How automation is changing the face of Retail

RANDEM - Do Better 5 June 2016


Imagine that you are sitting at home, catching up on the news, and you get an SMS from Australia Post, updating you on the delivery of a new iPhone you ordered online.

Australia Post advises that your parcel is ready to be delivered and how and where would you like it delivered? You opt for delivery today, and a few hours later, you are greeted not by a truck or postman, but by a flying drone.

To some, this seems like a fantasy that is still many years in the making. For others, the concept that drones, and other robotic media, will close the gap between existing automated systems and manual processes is fast approaching.

As for the drones? Trials are underway, and within months you might be receipting your next delivery from one. Ahmed Fahour, CEO of Australia Post, states “We’re pretty confident that if we can get through this [trial] we’ll be able to offer this experimental service towards the end of this year.”

Any business needs to consider how the future of automated processes can benefit them, manufacturing industries have been innovating on these concepts for many years, their customers, and how best to serve them. Behavioural trends indicate that speed of delivery is a hygiene factor for customers, and cannot be relied upon as a unique selling point.

eCommerce companies such as The Iconic, and Catch of the Day are interested in trialing their delivery model with Australia Post’s drone service.

By doing so, they are not only being innovative leaders in the market, but also improving the standard for their current customers, encouraging and disrupting competitor’s customers to expect the same level of service.

Are your eCommerce strategies and processes developing to address the future? Or do you still need convincing?

Let’s consider the iPhone that was just delivered to you by drone. The iPhone you bought was not only manufactured by robotics, but the complete ‘pick, pack and dispatch’ process was fully automated!

These robotic fulfilment processes are already in place. Large online providers such as Amazon and Walmart use these robotics extensively today, readying products for dispatch with little human intervention.

What will be the next innovation we will see? We're calling it “Buy and Fly” delivery; offering customers in store or online purchases delivered by drone technology. Is it crazy enough to work, or is this one step too far?

Considering that even same-day dispatch is now a hygiene factor for most customers, developing new strategies to delight and surprise them is the next leap global marketplaces are making to unify both their processes and customer base.

So, how well are you placing yourself to ensure you are prepared to embrace and benefit from change?

Have you articulated how these changes could affect your:

  • Operational processes
  • Impact to revenue
  • Customer loyalty?

Do you have clear roadmap and planned tactics to ensure you don’t get left behind as these disruptors start emerging? Have you even started socialising and talking about these concepts within your organisation?

Consider the following:

  • Collaborate with strategic partners invested in the same forward-thinking approaches
  • Research how robotics will impact your business operations
  • Where possible, trial or seek demonstrations of these emerging technologies

As technology becomes smarter and more sophisticated, so too should the marketplaces that can use them. By positioning yourself to grow with these exciting new concepts, and not be challenged by them, your business can expect to benefit from the opportunities automation stands to offer.