How e-commerce has changed CRM
Customer Relationship Management and e-Commerce
Despite the rapidly growing and changing environment of Business in general, the main priority of many businesses is serving their customers accordingly. Without a loyal and respectable customer base, many businesses would seize to exist.
In traditional Business, it was often common to reward returning customers by providing appropriate discounts or friendly in-store service. This is more difficult to do in a complete digital environment. To service your customers correctly you have to look elsewhere.
The primary means of CRM (Customer Relationship Managed) is to make sure your customer receives that what they seek in an enjoyable manner. Traditional Businesses keep records of frequently visiting customers to make sure their next visit will be a success. A customer that is a frequent ‘dress buyer’ would do well to be informed on the relevant dress discounts upon their next visit. In e-Commerce, creating an enjoyable customer experience is rather different whilst still being a challenged as all is digital.
In e-Commerce, customer data is usually stored within big databases that accurately store all data of previous purchases. This allows an e-Commerce business to cater an online shopping experience exactly to a customers’ needs. According to Castillo (2021), most e-CRM software also has the ability to analyze your site’s metrics, for example:
- Conversion rates;
- Customer click-through rate;
- E-mail subscription opt-ins;
- Which products customers are interested in.
These features provide an e-Commerce business the ability to personalize a customers’ shopping experience to great heights. In an era of individualism, it is highly important to make your customers feel wanted and important. Giving your customers a shopping experience that is unique to them creates a feeling of wholesomeness and increases return rates significantly. The innovative and advanced CRM software that is currently out in the market has shown to be of immense benefit to many E-Commerce businesses as a result. An important question follows, “how is an e-Commerce business able to retain a high customer satisfaction ratio?”
High customer satisfaction rates are a result of correctly executed Customer Relationship Management strategies. Any business that aims to correctly manage their customers should aim for a personalized strategy that caters to their business and product/services in question. However, this does not mean that there are no general ways to improve your customer satisfaction rates. Any high-level marketing/sales academy teaches many of the coming principles as important for e-Commerce businesses to create/maintain high level customer satisfaction rates.
General tips to improve Customer Experience for e-Commerce
- Keep it simple
Many new e-Commerce businesses create the mistake of making their online shopping experience too complex. According to Santora (2020), 55% of shoppers abandon their virtual shopping cart due to reasons such as unexpected shipping fees, unclear taxes, and a time-consuming purchasing process. This statistic clearly shows that customers want their product with a simplistic shopping experience. A lack of transparency and an abundance of steps needed to complete a shopping process takes away from a customers’ shopping experience and forces them to leave their carts without purchasing.
- Value Feedback
The digital opportunities that come with e-Commerce offer a myriad of possibilities when it comes to gather customer data. It is important to document both your customers’ positive and negative feedback as these can be used to improve your e-Commerce website/shopping experience. Actually using your customers as a fuel to improve your business is a core component of many big e-Commerce businesses that are able to maintain loyal customer bases. Look at both the positive and negative feedback, take in what comes back frequently and adjust your business accordingly. Do this frequently and success is likely to increase.
- Multiplatform Support
Another way to improve your relationship with both your existing and new customer base is to make sure your e-Commerce Business is optimized for all platforms. This can be interpreted in many ways. Your Business must be optimized for all mobile platforms for instance (Apple/Android). Website quality deviation between platforms can be detrimental and exclude large parts of your customer base. This should be avoided as much as possible so the quality of between platforms should be checked frequently.
You can also apply the Multiplatform Support philosophy to provided payments for example. Try to expand the payment options you provide to your customers by giving them the choice to pay with Ideal, PayPal, PayByPhone, After pay, Klarna, Credit card, Bank Transfer and so on. The more options you provide your customers, the more likely they are able to continue with their purchase. However, don’t include too much payment options as this again might make the purchasing experience too complex-looking. Access the main paying methods made/preferred by your customers adjust accordingly.
Many e-Commerce businesses also decide to outsource their optimization to external professionals such as ModusLink. Would you like to know more about the latest developments regarding e-Business CRM optimization? Talk to a ModusLink Expert today by clicking here.
