It’s never been more important for retailers to stay up to date with state-of-the-art technology that enables them to provide excellent experiences throughout the entire customer journey—including fulfillment and delivery.
“E-commerce changes so fast, and oftentimes updating technology can take a year or more,” says Don Caddy, chief operations officer at Engineering Innovation Inc., a parcel processing company. “By then, everything has changed again, and that new technology is out of date.”
Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc. and other e-commerce giants have driven consumers to expect fast delivery, forcing other retailers to keep up or risk losing sales. That can pose challenges because retailers don’t want to undergo costly, time-consuming technology updates, Caddy says.
“Hiring additional labor to support the increased workload seems like the right solution,” Caddy says. “But the reality is, in many cases—especially during peak times—there just isn’t enough labor out there.” For instance, during the 2017 peak holiday shopping season in Indianapolis, one of Engineering Innovation’s clients said there was one applicant for every 10 fulfillment and distribution center jobs.
Retailers looking for a more efficient and cost-effective option for improving their fulfillment and delivery capabilities should consider a parcel automation system tailored to their specific shipping requirements, Caddy says. “Retailers with parcel automation can maintain their standards of productivity and accuracy, while using fewer laborers—making it especially beneficial during busy peak shopping seasons,” he says.
However, because every retailer is different so are the capabilities they need in their parcel automation systems. “What may work well for one retailer, may not work for another,” he says, noting that’s why Engineering Innovation created its Chameleon automated system.
Chameleon is made up of different modules that can, for instance, weigh packages, measure a package’s dimensions, read bar codes, add labels and sort packages. A retailer can configure the pieces it needs to fit its specific needs. “The modules allow the tool to be customized for each retailer,” Caddy says. “It’s essentially a custom, off-the-shelf solution—without the retailer having to undergo the time and expense of building a custom system.”
Retailers can also reconfigure Chameleon to operate for different purposes depending on the situation. “One Chameleon user, for example, might use the tool to weigh and dimension the parcel, read addresses on parcels, print and apply a label, and then sort the packages, while another might use it to sort bar coded items for fulfillment,” he says. “And because it’s modular, Chameleon can easily be moved around to different warehouses if necessary.”
Most importantly, Caddy says, Chameleon can grow with a retailer’s business. “We provide solutions that can help them out today, but also keep up with the business as it expands—either through added functionality or increased speed,” he says. “They don’t have to worry about the technology becoming obsolete in a year.”
In today’s age of increasing competition, advancing technology and growing customer demands, Caddy says retailers need to consider automating their fulfillment and delivery function sooner than later. “Automation tools let retailers process orders with greater efficiency and flexibility,” he says. “It’s the only way they can compete in this constantly evolving—and often unpredictable—e-commerce landscape.”Favorite