The COVID-19 crisis presents e-retailers with two significant challenges: Meeting an expected record-breaking demand for online shopping during the holiday season while also keeping their employees safe and healthy as they fulfill those orders.

Those goals are not mutually exclusive, but meeting each objective at the same time requires innovative thinking and money.  As a result, the pandemic-plagued 2020 holiday season prompted a significant evolution in the way ecommerce retailers of all sizes process orders and get products to customers. Giants like Walmart Inc. (No. 3 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) and Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1) have announced high-profile fulfillment improvements that will make them more agile in the future. And smaller retailers are finding their own ways to adapt to the new reality.

Many of the new practices aimed at making ecommerce fulfillment more flexible, scalable and healthy will endure after the pandemic fades away, experts and retailers say.

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