How an Online Supermarket Automated Their Entire Warehouse

How an Online Supermarket Automated Their Entire Warehouse

Cambridge Consultants, a world-class supplier of innovative product development engineering and technology consulting, has partnered with Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer, to develop a next-generation warehouse. Ocado, based in Hatfield England, ships more than two million items every day to customers all over the UK. This involves the coordination of hundreds of thousands of crates containing millions of grocery items that need to be moved both in real time, and in parallel. Cambridge Consultants stepped in to automate this process by developing the world’s first wireless control system, which turned their warehouse automation solution into 1,000 machines picking groceries in a space no larger than an Olympic swimming pool, all the while communicating in real-time. To achieve the performance they were looking for, while managing risk and time constraints, Cambridge Consultants had to create a completely custom solution. What they ended up with is the “most densely packed mobile network in the world.” Unfortunately, existing mobile technology was not up to par in terms of the real-time control and scalability of such a build, so the team used a system based on 4G telecoms, in an unlicensed Wi-Fi band, to get the job done. Tim Ensor, head of connected devices at Cambridge Consultants explains in this article, “We created a system based on the principles of 4G but which can support 1,000 devices from a single base station – over 10 times more than is usually possible.” This shiny new warehouse deals with an incredible number of products daily, each stacked in tight blocks, ready to be picked using a conveyor system that allows 1,000 robots mounted above to...
Retail Transparency in Outbound Omni-Channel Orchestration

Retail Transparency in Outbound Omni-Channel Orchestration

The need for transparency in retail supply chains is becoming more critical than ever. The continued growth of the retail eCommerce sector requires brick and mortar retailers to compete with the pure eCommerce sites through their own eCommerce sites and stores. It is the ability to know sooner, so that action can be taken as quickly as possible to correct, mitigate or even capitalize upon the situation that exists. Transparency begins before an order is ever taken and begins with the evaluation and determination of the anticipated customer demand, and where it’s expected to be seen. For retailers this demand statement must consider all channel options and go beyond the traditional store-level fulfillment to encompass all options for ordering anywhere and fulfilling from anywhere that the business endorses. For this reason, transparency in the retail supply chain must also extend beyond the four walls of the organization in order to provide greater visibility into customer plans, supplier and trading partner activities. Collaboration is the key!1 All organizations work with third party providers in the area of logistics, even when companies have their own fleets. Due to omni-channel demands, parcel shipments have increased for brick and mortar retailers as they have been challenged to support multiple order/shipment combinations rather than just from their own DC (distribution center) to their stores. Any shift from bulk to parcel is an increase in rates of 3x-5x as an order of magnitude. As a result, managing the outbound orchestration for omni-channel fulfillment now plays an even more critical role in the process of managing costs. Outbound Omni-Channel Orchestration involves managing the outbound movement of...
Retailers: Do You Have a Unified View of Your Omni-Channel Data?

Retailers: Do You Have a Unified View of Your Omni-Channel Data?

Research conducted by Aberdeen’s Omer Minkara uncovered something interesting: While retailers, on average, use four channels to interact with customers, a full 60% of retailers lack a unified way of viewing the data generated through those interactions. The thing is, when customers are interacting with your organization across channels, they don’t think they are dealing with multiple entities, they think they are dealing with one. If they end up speaking with one of your employees, and that employee is missing information about them because your data lives in separate silos, that’s a problem. And that’s what makes data-integration in combination with an omni-channel strategy so critical. Indeed, companies who get this right are more successful. To get a sense of what such success can look like, consider the following chart. Best-in-Class retailers, who follow a “omni-channel + big data” approach enjoy… …when compared to competitors. So, what are the Best-in-Class retailers doing with the omni-channel data they collect? As you can see in Figure 1, they are doing several things: Above all else, Best-in-Class retailers use the data they collect to get smarter about relevant recommendations, recommendations that guide the customer’s journey and directly drive increased revenue. Of course, it’s all interesting to note that, although Minkara’s research also found that personalization was the second greatest challenge facing retailers today (being in the right channels was the first), only a third of Best-in-Class retailers actually use their data to personalize the digital storefront with dynamic content. In other words, even the Best-in-Class have a ways to go! Channels will continue to proliferate, customer expectations will continue to rise, and big data will continue to just get bigger. In...
Want to be a Mobile Retail Rock Star?

Want to be a Mobile Retail Rock Star?

It goes without saying that retailers can no longer ignore mobile. But if you have yet to develop and implement a meaningful mobile strategy, what are you waiting for? When it comes to retailers who are really rocking mobile, the Best-in-Class are: Companies who focus on the above outperform their competitors. Is that an accident? Given the importance today of attracting and retaining retail customers with a consistent and helpful customer experience, that seems unlikely! Ready to find out more about how these retailers create and execute on their mobile strategy? If so, consider attending an upcoming webinar – Mobile Customer Engagement for Retailers: How to Move Beyond Hype to Success – featuring Aberdeen’s Omer Minkara. The webinar takes place on February 2 at 11 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern and will highlight: Key learnings from the 2015 holiday season and tips for success in 2016 Best-in-Class mobile engagement strategies to increase conversions Steps to blend mobile engagement with your omni-channel program How proactive communications can drive engagement and reduce cart abandonment Sound good? Register here and we’ll see you...
Mobile Retail: Are you Really in Tune with your Consumers?

Mobile Retail: Are you Really in Tune with your Consumers?

Designing a top-notch mobile engagement strategy is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s essential for online retailers to be successful. More than half of all e-commerce interactions today take place via mobile devices, and Aberdeen research shows that mobile savvy businesses achieve 97% greater year-over-year increase in annual revenue growth. These mobile rock stars also retain 80% more of their clientele than others. Despite all the buzz surrounding mobile, many organizations still misunderstand mobile and struggle to make it a part of their business activities. Briefly, mobile is not a customer interaction channel. It refers to devices such as smartphones and tablets that provide retailers with a gateway to interact with shoppers via numerous channels. Findings from our research shows that 73% of retailers have already established a strategy to address the impact of mobile on consumer interactions. However, the same study also reveals that there is a wide gap between the performance results of savvy retailers and peers in performance outcomes. Those include the Best-in-Class mobile retailers enjoying 22.7% annual increase in customer lifetime value, compared to a mere 2.4% increase by others. On Feb 2 at 11 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern we’ll be doing a webinar on mobile customer engagement trends and best practices. In that webinar, we’ll highlight: Key learnings from the 2015 holiday season and tips for success in 2016 Best-in-Class mobile engagement strategies to increase conversions Steps to blend mobile engagement with your omni-channel program How proactive communications can drive engagement and reduce cart abandonment We look forward to seeing you on our webinar to discuss how your organization can benefit from a...
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