Atchison, J. (2020, 18 november). How to Boost Customer Satisfaction on Your Ecommerce Website. Business 2 Community. Geraadpleegd op 16 januari 2022, van https://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/how-to-boost-customer-satisfaction-on-your-ecommerce-website-02363607
Castillo, D. (2021, 8 december). What is the role of customer relationship management (CRM) in e-Commerce? Sana Commerce. Geraadpleegd op 16 januari 2022, van https://www.sana-commerce.com/blog/what-is-the-role-of-customer-relationship-management-in-e-Commerce/
Ecommerce News Nederland. (2020, 7 december). CRM voor de ecommerce. Ecommerce News. Geraadpleegd op 15 januari 2022, van https://www.ecommercenews.nl/crm/
Santora, J. (2020, 7 november). 5 Cart Abandonment Stats to Help You Win “Lost” Sales Now. OptinMonster. Geraadpleegd op 15 januari 2022, van https://optinmonster.com/cart-abandonment-statistics/
What your e-commerce website needs
E-Business Website Essentials
A formal and high-quality suit, polished and fitting shoes, and a pleasant smelling cologne or perfume. These three physical elements represent a professional and business-class image. Any experienced business professional is aware of the importance of conveying yourself appropriately. The reasoning for this is that we all know, image matters in the Business world. Your physical appearance is the first thing people notice when meeting you. Anybody knows, first meetings are crucial to the future development of a relationship. This goes both for private and business scenarios. For a business, the first point of notice is usually its website.
Businesses that hold/maintain a strong, well developed, and polished website tend to convert more on average. The bounce rate (the rate at which people close a website after opening) increases significantly when a website has not been tended to properly. For businesses that get their main conversions/sales of their website, this is a highly important fact to keep in mind. When looking at successful E-commerce businesses, their websites are usually attractive to clients for the following reasons.
Successful E-commerce websites allow their website to adapt to their customers’ wishes and needs (partly)automatically. This enables customers to find more quickly what they were looking for and make the purchase, thus resulting in higher conversion rates. The ability to cater to a customers’ needs quickly is an important factor for an E-commerce website that is aiming to succeed.
- Automation & Data collection
An automated website that collects data from anyone who is active opens doors of opportunity when it comes to client retention and catering accuracy. Correct data acquisition through a company’s website will allow a business to acquire and maintain more accurate knowledge of their current customer base. In turn, the business can advertise and cater more precisely to the current and future customer.
- Ease of Use
Nobody wants to spend hours on a website trying to find the right product. Complexity is not always your friend. When it comes to successful websites, Ease of Use is a very important term to keep in mind. When websites become too complex, plenty of people give up when not being able to find the right product. Your E-commerce business should be defined and created in such a way to make the customer experience as simple as possible. No excessive steps within the buying/searching process should be present.
The need to improve
We are living in a fast-changing world. It is very important to keep up to date with your customers. Improving and reinforcing your main point of contact (your website) is thus a highly important step aiming to attract and retain customers. The above three point mentioned items will help to improve your E-commerce website. Many businesses, for scaling purposes, outsource their Supply Chain and Operational Activities to Professional E-commerce Companies such as ModusLink. These companies use many tools to create and improve websites. Some examples of impactful tools are:
Correct use of Chatbots can elevate your E-commerce website to new heights. Chatbots are known to yield increased customer satisfaction rates. This can be seen through their increase in popularity and uses. Chatbots are now part of many call-centers, E-commerce businesses and established companies. Chatbots are often implemented as a first point of contact/help before reaching customer service to better determine the customers’ needs and questions. However, many of today’s popular chatbot even provide other services that allow them to be more flexible (Neusser, 2021).
Chatbots improve any E-commerce website as they can be operational all day, every day of the week. Having the ability to aid customers with their basic needs without having the need for human employment is what makes high quality Chatbots effective. Do note, in order to have your Chatbot work correctly, their commands must be highly refined and developed. The extend of your effort is directly linked to your ability to help your customers with your Chatbot.
Shipping and Delivery
Aside from aiding customers with basic questions, Chatbots can provide accurate information of Shipping/Delivery through order status lookup. There are quite a lot of customer service questions that can be answered rapidly. Questions about Shipping and Delivery or order status tracking can also be implemented within a Chatbot. This allows for even greater flexibility of your customer service team, giving them more time to focus on complex customer questions/demands.
Chatbots are also able to set up physical or online appointments with customers should the need be there. Customers can enter a Chatbot and provide it with their contact information which will allow the customer service team to contact the customer later to set-up an appointment. Chatbots that are linked to specific agendas are also able to automatically set-up appointments this way. However, this method does require strong anti-bot detection measures in place or some sort of security protocol as spam appointments can be made. A quick confirmation through e-mail could do the trick as well
Would you like to know more about the latest developments regarding E-Business tools? Talk to a ModusLink Expert today by clicking here.
