How Robotic Order Fulfillment Can Help You Meet Same-Day Shipping Demands

May, 2024 - by CMI

How Robotic Order Fulfillment Can Help You Meet Same-Day Shipping Demands

Every online shopper knows the risk of placing orders virtually: long waiting times and errors in the order fulfillment process can stretch costly delays even further. This is bad news for today's customers, who expect fast and seamless experiences, including same-day shipping.

Maintaining a competitive edge requires businesses to meet consumers' demands perfectly. Whether in retail or the supply chain and logistics sector, technologies like robotic order fulfillment can help companies streamline their workflows without compromising service speed and accuracy. This article explores the inner workings of this technology and discusses how it can transform your operations.  

Why Traditional Fulfillment Methods Don't Cut It

The global e-commerce sector is expected to reach a whopping USD$6.3 trillion this year—a huge jump from last year's USD 5.8 trillion. This means capturing a larger portion of consumer share will become more challenging, especially if you're stuck with traditional methods.  

Several layers are involved in the order fulfillment process:

  • Inventory management 
  • Order processing 
  • Picking and packing 
  • Shipping 
  • Delivery
  • Returns processing 

Companies can either do these in-house, adopt a dropshipping model, or tap third-party logistics or 3PL fulfillment partners. Most small businesses use the last two options, allowing them to access the latest technologies to improve speed and accuracy. These service providers invest in the latest e-commerce fulfillment tools and strategies so sellers and manufacturers don't have to spend millions upgrading their systems.  

Relying on manual methods exposes the order fulfillment system to numerous errors. These may result from inefficiencies due to labor-intensive and error-prone practices across all processes—from receiving and storing inventory to picking and packing products. Embracing robotic order fulfillment flips the script.

How Does Robotic Order Fulfillment Work?

Robotic solutions involve machines to automate most warehouse or distribution center processes. Linking automated tools such as inventory and warehouse management systems to robotic technology can increase the speed, accuracy, and scalability of your order fulfillment processes. 

1. Enhancing Speed and Efficiency in Warehouses and Fulfillment Centers

Companies can choose a few robotic technology solutions that best integrate into their warehouse and order fulfillment tasks: 

Robotic arms that navigate warehouses easily 

Warehouses and fulfillment centers are filled with stocks, and even to the most experienced staff members, they can look like a maze. That said, it can take time for your team to find and pick the right orders. Sticking to manual warehousing could also expose them to accidents.

Conversely, warehouse robots can be linked to your warehouse management software in seconds for proper order identification. These machines use grid-based systems for precise movement, resulting in reduced travel time and, ultimately, operational efficiency.

Different types of robotics for various order fulfillment tasks 

Selective Compliance Assemble Robotic Arm (SCARA)-widely used in the manufacturing sector—can perform high-speed repetitive tasks in order fulfillment. Articulated robots can do the heavy lifting for human workers, so there's no need to use labor force to pick, lift, and move items or inventory or to fulfill orders. 

Before self-driving cars, autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) were already used in different industries. In the retail sector, these machines are utilized for transporting goods. At the same time, supply chain service providers have been using them to enhance workflows. Robots can improve the picking and packing processes in storage and fulfillment areas, retrieving and transporting the ordered products to the order verification sections or directly to packing stations.  

Robotic technologies use vision systems to identify and locate items almost immediately. They also have grasping mechanisms to pick products in different shapes, sizes, and weights. So, they can also be placed in the sorting and packing areas for fast and accurate order consolidation.

2. Minimizing Human Errors to Improve Accuracy

Speed isn't the only benefit of using robotic order fulfillment. This new technology can dramatically reduce error rates, allowing you to meet your same-day shipping demand. As mentioned, working in a warehouse or fulfillment center entails repetitive tasks, which can be time-consuming and tiresome for humans. Automating warehouse operations and picking and packing methods guarantees you're processing the right order as quickly as possible. 

For example, WMS and robotics technology integration eliminates human error in order selection. It also validates the process more quickly, with built-in verification systems linking the order details before shipping. This works well even for multiple and complex transactions by a single buyer.     

3. Robotic Order Fulfillment Provides Scalability

Unlike humans - who can only work eight hours daily - robots can operate continuously, requiring little downtime. They're especially useful in handling increased order volumes. So, instead of scrambling to hire temporary workers during peak seasons, you can rely on robots to do an amazing job. Their flexibility in handling various order sizes and volumes means your order processes work seamlessly and suffer fewer snags due to workforce issues.

How Robotic Order Fulfillment Can Help You Meet Same-Day Shipping Demands Figure 2

Embracing Robotic Technology  

Adopting new technology, including robotic order fulfillment, is your best shot at reaching the peak of customer service excellence. Because of their speed, accuracy, scalability, and other benefits, integrating robots into your fulfillment workflows lets you meet same-day shipping demands without worries. Acquiring one requires substantial investment, but reputable service providers can make this goal a reality. So, choose your partner well, exceed customer demands, and see your business grow.