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ECommerce Grocery Fulfillment: Four Ways To Improve Efficiencies

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The demand for online grocery shopping has grown exponentially over the last few years. Retailers have struggled with ecommerce grocery fulfillment (also known as online grocery fulfillment) to not only meet the demands of customers but also optimize the process.

To adapt, grocery retailers should consider ways to improve their ecommerce fulfillment strategies to optimize efficiency. Doing so will not only help grocery retailers to increase their thru put and deliver more orders but will also provide a better experience for the customer.

In this blog, we detail four ways to improve ecommerce grocery fulfillment including: optimizing the picking process, investing in micro fulfillment centers, streamlining delivery routes, and implementing efficient inventory management systems.

1. Optimize Picking Process To Improve Ecommerce Grocery Fulfillment

Picking costs are typically one of the biggest challenges for online grocery fulfillment. Grocers need to develop a leaner process to collect a customer’s order.

One way to make this process more efficient is to utilize automation and innovative technology to fulfill orders.

KPS Global has launched an innovative solution to make the picking process more efficient. An Accessible Cold Environment, ACE™, is an open front walk-in allowing store employees to access fast moving items without having to open and close walk-ins or crowd the store floor.

This three sided walk-in cooler holds temperature at 40 degrees to the floor without using glass or solid doors. Loading the unit is also efficient with the vertical lift system where full pallets are easily moved into the unit significantly decreasing load times making the entire process more efficient.

Ecommerce Grocery Fulfilment specialists picking grocery items from front loaded cooler improving online grocery fulfillment picking times and costs

2. Invest In Micro Fulfillment Centers

Ecommerce grocery fulfillment warehouse with robotics for online grocery pickup

Retailers should also consider investing in high-tech micro fulfillment centers (MFCs) to improve online grocery fulfillment. MFCs are typically 3,000-10,000 square foot warehouses holding more than 15,000 different items that are designated areas attached to a retail store or operated separately to handle order picking.

MFCs are strategically designed with automation such as picking robots with high-tech software integration, cold storage units, and other technologies to create a fast-picking process for ecommerce grocery fulfillment. 

By utilizing MFCs, retailers can drastically improve ecommerce fulfillment by improving picking speed by more than five times that of manual picking.

MFCs are great investments for retailers with high in-store pickup and delivery traffic. By automating the picking process, the pick times are reduced allowing the retailer to serve more customers.

MFCs are an expensive investment which is why many retailers are hesitant to invest in the strategy. However, MFCs are worth the long-term investment and improve order accuracy and increase picking efficiency.

3. Improve Ecommerce Grocery Fulfillment With Streamlined Delivery Routes

Another area where retailers can improve their ecommerce grocery fulfillment efficiency is in delivery. Delivering groceries to customers can be a logistical challenge. To streamline delivery, grocery retailers must find a way to create the most efficient delivery process. Accomplishing delivery efficiency requires a deep understanding of customer behavior combined with efficient technology and software.

One way to streamline delivery routes can be integrating route optimization software. Route optimization software can help retailers plan the most efficient delivery routes by tracking the high-volume areas and the order in which deliveries should be made.

Another way to streamline delivery operations is to consider investing in designated warehouses or “Dark Stores’ to handle online grocery deliveries. These separate facilities are designed to separate in-store shopping from ecommerce grocery fulfillment. 

Dark stores can be beneficial for retailers lacking the space required for MFCs or those looking to expand delivery in certain areas.

4. Implement Ecommerce Grocery Fulfillment With Efficient Inventory Management Systems

Inventory management is critical to the efficiency of online grocery fulfillment strategies. Inventory management has become a common challenge among grocers. As a result, grocers often losing money on orders when inventory is not accurately tracked. 

To improve inventory accuracy retailers should consider implementing inventory management software that can track inventory levels in real-time. 

Higher inventory accuracy can help reduce the loss of orders, improve customer satisfaction and help plan for future demand based on customer buying behaviors.

Another benefit to implementing an inventory management system is the ability to predict demand based on data analytics. Retailers can use data analytics from inventory levels to predict demand for specific products based on factors such as seasonality, promotional activity, and consumer behavior.

This information can be used to optimize inventory levels and ensure that the right products are in stock at the right time.

The Bottom Line

Online grocery shopping is here to stay and retailers need to invest in efficient solutions to remain competitive and profitable. Automation and technology can be the best way for retailers to improve their order fulfillment strategies. Although the upfront costs can be very expensive, grocery retailers should consider the long-term benefits of implementing innovative technologies.

Retailers must consider adopting some level of innovative technology to create a more efficient and profitable ecommerce strategy.

KPS Global® has a variety of products and innovative solutions to help retailers tackle their online grocery fulfillment strategies. From warehouse design to cold storage applications, our innovative product portfolio combined with our team of experts can help create the right ecommerce grocery fulfillment solution. Contact a KPS Global expert today for more information on our ecommerce solutions.

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