E-Business – Technology and Networks. (z.d.). sideplayer. Geraadpleegd op 13 januari 2022, van https://slideplayer.com/slide/8765285/
Neusser, S. (2021, 9 december). Technologies every e-commerce site needs. Sana Commerce. Geraadpleegd op 10 januari 2022, van https://www.sana-commerce.com/blog/technologies-used-in-ecommerce/
Rahman, S. (z.d.). GRIN – Introduction to E-Commerce Technology in Business. Grin. Geraadpleegd op 11 januari 2022, van https://www.grin.com/document/280494
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Comparing traditional and e-business
E-Business vs Traditional Brick & Mortar
In the current world of fast-growing innovative technology, various business elements change rapidly. It is sometimes difficult to keep up with all the new, yet highly impactful technology released over time. Despite the changes within individual technology, there are also changes happening on a bigger scale. The very nature of many businesses has changed with the increasing popularity of E-commerce. E-commerce has allowed businesses to massively improve their lead times. In addition, performance for E-commerce businesses has been achieved at a much better rate than traditional businesses. Due to these results, it is no surprise that many businesses are switching their nature/structure from Traditional business practices to E-commerce practices. Some businesses decide to keep traditional elements within their core structure. However, most companies incorporate E-business practices to at least some degree to gain partial benefits.
According to Kaur (2021), E-business practices relate to businesses that include activities through the Internet. Business activities can consist of (but are not limited to) industry, commerce and business. E-business also includes planning, organising, production, marketing etc. through the internet. Most of the people and business parties doing their activities electronically. These are the emerging modes of business.
Furthermore, In E-Business, cost and time savings can be acquired through a reduction of spending on traveling and selecting the goods. The payments can be made in any form of digital modes such as Credit Card, Debit Card, Digital Wallets or Net Banking.
In E-Commerce, good can be purchased 24/7. This gives customers around the globe a massive advantage as there are no restrictions regarding opening/business hours and time differences. This change alone massively increases a business’ potential customer pool which in turn results in many traditional businesses incorporating this aspect of E-business.
E-Commerce provides greater benefits in buying goods and services easily (Thakur, 2021).
Traditional business mostly refers to a physical instance (e.g. shops/stores) that provide a certain good/service to its local customers in exchange for the corresponding currency. A Traditional Business’ main method of payment is Cash.
Operating costs are usually rather high as it takes a high amount of investment to keep a physical place running correctly. E-Businesses do not need to hold a physical unit which in turn gives them freedom (Kaur, 2021).
Furthermore, Traditional Commerce started at the time of the barter system which was introduced a long time ago. This system basically covers the essential supply and demand principle. The exchange of goods for other goods without the introduction of money (as this was not introduced yet in the early times). Nowadays, Traditional Business has advanced to a more modern model with the element of cash and physical instances being more flashed out. The Introduction of E-Commerce in the early 20th century really decreased the popularity of Traditional Businesses and brick-and-mortar stores (Thakur, 2021).
As mentioned before, the introduction of E-Businesses has forced many companies to change their core business model due to the immense benefits yielded when doing so. Please see the list below that further elaborates on these benefits. The main 3 benefits are mentioned below (Faris, 2019).
Decreased startup costs
Starting a new business often comes with high initial investment costs. This is especially true when starting a brick-and-mortar retail store. Think about money needed for furniture/displays/thematic elements/personnel/customer care/office space etc. If your business is starting to gain traction, you also need to think about upgrading and including a conference room.
An E-business does not have to worry about any of these mentioned costs if it so desires. People can start E-businesses from anywhere they would like to, so to speak. The necessary requirement of a website is an investment, but a much lower investment compared to a Traditional Business. Shipping and warehousing are also part of your main initial investment as the network needs to be robust when starting to avoid initial complications such as delays.
If you have a Traditional Business, there is a lot more staff required when wanting to manage your business effectively. You need people for HR/administrative reasons, logistical reasoning, customer services etc. E-businesses need one/a few people to start out merely for managing orders as much can be done online. Startups often outsource their whole supply chain/operating channel to other companies that manage Ecommerce Fulfillment from start to finish. This gives E-Businesses immense leeway regarding resource management.
Shipping and Logistics
Shipping and Logistical operations are and remain a challenge for both Traditional Businesses and E-Businesses. The key difference is that E-Businesses gain the advantage of clarity by being able to manage and overview all the step-by-step operations online. This can often reduce lead times by a significant amount.
Return Logistics are also much easier to manage as products can be always tracked through a top-down view. SME’s (Small/Medium Enterprises) that conduct E-business also outsource their Shipping and Logistics to professional third-party industry experts. These experts often handle the whole Fulfillment process very efficiently.
