Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with online shopping. In 2020, more than two billion people bought goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales exceeded $4.2 trillion worldwide, according to a study by Statista.
In 2021, global e-commerce sales grew 16.8% year-over-year, accounting for approximately 20% of all global retail sales.
This trend, together with other new post-pandemic consumer habits (increase in the home office, decentralization in urban centers, changes in perceptions of time) have given rise to the need to reconfigure the way in which companies deliver goods and services to their customers. The Darkstores arise as a response to this new logistics challenge aimed at improving service and making last-mile deliveries more efficient.
¿What is a Darkstore?
A Darkstore could be defined as a hybrid between a store and a storage center. It is a space that is not open to consumers where a variety of products that can be purchased online are stored.
When a customer’s order arrives, the machines and operators are responsible for preparing and delivering the package to the courier services that will take it to its final destination. Being located in the center of large cities, the Darkstores allow orders to be delivered to buyers in a matter of hours or minutes, something almost impossible to fathom less than two years ago.
This logistics structure has important benefits. The one that stands out is the logistics costs, which are significantly reduced while proposing a phenomenal improvement in customer experience. Many times, the Darkstores are shared, which means that it does not require large investments to join this modality.
In addition, this system allows to increase the capacity to prepare packages, deliver and pick up products in areas with a high density of orders or with traffic restrictions; facilitates the expansion of the catalog and stock, and provides greater efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Challenges of this new model
Delivery is now the cornerstone of the customer experience. Keeping the promise of instant shipments does not end with the migration of supply centers to Darkstores, but comprises other changes in the planning of the processes involved in the supply chain.
For example, inventory management is essential to offer excellent service at low cost. By positioning inventory efficiently, retailers can maximize their ability to meet demand in the most profitable way.
In this sense, forecasting demand becomes a vital issue for retailers who want to keep up with customer requests. In turn, having an accurate and consolidated data structure from multiple sales channels is key to achieve greater accuracy on these forecasts.
Omnichannel presents a great challenge. Delivering a seamless, integrated experience when customers interact with brands across multiple channels on and off requires strong data foundations.
Controlling all dispatches, deliveries, claims, returns, in different and new formats with traditional or manual methodologies, is not only exhausting and inefficient, but could take days or weeks depending on the volume of data, an unforgivable sin in the immediacy market.
In order to streamline and automate this process, companies today have solutions such as Conciliac EDM, which allows the automation of data consolidation, considering different formats from various sources, in order to later reconcile the data with internal systems and control the operation in an automated and scalable way.
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