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Micro-fulfillment Madness

- March 18, 2021


What’s all the buzz with micro-fulfillment? And how can automated solutions propel businesses to the next level? With the continuous rise in online consumer spending and e-commerce fulfillment, brick and mortar stores are turning towards AS/RS (automated storage and retrieval systems) technologies to serve, meet, and expand the demands of their business. These technologies, however, are not exclusive to distribution. In fact, AS/RS technologies can assist any business with its capabilities. Whereas, foot traffic amongst some businesses has decreased, there is a resilience to grow and expand in bigger, bolder, and better ways. Retail establishments are able to take an existing footprint and double it down as an internal fulfillment center, incorporating small-scale warehouses to procure multiple processes while maximizing fulfillment capabilities. Enter micro-fulfillment. 

Aiming to make the fulfillment process more efficient, micro-fulfillment utilizes existing space to leverage order fulfillment efficiency, opening up more opportunity for in-store pick-up and in some instances offering same-day delivery. Earlier this year, Walmart announced a move to build compact, modular warehouses in an effort to serve multiple purposes within their facilities. In doing so, an implementation of AS/RS systems will create a dynamic process between automation and micro-fulfillment.

The future is in micro-fulfillment. So, how will AS/RS and micro-fulfillment meet the moment to successfully advance businesses while fulfilling consumer demands? AS/RS is not new to the material handling industry, but rather newer to brick and mortar. Designed to handle, store and retrieve materials and products using automation, these automated technology processes are controlled with speed and accuracy to increase storage, reduce physical labor and track inventory. Fundamentally, these systems can transform any warehouse (or retail) offering additional benefits in providing a very clear and precise method to order fulfillment—ultimately delivering to the end user. Some of the many benefits include increased storage, throughput and accuracy, real-time inventory control, and increased labor productivity through ergonomics by delivering items directly to the operator. Implementing these solutions to fulfill efficiency within can and will only enhance overall operations. 

Taking AS/RS technologies and micro-fulfillment ideals and merging the two may very well be the road well traveled moving forward. The opportunity to expand existing fulfillment by offering businesses well-rounded automated options with speed and efficiency is boundless. And to be able to provide simple brick and mortar stores with the material handling industry solutions aimed at increasing efficiency, productivity, and profits is what every business should seek.

Author: Heather Connors, Director of Marketing, Conveyor Handling Company


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