Would you like to know more about the latest developments regarding E-Business tools? Talk to a ModusLink Expert today by clicking here!.
F. (2021, February 4). Updates, Insights, and News from FutureLearn | Online Learning for You. FutureLearn. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/digital-transformation-e-commerce/0/steps/186161
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IOT SupplyChain Tools (Internet of Things)
The utilization of IoT tools (Internet of Things)
Many of the electric devices/sensors that are applied to smart packaging use the global interconnected network called the Internet of Things. The concept of IoT (internet of things) is aimed at providing a global interconnected network infrastructure for connecting objects to the cyber- physical world. It enables companies to track and trace their products which are equipped with sensors devices (Cheung, 2018).
The main IoT tools are elaborated upon below.
RFID (radio-frequency identification): is an electronic sensor and data collecting system using RF signals located on packages to monitor critical parameters such as temperatures, pressure, and vibration which captures and communicates data about how the products are moving along the supply chain and enable organizations to track and trace the product during its journey from manufacturer to customers (Cheung, 2018). The use of smartphones to increase the supply chain visibility and anytime access by using available handled devices is quickly standardizing for companies’ solutions. The technology is optimal to track products that are in transit (Fedex, 2020).
Traditionally, inventory counts were a complex exercise done manually about once a year but RFDI technology enables retailers such as Macy’s to monitor stock monthly bringing accuracy from 60% to over 90%. Macy’s reported that it experienced 2-3% inventory inaccuracy per month which is 24% annually but by implementing RFID solutions it minimized out-of-stock situations, provides real-time merchandise location data and allows to track their inventory throughout the retail supply chain (Bianchi, 2017).
NFC (near field communication): is non-contact near-field communication technology. NFC reader is a tool that can be integrated into the warehouse management picking verification system. The benefits of using such technology are its combinations with the smartphone as a carrier for the logistics industry and optimize the management process with a low error rate to increase operability without sacrificing labor and resources efficiency; thereby enhances the company competitiveness by increasing efficiency inside warehouse management as well as cost savings for the further development of the logistics industry. Furthermore, it helps eliminate the paperwork and provides information about the inside of the package such as the location of the product inside the warehouse, description of the item, and the number of items inside the warehouse.
All of these pieces of information are readable through the smartphone. The system enables smartphones to read the NFC tag on packages and allows the operator to read the information needed (Hou, 2016). The Diageo company integrated NFC chips for a type of alcohol drink “Johnnie Walker blue”. Customers who have an NFC chip, enable phones to read information from the NFC on the label with additional information about the product and find out if the bottle was in some way misused. It also allows the company to track the product during the whole supply chain, storages, and the opening times (Vasić, 2018).
Barcode label: Plenty of operations happening inside the warehouse rely on administrative documentation. The use of these barcodes, rack labels save a lot of time to the different employees in term of packing and picking process as they only need to scan the barcode and receive all the information needed on the requisite hardware to read them. The barcodes label also benefits in managing inventory by being able to track the exact location and movements of products in and out of the warehouse facility as well as eliminating delays and error.
Barcode labels are usually called the foundation of automated warehouses as it was the first data tracking technology and refers to one-dimensional data which means that they can only hold information in the horizontal dimension. They provide several crucial benefits such as inventory tracking, arrival planning, improved picking efficiency, traffic optimization, decrease human data entry errors, and reduce out of stock situations (Jules, 2020).
Weerts supply chain is using barcodes label on its stored products to monitor the localization of its goods. Weerts supply chain is storing a lot of perishable goods such as chocolate, therefore besides having a temperature control inside the warehouse, the barcode label indicates the perishable dates of the products. Thus, they can distribute to supermarkets the goods with the closest perishable date just by scanning the rack where the product is placed (Richelle, 2021).
Figure 1Vasić, Đ. &. (2018). NFC Technology and Augmented Reality in Smart Packaging.
The table above compares the different technological devices and differentiates them in terms of speed, scalability, devices needed, sensing distance, and error rate. It is obvious that compared to the verification systems, the manual work is slower and error rates are high (Vasić, 2018).
All the different devices result in advantages for Supply Chains through the use of IoT tools and help companies in their daily operations. Although the initial cost concerning new sensors technologies are high, the inherent opportunities incentivize companies to invest in the integration of IoT.
Would you like to know more on how ModusLink can implement IoT tools when managing Supply Chain, Logistics and E-Business? Talk to a ModusLink Expert today by clicking here!
