The holiday season is here — and it’s sure to bring an interesting wave of sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. For ecommerce stores and brick-and-mortar locations, retailers must focus on how to compete with the bigger companies like Amazon. Fast shipping is one way to stand out.
Thanks to newer technology, fulfilling orders and sending them out can happen much quicker than it used to. Then, your business can withstand the holiday season while providing the best customer satisfaction. Here are five technologies you can use to accomplish your goals this season:
Robotics is a rapidly growing field of technology around the world. Whether it includes fully functioning robots or just robotic limbs, retailers and manufacturers can use all of these devices to optimize fulfillment and shipping times.
Robotics can assemble products on an assembly line, find inventory in the warehouse and even assist individuals in retail stores. With these robots doing the tedious work, human employees can focus on other, more pressing tasks. Robots can operate without taking breaks and speed up order fulfillment and shipping.
With light detection and ranging (LIDAR) scanning, robots can function autonomously without needing human input. In retail stores or massive warehouses, they can track down specific products and misplaced items. Robots can do it all while transmitting real-time feedback for you to act on quickly.
2. Big Data
For robots and any other tech in the workplace, having a way to take action is necessary. For instance, if an item is missing with no way to find it, shipping becomes much slower than it should be. Using Internet of Things (IoT)-based trackers on inventory items shows where everything is.
These sensors then transmit big data to a central system. They can integrate with machinery and standard control units within the workplace. Big data from the sensors can also report on air quality, temperature and humidity — which are important for human health and productivity.
These sensors can track equipment performance as well, predicting when machines will need maintenance.
3. Barcode Scanners
Barcodes have been a necessary part of retail and shipping work for countless years. They track where packages go and provide consumers with information and the latest updates on their items. In the warehouse, though, you can take things to the next level.
Barcode scanners now have a wearable component. Workers can wear them around their wrists while they automatically transfer the information as they normally would. Running into difficulties scanning barcodes while handling packages is inefficient. Instead, you can scan the package by just moving your wrist.
That way, operations run more smoothly with fewer errors and packaging difficulties. During the holidays, when production and sales are at their peaks, efficiency is necessary. Wearable barcode scanners are the key to that efficiency.
4. Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles, whether they’re for commercial or business use, are popping up all over the globe. With companies like Waymo greenlighting their autonomous taxis for consumer use in Phoenix, these vehicles are set to make big waves.
For faster delivery, retailers will need to start tapping into opportunities like these as these technologies become more widely available. Food vendors are already adapting to autonomous deliveries on smaller scales. Retailers can start doing the same when possible.
Smaller businesses, especially, should be looking for tech opportunities in the same way that bigger companies like Amazon are doing. Keep an eye on drone deliveries. Though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hasn’t regulated them or permitted them for commercial use, new guidelines are sure to pass in the coming months.
5. In-Store Pickup
Shipping doesn’t only apply to sending items to consumers’ homes. Shoppers can also elect to pick up their items in a retail location. If your store isn’t already offering pickup options, it should start immediately. Many retailers offer in-store pickup free of shipping costs, which is an incentive for the customer. If customers choose this route, shipping to the store will be faster for you than sending packages from the distributor on a vehicle that has to make numerous stops.
Brief, But Lasting Financial Gains From Improved Holiday Shipping Times
The holiday season doesn’t last long. However, it is one of the most impactful and financially lasting times for retailers. To provide the best customer satisfaction and compete with massive companies this holiday season, fast shipping is the best area to focus on. Use these tech tips to excel and thrive through it all.
Credit: Devin Partida is a retail writer and blogger. You can read more posts from Devin at ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.