A majority of retailers will soon be able to offer same-day delivery – 78% of logistics companies expect to provide this by 2023 and 40% anticipate delivery within a two-hour window by 2028.
This is according to Zebra Technologies’ ‘Future of Fulfilment Vision Study’, a global body of research analysing how over 2,700 retailers, manufacturers and transportation and logistics (T&L) firms are preparing to meet the growing needs of the on-demand economy.
The study found that most retailers (76%) use store inventory to fulfil online orders. More retailers are investing in retrofitting stores to double as online fulfilment centres and shrinking selling space to accommodate e-commerce pickups and returns.
Most retailers (87%) are struggling to manage returns processes efficiently across numerous purchasing models. Globally, 87% of respondents agreed that accepting and managing product returns is a challenge. The increase in free and fast product delivery corresponds with an increase in product returns, a costly concern that retailers struggle to manage efficiently across many different purchasing models. Seven in 10 surveyed executives agree that more retailers will turn stores into fulfillment centers that accommodate product returns. More than 60% of retailers that currently do not offer free shipping, free returns or same-day delivery plan to do so while 44% expect to outsource returns management to a third party.
Omnichannel retailing is difficult to attain. e-commerce is giving consumers an ever-faster delivery expectation. Only 39% of supply chain respondents reported operating at an omnichannel level. The survey found reducing backorders was the biggest challenge to reaching omnichannel fulfillment for one-third of respondents followed by inventory allocation and freight costs.
Although 72% of organizations utilize barcodes today, 55% of organizations are still using inefficient, manual pen-and-paper based processes to enable omnichannel logistics. By 2021, handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners will be used by 94% of respondents for omnichannel logistics. The upgrade from manual pen-and-paper spreadsheets to handheld computers with barcode scanners or tablets will improve omnichannel logistics by providing more real-time access to warehouse management systems.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and inventory management platforms are expected to grow by 49% in the next few years. RFID-enabled software, hardware and tagging solutions, offer up-to-the-minute, item-level inventory lookup, heightening inventory accuracy and shopper satisfaction while reducing out of stocks, overstocks and replenishment errors.
Future-oriented decision makers revealed that next generation supply chains will reflect connected, business-intelligence and automated solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transportation and labor. Surveyed executives expect the most disruptive technologies to be drones (39%), driverless/autonomous vehicles (38%), wearable and mobile technology (37%) and robotics (37%).