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Drones in Supply Chain
The evidence of the increasing popularity of Supply Chain automation is pushing companies to research even more performant alternatives that will keep boosting the efficiency of robots inside Supply Chains. The many benefits that come with robots are the reason why new and higher productive technologies are surging.
Businesses around the world have started to integrate drones into their Supply Chain over the past years to help manage their inventory. The drones are built and designed to assist human workers indoors and benefit large organizations that have stationary inventory. Companies that deal with a large amount of inventory often find it challenging to find items inside the warehouse. Therefore, the areal inventory drones can benefit many big organizations to find the right items inside the warehouse and cut their inventory carrying costs. The drones carry sensors, scanners, and cameras to monitor and track inventory. The aim of integrating this drone is mainly a concern of accuracy as the drones should be more efficient and precise than humans. So far, the result of implementing drones into Supply Chains has been great and drones are becoming quite popular due to their capability of flying around, avoid obstacles, navigate indoors, and operate in fleets (Dronevideos.com, 2018).
Several benefits can be identified while using indoor drones. First, the human workforce will potentially hold less hazardous tasks which means no ladder climbing or dangerous inspections anymore. There is a fast return on investment due to the manageable acquisition cost of hardware.
Secondly the reliable/stable software can enable fully autonomous indoor navigation and automatically scan barcodes. Despite these promising positives effects that drones bring to a warehouse, many negatives side effect still needs to be overcome.
The limited flying area and the many obstacles inside the warehouse make the process complex. Furthermore, integrating the drones into the existing process makes it time-consuming and sometimes unsafe due to potential drones’ failure such as battery explosions. The maintenance and reparation costs are also something to take into consideration resulting in some delays or downturns. Finally, analysts identify the automated drone’s system suffering from the “garbage in”, “garbage out” issues. When inventory gets lost, drones cannot prevent it, identify it, or resolve it. Despite all the benefits that inside drones can bring, few adjustments still need to be studied, analyzed, and fixed to fully enjoy and operate the drones inside automated Supply Chains.
Furthermore, the future might be worrying for workers as they feel targeted and soon stand the risk to be replaced by more efficient and accurate drones (Maghazei, 2019). On the contrary, drones could also be an opportunity for workers to be trained and taught are to manage/supervise these drones and receive more specific assignments that need critical thinking decisions. This will merely shift the work dynamic and prevent job loss.
A bright future
Nowadays automated Supply Chains are revolutionizing and reshaping the fulfilment process. The number of drones integrated inside warehouses to Supply Chain daily operations is booming. In general, technologies such as barcode labels, automated guided vehicles, automated storage and retrieval, automated mobile robots, are the close future for most of the Supply Chains around the world. Despite the many benefits such as time-savings, increased accuracy, error reduction, cost-saving, better productivity, efficiency, and more space is created, the human workforce is worried for their future as robots start to replace them.
Many disadvantages still need to be overcome, even if the availability of affordable drones is increasing, the initial investment remains high at least for most companies. Not to mention the regular maintenance check cost, repairs, and the training of the workers who do not especially know how to use specific drones. Even though drones can operate autonomous, it is still important for workers to understand their protocols to not form Supply Chain bottlenecks along the way.
It is seen that the implementation of automated drones by big companies such as Amazon, DHL, or UPS is becoming increasingly popular. Smaller companies do not have the capital to invest yet in drone technology, but it is a matter of time before drones will be integrated in most of the Supply Chains worldwide, at least to dome degree. SME’s (Small/Medium Enterprises) also outsource frequently to still enjoy the benefits that drones bring to their respective Supply Chain.
Fulfilment is being impacted as many time-consuming tasks are replaced by high-tech drones which can reduce the time needed to transport, manage, or place items inside the warehouse. Also, automated drones can work 24 hours, seven days out of seven. This enables consumers to receive their goods in a short period though shortening of lead times which increases customer satisfaction.
From the beginning of the robotization era in 1960 to the automated Supply Chains in 2020, a huge boom in technology has happened and drones are showing strong potential in performance which impacts the fulfilment process as they become more innovative over time.
The future for drones is bright. The indoor drones which are being analyzed and studied for full implementation will be another important step for automated Supply Chains as they will be able to bring many positives effects such as a fast return on investment, however, adjustments still need to be made to be for them to be fully operational.
Despite the necessary adjustments, the rapid growth and advancements in innovative drone technology illustrate a bright future. Would you like to know more about automated Drones, and how to integrate this within your Supply Chain? Contact one of ModusLink’s Industry experts by clicking here!
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