Are Robots the Future of Online Shipping?
Technology is changing the modern world, and this is becoming more evident in the world of logistics and shipping.
Traditionally logistics and shipping have been manpowered industries where common mishaps, inefficiencies and failures can be caused by human error. Now, advances in technology and robotics are drastically changing the shipping industry, and some would say for the better.
Industry leaders are seeing multiple marginal gains throughout their businesses and this is encouraging others to follow the trend. This is echoed in a recent report, stating that ‘the logistics and warehouse robots’ markets will approach US$30.8 billion (£24.1) by the year 2022.
These stats show fantastic opportunities for both established and emerging players.
The world saw a sneak peek into how robotics is pushing the boundaries for logistics during Alibaba’s 2018 single day sale, a shopping event held annually for 24 hours. Alibaba’s 2018 event recorded US$30 billion in gross merchandise revenues.
But in order to meet the demand and delivery needs of such an event, Alibaba opened its doors to its state-of-the-art new warehouse which showcases the true power of robots.
In total, there were 700 robots working 24/7 in order to complete orders from the sale. At first glance, the facility looks like a huge radio-controlled car circuit, but is actually designated paths for robots to transport parcels.
Once an order is submitted, the Alibaba robots automatically pick up a parcel and deliver them to another part of the warehouse, which then gets picked up by a delivery firm. The process has brought significant time savings to their logistics operations.
Alibaba’s aim is to deliver to anyone in China within 24 hours and internationally in 72 hours.
VP Ben Wang told CNBC that automation is definitely the key to the future of logistics. More automated processes are planned for Alibaba in the future for its operations as they look to climb the digital curve.*
Back in the UK, online fashion retailer Boohoo.com is following this trend by raising £50m to fund a new 600,000 sq ft automated “super-site” in Burnley Lancashire, to support their future growth plans. Boohoo see automation and technology as the future and hope their new warehouse will help them stay ahead of the competitive online retail market.
The online fashion retailer hopes the new site will provide the business with more than £2 billion of net sales capacity, in addition to an estimated £1 billion worth of net sales already being generated by the extended Burnley warehouse.
According to Boohoo, the automated warehouse will cost £150 million
in total over three years.*
Some might say this is a good thing, traditionalists might disagree. Automated checkouts in supermarkets have already become a part of everyday living. Consumers are embracing technology as part of their lives and retailers are following to meet demands. We looking into a future where the demands of consumers and the need for, convenience, fast same day and next day delivery is overtaking what is physically possible for humans to achieve, therefore robots are filling the gap.
At World Options we are the top of our technology game, constantly working on improving our online systems for customers. Though our system is automated and designed to help businesses ship faster than ever before, we are not quite using robots….yet!