We asked our panel of experts to share how retailers can turn the challenges experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic into opportunities for the future.

“I don’t know that there is a single biggest retail challenge — these vary by sector and individual retailer — but certainly an important one for most is getting logistics and last-mile delivery right. And “right” means doing it better than the competition in terms of service and cost.

As a result of the pandemic and the significant changes in consumer behavior that accelerated the growth in ecommerce, many — if not most — retailers were simply overwhelmed in terms of order fulfillment cost and capacity last year. I’ve spoken with a number of retailers who said their goal was just to survive the 2020 peak, at whatever cost, and then plan for improvement in terms of process, productivity, and capacity in 2021.

In the face of the surging ecommerce demand, many retailers also realized that distribution automation at various levels is essential for getting cost and throughput to where they need to be. This includes major interest by retailers in what we might call partial automation systems — technologies such as “put walls” and mobile robots. These and other technologies can offer many operational improvements but at a lower investment cost and with greater flexibility than traditional distribution center automation.”

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Source: USA Today, Future Business and Tech

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