Supply chain analytics will help retail distributors handle the rigorous demands that are sure to come with same-day delivery.
An article on the Supply Chain Digest website discusses how same-day delivery could become the norm, possibly straining distributors and their employees. Complications include being unable to spread out work over an eight-hour shift or to make efficient picking batches.
It is true that same-day delivery will place new stresses on retailers. However, several of the points made in the article allude to the pressure that the erratic demand trend will put on the workforce.
“Perhaps the most difficult to manage unintended factor is the impact on the workforce — most employees are prepared to work unexpected overtime every once in a while,” the article notes. “But, when the end of every day is a variable, it disrupts their lives, keeps them from being able to pick up their kids from school or childcare on time and their families from being able to plan on them.”
While this would be an issue initially, predictive analytics will eventually allow the forecasting of same-day delivery orders much like existing demand forecasting. In reality, the only change in the order fulfillment cycle is the expected delivery time.
Many retailers already offer next-day or second-day delivery as a standard. As a result, they process and fulfill orders as they come in. The only difference between what they’re doing now and next-day delivery is the shipping method.
Workforce scheduling issues will eventually be minimized as more distribution centers move to automated picking systems, eliminating the need for employees to walk the aisles to pick orders.
As the article states, there is no turning back. The only option that distributors and retailers have is to implement highly automated software applications and warehouse technologies. Among the solutions needed are real-time interfaces between customer-facing order-processing systems, whether they be an e-commerce website, a POS terminal or a mobile device.
All of the manual handoffs must be replaced with automated, scheduled processes that can run without human intervention.
Supply chain analytics and automation will be the key to managing same-day delivery, and retailers should recognize the opportunities present among the challenges of meeting this new demand.
Source: Supply Chain Digest, October 2013