Micro-Fulfillment and Modular Warehouses

What’s with all the hype with micro-fulfillment?

How can automated solutions propel warehouses to the next level? With the continuous rise in online consumer spending and e-commerce fulfillment, more warehouses and distribution centers 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 just warehouses and distribution centers. In fact, AS/RS technologies can assist any business, including customer-facing brick and mortar stores, with its capabilities. 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.

Introducing Micro-Fulfillment

Aiming to make the fulfillment process more efficient, micro-fulfillment utilizes existing warehouse and storage space to leverage order fulfillment efficiency, opening up more opportunity for in-store pick-up and in some instances offering same-day delivery. Recently, 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.

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, warehouses and distribution centers have long been a fan; however, they are rather new 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. 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 warehouse 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 warehouses well-rounded automated options with speed and efficiency is boundless. And to be able to provide customer-facing brick and mortar stores with the material handling industry solutions aimed at increasing efficiency, productivity, and profits is what every business in the supply chain should seek.