Success doesn’t come easy in e-commerce. Store owners must balance a growing web of details to edge out competitors and scale. Site security, store layout, pricing, customer experience and branding are usually mentioned when discussing recipes for e-commerce success — but what about the key to increasing your fulfillment volume?
Unless you’re selling on a marketplace, warehousing has the potential to make or break your store’s profitability. From storage layouts and order picking to reverse logistics processes and inventory management — fine-tuning these areas takes more than a can-do attitude.
Thankfully, these four startups, among others, are working on solutions to revolutionize warehousing.
Five-minute fulfillment? One-hour delivery? Zero upfront investment? In most scenarios, these things all sound too good to be true. However, Commonsense Robotics, fresh off a $26 million fundraising round in February 2018, is making cost-effective, speedy fulfillment a reality.
Commonsense is developing an on-demand logistics platform for grocers behind an ambitious mission: “Profitable one-hour online groceries. For everyone.” The startup builds their fulfillment centers in the densest parts of cities to maximize delivery capacity. Inside their micro-fulfillment warehouses is a fluid harmony of robotics and artificial intelligence. Commonsense’s low-cost operating infrastructure lets them pass down the savings through a pay-as-you-go service model. See how Commonsense works in this video comparing their service with a pizza delivery.
Contributing to another exciting piece of the warehouse puzzle is Seegrid, which is providing much-needed warehouse vehicle automation technology, known as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or vision guided vehicles (VGVs). With ‘Seegrid Vision,’ VGVs in the form of tow tractor and pallet trucks can navigate warehouses without magnets, lasers, wires or tape. Together with ‘Seegrid Supervisor,’ large warehouses can streamline their services while gaining complete visibility into the movement of goods. Seegrid already works with massive brands like Boeing, Amazon, GM and Whirlpool. The company’s technology can reduce operational costs and avoid shipping delays, making VGVs and 360-monitoring software imminent in powering large warehouses across the country and globe.
As a new e-retailer, navigating the warehousing process can be tricky. You want to limit your upfront costs while ensuring you have enough infrastructure in place to scale as needed. FlowSpace offers on-demand low-cost spaces for retailers of all sizes.
Unlike traditional warehousing that leverages year-long leases, high monthly order minimums, unclear pricing, and perplexing software, FlowSpace comes with a simple inventory management interface and charges retailers only for the space they’re using.
Just as the best website builders did for designing e-commerce stores, Flowspace makes the warehousing process more straightforward and less intimidating for small and developing organizations.
Automation is undoubtedly the future of warehousing, placing increasing importance on the technology that will power the automation. Fetch Robotics’ robot fleets transport materials within warehouses. They also collect environmental warehouse data and automate inventory counts while complementing a retailer’s existing RFID tracking processes. Perhaps most exciting is Fetch’s mobile manipulator and robot base, which is built with the Robot Operating System (ROS) to enhance usability and serve as a research platform for people around the world to collaborate and build upon each other’s findings.
Here’s a quick peak of a Fetch fleet in action.
A lot of components go into logistics and fulfillment, but warehousing presents some of the more significant efficiency challenges a brand can face. These four startups are revolutionizing warehousing through robotics, on-demand storage spaces and autonomous warehouse technology to decrease door-to-door delivery timeframes, trim operational costs and power the global economy in a smarter, more productive manner.