Simple storage advantage for maturing e-commerce fulfilment.

Simple storage advantage for maturing e-commerce fulfilment.

Simple solutions that can offer a sizeable advantage towards an e-tailer’s bottom line, writes Edward Hutchison, Managing Director of BITO Storage Systems.

IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) is the voice of e-retail in the UK. Its annual e-retail sales index has, since 2000, charted the rise of Internet retail. The 2017 Index, released at the end of January, showed that while online retail sales are were up 12.1% on average year-on-year in 2017, this growth was below both that year’s forecast and the 2016 figure – signs of a maturing industry, perhaps?

Tracking IMRG figures back to 2009 reveals a ‘bounce pattern’ of peaks in the year-on-year growth figures, which hit the heights in 2010, 2013 and 2016. These years correlate to disruptors in the market such as improved Internet access in 2010, the arrival of tablets in 2013 and a move to mobile commerce on smart phones in 2016. This pattern is expected to continue with increased growth in 2019 stimulated by the latest technology such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) services from retailers that will anticipate orders, or voice activated shopping.

Irrespective of the rate of growth, e-commerce has established itself as an important part of everyday life for shoppers and a huge competitive urgency to fulfil e-commerce efficiently remains. You can be sure that the dominant e-tailers are doing lots of clever and expensive things to deliver reliable and cost effective service and to gain the ability to handle surges in demand, whether from regular peaks like Christmas and Black Friday or from longer term growth, driven by new disruptors.

The challenge is keeping up. The good news is there are plenty of straightforward and practical solutions that can deliver enormous efficiency in e-commerce fulfilment. Nestable containers are one good example, particularly for grocery fulfilment. Mathematicians are telling us that 600 x 400 foot print containers with two-thirds and one-third size variants are the way ahead for e-commerce delivery and storage in fulfilment centres. At BITO we believe these containers provide an ideal solution, particularly for the growing number of grocery deliveries direct to the customer.

We also believe the e-commerce sector likes shelving that can be configured in a broader range of sizes. This is to accommodate the large number of pick locations for small volumes of SKUs, a set up that characterise ‘e-fulfilment’.

BITO will soon be expanding its shelving range to reflect this demand. A 1500 mm wide shelf will be the widest in BITO’s boltless shelving system – it is currently 1300 mm. The narrowest shelf will be 150 mm (it is currently 300 mm), and, in addition to the current 40 mm depth, there will be a 25 mm option. These additional sizes, which will be made possible in new plant at BITO’s manufacturing facilities in Germany, will make it easier to configure shelving to suit to e-commerce retailers.

These are just a couple of simple solutions that can offer a sizeable advantage towards an e-tailer’s bottom line.

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