developments in Amazon’s breadth of companies, e-commerce fulfillment is becoming more akin to Walmart’s ship-to-store and pickup options. Also, Amazon has rolled out two-hour delivery for Whole Foods products in 14 metro areas, and more are coming. As a result, warehouse managers are scrambling to meet these Amazonian expectations.
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Major E-Commerce Entities Are Working to Drive Down Delivery to Less Than Two Hours
E-commerce entities are not without a set of tools to achieve two-hour delivery. More than 90 percent of retailers today offer next-day delivery options, explains Forbes. The improvements in efficiency and demand are in place. Optimizing these processes and eliminating added costs and delays can effectively help companies move toward the two-hour delivery window, explains Adam Robinson of Cerasis.
How to Stay Competitive With Two-Hour Delivery
Warehouses must plan for growth in e-commerce fulfillment to stay successful, and they need to transition existing operations to a record-breaking picking strategy. This does not fill orders without double-checking accuracy and SKUs, but it does imply a need to get more orders from slot to dock faster. In other words, warehouses need to update their shipping and order management practices and systems now, as well as follow these steps:
- Integrate all inbound and outbound logistics management systems.
- Gain real-time visibility into inventory, moving to a just-in-time inventory management strategy.
- Automate the picking process with new technologies, such as passive RFID, Bluetooth tags, AIDC systems, and augmented reality.
- Taking advantage of shelf-space in brick-and-mortar locations to increase inventory and house inventory closer to consumers, developing a smart, omnichannel supply chain.
- Thoroughly test new systems before the go-live date.
- Gain customer feedback, especially regarding last-mile delivery successes and failures.
Integrate Your WMS and Existing Systems Now
Two-hour delivery is within reach for major retailers and Amazon, and small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) must begin the process of shifting their operations to meet this new expectation. By understanding its driving forces and tips to stay competitive, supply chain leaders can ensure their organizations’ survival. Of course, waveless picking strategies and well-integrated systems will help achieve this goal. Instead of handling the process and house and increasing operating costs, consider working with a third-party integrator, such as Veridian.