To meet the growing demands of consumers in terms of delivery time and location, perfectly coordinated processes are essential to online shopping cart service. Various delivery options must include the planning of logistics processes: From home delivery, to pick-up at the store, to pick-up from transfer boxes. At the same time, similar preferences for ordering and delivery times of online shoppers result in strong fluctuations in demand, which must be mitigated using holistic, intelligent systems.
Sophisticated assortment diversity
Weekly recurring peaks in addition to consistent expiry date and batch number tracking as well as gentle product handling place the highest demands on the intralogistics of grocers. This applies, in particular, to the process of consolidation, since the combination of different items of different temperature zones requires flexible system layouts for a perfectly coordinated, integrated cold chain, which takes into account the individual characteristics of the assortment. The result: A much more time-consuming and cost-intensive order processing compared to traditional branch delivery. In addition, online food retailing has a different order structure compared to traditional store delivery: While packaging units have to be consolidated for branch delivery, individual products are picked in e-grocery. The compilation of orders from the smallest trading units of different types of packaging results in high demands on the efficiency of logistics. By comparison, in the supermarket, the customers perform this logistical step by picking their own items. And unlike in the case picking warehouse for classic branch delivery, the distinctive variety of forms of consumer products does not permit full automation and robotics handling without further effort.
Served up: a variety of solutions for every taste
Process efficiency thanks to tailor-made automation is, therefore, the focus of system planning for online supermarkets and enables a significant increase in employee productivity. Flexible and high-performance system layouts that intelligently combine automation and manual processes are in greater demand than ever before. Barrier-free transport media such as compact automated guided vehicles are increasingly replacing the rigid and permanently installed transport routes of classic conveying systems out of desire for greater flexibility. Ergonomic and productivity-optimized work stations allow quick and accurate picking. The automation of non-ergonomic ancillary activities, such as the loading of transport racks contributes to the further improvement of resource utilization. At least as important are powerful, efficient consolidation buffers – in other words, a solution for decoupling delivery and picking. This enables the optimization of order picking algorithms and the associated higher picking performance. In addition, workload peaks from demand fluctuations can be smoothed out and processes better planned.
Looking beyond the warehouse
These solution components enable the efficient preparation of deliveries for the last mile. The last mile significantly influences the logistics concept. To be able to master challenges such as same-day and same-hour delivery in the future, a holistic view of the supply chain will be essential – not only, but above all in e-commerce.